My 90th birthday was a surprising occasion. Friends wanted tocelebrate it, but I recoiled. Who would sponsor such an event? There had, I admitted, been some pleasant occurrences. I hada successful television interview over the Dumont Broadcastingsystem; my bust by Zorach had been accepted by the New York PublicLibrary and installed in the Schomburg Collection at the 135thStreet branch. At the dedication Franklin Frazier, Judge JaneBolin and Van Wyck Brooks took part. Tablet, the officialorgan of the Brooklyn diocese of the Roman Catholic church, naturallyadded one sour note, writing the library: "This corporationwrites to enquire whether you would accept a bust of BenedictArnold, which we would be happy to present to you."
I spoke at Paul Robeson's 60th birthday:
The persecution of Paul Robeson by the government and people ofthe United States during the last nine years has been one of themost contemptible happenings in modern history. Robeson has donenothing to hurt or defame this nation. He is, as all know, oneof the most charming, charitable and loving of men. There isno person on earth who ever heard Robeson slander or even attackthe land of his birth. Yet he had reason to despise America. He was a black man; the son of black folk whom Americans had stolenand enslaved. Even after his people's hard won and justly earnedfreedom, America made their lot as near a hell on earth as waspossible. They discouraged, starved and insulted them. Theysneered at helpless black children. Someone once said that thebest punishment for Hitler would be to paint him black and sendhim to the United States. This was no joke. To struggle up asa black boy in America; to meet jeers and blows; to meet insultwith silence and discrimination with a smile; to sit with fellowstudents who hated you and work and play for the honor of a collegethat disowned you--all this was America for Paul Robeson. Yethe fought the good fight; he was despised and rejected of men;a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief and we hid as it wereour faces from him, he was despised and we esteemed him not.
Why? Why? Not because he attacked this country. Search Britainand France, the Soviet Union and Scandinavia for a word of hisagainst America. What then was his crime? It was that whilehe did not rail at America he did praise the Soviet Union; andhe did that because it treated him like a man and not like a dog;because he and his family for the first time in life were welcomedlike human beings and he was honored as a great man. The childrenof Russia clung to him, the women kissed him; the workers greetedhim; the state named mountains after him. He loved their homage. His eyes were filled with tears and his heart with thanks. Neverbefore had he received such treatment. In America he was a "nigger";in Britain he was tolerated; in France he was cheered; in theSoviet Union he was loved for the great artist that he is. Heloved the Soviet Union in turn. He believed that every blackman with blood in his veins would with him love the nation whichfirst outlawed the color line.
I saw him when he voiced this. It was in Paris in 1949 at thegreatest rally for world peace this world ever witnessed. Thousandsof persons from all the world filled the Salle Playel from floorto rafters. Robeson hurried in, magnificent in height and breadth,weary from circling Europe with song. The audience rose to aman and the walls thundered. Robeson said that his people wantedPeace and "would never fight the Soviet Union." I joinedwith the thousands in wild acclaim.
This, for America, was his crime. He might hate anybody. Hemight join in murder around the world. But for him to declarethat he loved the Soviet Union and would not join in war againstit--that was the highest crime that the United States recognized. For that, they slandered Robeson; they tried to kill him at Peekskill;they prevented him from hiring halls in which to sing; they preventedhim from travel and refused him a passport. His college, Rutgers,lied about him and dishonored him. And above all, his own people,American Negroes, joined in hounding one of their greatest artists--notall, but even men like Langston Hughes, who wrote of Negro musiciansand deliberately omitted Robeson's name--Robeson who more thanany living man has spread the pure Negro folk song over the civilizedworld. Yet has Paul Robeson kept his soul and stood his ground. Still he loves and honors the Soviet Union. Still he has hopefor America. Still he asserts his faith in God. But we--whatcan we say or do; nothing but hang our heads in endless shame.
