Nell Irvin Painter – Leadership After Slavery

Both Henry Adams and Benjamin Singleton participated prominently in migrationist activities in the late 1870s and early 1880s. Both were public figures, political leaders in the broadest sense of the term. If one remembers that during the nineteenth century a Black man identified by the wider society as a “leader” of the colored people would actually function more like their employee, then Singleton and Adams provide useful examples of two dominant types of “leadership”. There is no confusing these men of the people with the nationally known and assimilated officeholders such as Hiram Revels or P.B.S. Pinchback. Having been slaves in the South during the antebellum period, neither man could hope to reign like George T. Downing or Frederick Douglass, Singleton lacked enough Western education to allow them to function as “representative colored men”, taking their reputation from their ability to manipulate Western culture, as did John Mercer Langston, or Richard T. Greener.

  • P.130, Exodusters – Nell Irvin Painter, ISBN 0-393-00951-3



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