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


Karenge Ya Marenge (Do or Die) by Countee Cullen

Dark Rapture, Beauford Delaney
Wherein are words sublime or noble? What 
Invests one speech with haloed eminence, 
Makes it the sesame for all doors shut, 
Yet in its like sees but impertinence? 
Is it the hue? Is it the cast of eye, 
The curve of lip or Asiatic breath, 
Which mark a lesser place for Gandhi’s cry 
Than “Give me liberty or give me death!” Is Indian speech so quaint, so weak, so rude, 
So like its land enslaved, denied, and crude, 
That men who claim they fight for liberty 
Can hear this battle-shout impassively, 
Yet to their arms with high resolve have sprung 
At those same words cried in the English tongue?

Howard Thurman

“Jesus had to apply his love-ethic to the enemy—to the Roman, the ruler. This was the hardest task, because to tamper with the enemy was to court disaster. To hate him in any way that caused action was to invite the wrath of Rome. To love him was to be regarded as a traitor to Jesus’ own people, to Israel, and therefore to God. As was suggested in the first chapter, it was upon the anvil of the Jewish community’s relations with Rome that Jesus hammered out the vital content of his concept of love for one’s enemy.” —Howard Thurman