On my 90th birthday, my friends invited my well-wishers to a partyat the Roosevelt Hotel. No body of sponsors could be found, butAngus Cameron acted as chairman, and Eslanda Robeson as treasurer.Two thousand persons were present including my own great-grandson,who behaved with exemplary decorum. I addressed my remarks tohim. I quote from the National Guardian:
The most distinguished guest of this festive occasion is noneother than my great-grandson, Arthur Edward McFarlane II, whowas born this last Christmas Day. He had kindly consented topermit me to read to you a bit of advice which, as he remarkedwith a sigh of resignation, great-grandparents are supposed usuallyto inflict on the helpless young. This then is my word of advice.
As men go, I have had a reasonably happy and successful life,I have had enough to eat and drink, have been suitably clothedand, as you see, have had many friends. But the thing which hasbeen the secret of whatever I have done is the fact that I havebeen able to earn a living by doing the work which I wanted todo and work that the world needed done.
I want to stress this. You will soon learn, my dear young man,that most human beings spend their lives doing work which theyhate and work which the world does not need. It is thereforeof prime importance that you early learn what you want to do;how you are fit to do it and whether or not the world needs thisservice. Here, in the next 20 years, your parents can be of useto you. You will soon begin to wonder just what parents are forbesides interfering with your natural wishes. Let me thereforetell you: parents and their parents are inflicted upon you inorder to show what kind of person you are; what sort of worldyou live in and what the persons who dwell here need for theirhappiness and well-being.
Right here, my esteemed great-grandson, may I ask you to sticka pin. You will find it the fashion in the America where eventuallyyou will live and work to judge that life's work by the amountof money it brings you. This is a grave mistake. The returnfrom your work must be the satisfaction which that work bringsyou and the world's need of that work. With this, life is heaven,or as near heaven as you can get. Without this--with work whichyou despise, which bores you and which the world does not need--thislife is hell. And believe me, many a $25,000-a-year executiveis living in just such a hell today.
Income is not greenbacks, it is satisfaction; it is creation;it is beauty. It is the supreme sense of a world of men goingforward, lurch and stagger though it may, but slowly, inevitablygoing forward, and you, you yourself with your hand on the wheels. Make this choice, then, my son. Never hesitate, never falter.
And now comes the word of warning: the satisfaction with yourwork even at best will never be complete, since nothing on earthcan be perfect. The forward pace of the world which you are pushingwill be painfully slow. But what of that: the difference betweena hundred and a thousand years is less than you now think. Butdoing what must be done, that is eternal even when it walks withpoverty.
And I care not to garner while others
Know only to harvest and reap
For mine is the reaping of sowing
Till the spirit of rest gives me sleep.
A purse of $7,500 was given me. Later in Chicago, Truman Gibsonand Margaret Burroughs arranged another birthday celebration andgave me $1,700 more. After talks in California, I was able totake a trip to the West Indies and see the beginnings of the newBritish West Indian Federation.
I was invited to attend the All-African Conference at Accra. At the Fifth Pan-African Congress at Manchester, England in 1945,a Sixth Congress on the continent of Africa had been projected. When Ghana gained her independence it was planned. I was notallowed to attend the inauguration. If I had been present undoubtedlythe matter would have been further discussed. Meantime GeorgePadmore, secretary of the Pan-African Congress, was called toGhana as chief adviser to the Prime Minister, and he publisheda book called Pan-Africanism or Communism in which hesaid:
"In our struggle for national freedom, human dignity andsocial redemption Pan-Africanism offers an ideological alternativeto Communism on one side and Tribalism on the other. It rejectsboth white racialism and black chauvinism. It stands for racialco-existence on the basis of absolute equality and respect forhuman personality."
I ventured to advise Nkrumah:
I have your kind invitation of January 22, 1957. In behalf ofmyself and of my wife, Shirley Graham, I thank you for it andwant to say how great was our desire to accept it. But sincethe United States government refused to issue us passports, wemust with deep regret inform you of our inability to accept. Ihave recently also, and for the same reason, been compelled tomy sorrow to decline a trip to China for lectures and participationin the celebration of the 250th anniversary of the birth of BenjaminFranklin. However, because of the fact that I am now enteringthe 90th year of my life and because of my acquaintanceship withyou during the last 12 years, which cover the years of your imprisonment,vindication, and political triumph, I trust you will allow mea few words of advice for the future of Ghana and Africa.
