A Fight to the Finish

It is but human experience to find that the complete suppression of a race is impossible. Despite inner discouragement and submission to the oppression of others there persisted the mighty spirit, the emotional rebound that kept a vast number struggling for its rights, for selfexpression, and for social uplift. Such men, in many cases, became targets for the white race. They were denounced as trouble makers. They were denied opportunity. They were driven from their homes. They were lynched…

Why should we save? What good does it do to be upstanding, with self-respect? Who gains by thrift, or rises by education? Such mental frustration cannot indefinitely continue. Some day it may burst in fire and blood. Who will be to blame? And where the greater cost? Black folk, after all, have little to lose, but Civilization has all.

This the American black man knows: his fight here is a fight to the finish. Either he dies or wins. If he wins it will be by no subterfuge or evasion of amalgamation. He will enter modern civilization here in America as a black man on terms of perfect and unlimited equality with any white man, or he will enter not at all. Either extermination root and branch, or absolute equality. There can be no compromise. This is the last great battle of the West.

—W.E.B Du Bois, Black Reconstruction in America

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