Today, when Ghana arises from the dead and faces this modern world,it must no longer be merely a part of the British Commonwealthor a representative of the world of West Europe, Canada, and theUnited States. Ghana must on the contrary be the representativeof Africa.
The consequent Pan-Africa, working together through its independentunits, should seek to develop a new African economy and culturalcenter standing between Europe and Asia, taking from and contributingto both. It should stress peace and join no military allianceand refuse to fight for settling European quarrels. It shouldavoid subjection to and ownership by foreign capitalists who seekto get rich on African labor and raw material, and should tryto build a socialism founded on old African communal life, rejectingthe exaggerated private initiative of the West, and seeking toally itself with the social program of the Progressive nations;with British and Scandinavian Socialism, with the progress towardthe Welfare State in India, Germany, France and the United States;and with the Communist States like the Soviet Union and China,in peaceful cooperation and without presuming to dictate as tohow Socialism must or can be attained at particular times andplaces.
Pan-African Socialism seeks the Welfare State in Africa. It willrefuse to be exploited by people of other continents for theirown benefit and not for the benefit of the peoples of Africa. It will no longer consent to permitting the African majorityof any African country to be governed against its will by a minorityof invaders who claim racial superiority or the right to get richat African expense. It will seek not only to raise but to processthe raw material and to trade it freely with all the world onjust and equal terms and prices.
Pan-Africa will seek to preserve its own past history, and writethe present account, erasing from literature the lies and distortionsabout black folks which have disgraced the last centuries of Europeanand American literature; above all, the new Pan-Africa will seekthe education of all its youth on the broadest possible basiswithout religious dogma and in all hospitable lands as well asin Africa for the end of making Africans not simply profitableworkers for industry nor stool-pigeons for propaganda, but formaking them modern, intelligent, responsible men of vision andcharacter.
I pray you, my dear Mr. Nkrumah, to use all your power to puta Pan-Africa along these lines into working order at the earliestpossible date. Seek to save the great cultural past of the Ashantiand Fanti peoples, not by inner division but by outer culturaland economic expansion toward the outmost bounds of the greatAfrican peoples, so that they may be free to live, grow, and expand;and to teach mankind what Non-violence and Courtesy, Literatureand Art, Music and ; Dancing can do for this greedy, selfish,and war-stricken world.
Meantime big business in America, surprised by the success ofthe Ghana revolution set itself to influence Nkrumah. Nkrumahwas invited to the United States in 1958, and treated as nevera Negro had been treated by the government. Hershey, a greatmanufacturer of chocolate, sent a special plane to take him tohis factories; and the New York Cocoa Board of Trade dined himat the Waldorf-Astoria. I saw Mr. Nkrumah briefly. He was mostcordial and I expected soon to be invited to the Sixth Pan-AfricanCongress in Accra. No invitation came, but I received my passportand sailed for Europe. While I was in Tashkent an invitationarrived but not from Nkrumah nor for a Pan-African Congress. It was from a new "All-African" body for an Africanconference in December and it said nothing about my expenses. I sensed immediately that opposition had arisen in Africa overAmerican Negro leadership of the African peoples. This had happenedin 1920, when the West African Congress acknowledged no tie withthe First Pan-African Congress in Paris which sparked it. AmericanNegroes had too often assumed that their leadership in Africawas natural. With the rise of an educated group of Africans,this was increasingly unlikely. I realized how natural this wasand knew that neither Nkrumah nor Padmore were calling a Sixth"Pan-African Congress" but that this "All-AfricaConference" was taking its place. However, later Padmoresent me a cordial note emphasizing the invitation and offeringto pay expenses.
By this time, however, my long travel was beginning to tell onme and I was in a Soviet sanitarium near Moscow. I prepared toleave for Africa, but the council of physicians advised againstthe trip as too taxing. I had prepared three messages for Africa. One I delivered at Tashkent, one I sent by my wife Shirley, whoattended the conference at Accra, and the last I broadcast laterfrom Peking on my 91st birthday.
At Tashkent, before my invitation to Accra had come, I warnedAfrica about borrowing capital from the West.
"Boycott the export of big capital from the exploiting world,led by America. Refuse to buy machines, skills and comforts withcocoa, coffee, palm oil and fruit sold at ridiculously low pricesin exchange for imported food, liquor, refrigerators and automobilessold at exorbitant prices. Live simply. Refuse to buy big capitalfrom nations that cheat and overcharge. Buy of the Soviet Unionand China as they grow able to sell at low prices. Save thusyour own capital and drive the imperialists into bankruptcy orinto Socialism."
Shirley, my wife, took my speech to Accra. She was shown rarecourtesy and was the only non-African allowed to address the Assembly. She read my words:
My only role in this meeting is one of advice from one who haslived long, who has studied Africa and has seen the modern world. I had hoped to deliver this word in person, but this was notpossible. I have therefore asked my wife, Shirley Graham, toread it to you. It is simple and direct. In this great crisisof the world's history, when standing on the highest peaks ofhuman accomplishment we look forward to Peace and backward toWar; when we look up to Heaven and down to Hell, let us minceno words. We face triumph or tragedy without alternative. Africa,ancient Africa has been called by the world and has lifted upher hands! Which way shall Africa go? First, I would emphasizethe fact that today Africa has no choice between private Capitalismand Socialism. The whole world, including Capitalist countries,is moving toward Socialism, inevitably, inexorably. You can choosebetween blocs of military alliance, you can choose between groupsof political union, you cannot choose between Socialism and PrivateCapitalism, because Private ownership of capital is doomed.
But what is Socialism? It is disciplined economy and politicalorganization in which the first duty of a citizen is to servethe state; and the state is not a selected aristocracy, or a groupof self-seeking oligarchs who have seized wealth and power. No! The mass of workers with hand and brain are the ones whose collectivedestiny is the chief object of all effort. Gradually, every stateis coming to this concept of its aim. The great Communist stateslike the Soviet Union and China have surrendered completely tothis idea. The Scandinavian states have yielded partially; Britainhas yielded in some respects, France in part and even the UnitedStates adopted the New Deal which was largely socialistic, eventhough today further American Socialism is held at bay by 60 greatgroups of corporations who control individual capitalists andthe trade-union leaders.
On the other hand, the African tribe, whence all of you sprung,was communistic in its very beginnings. No tribesman was free. All were servants of the tribe of whom the chief was father andvoice. Read of the West Coast trade as described by [J. E.] Casely-Hayford: There is small trace of private enterprise or individual initiative. It was the tribe which carried on trade through individuals,and the chief was mouthpiece of the common will.
Here then, my Brothers, you face your great decision: Will youfor temporary advantage--for automobiles, refrigerators and Parisgowns-- spend your income in paying interest on borrowed funds,or will you sacrifice present comfort and the chance to shinebefore your neighbors in order to educate your children, developsuch industry as best serves the great mass of people and makesyour country strong in ability, self-support and self-defense? Such union of effort for strength calls for sacrifice and self-denial,while the capital offered you at high price by the colonial powerslike France, Britain, Holland, Belgium and the United States,will prolong fatal colonial imperialism, from which you have sufferedslavery, serfdom and colonialism. You are not helpless. Youare the buyers of capital goods, and to continue existence assellers of capital, the great nations, former owners of the world,must sell or face bankruptcy. You are not compelled to buy allthey offer now. You can wait. You can starve a while longerrather than sell your great heritage for a mass of western capitalisticpottage.
You cannot only beat down the price of capital as offered by theunited and monopolized western private capitalists, but at lasttoday you can compare their offers with those of socialist countrieslike the Soviet Union and China, which with infinite sacrificeand pouring out of blood and tears, are at last able to offerweak nations needed capital on better terms than the West. Thesupply which socialist nations can at present spare is small ascompared with that of the bloated monopolies of the West, butit is large and rapidly growing. Its acceptance involves no bondswhich a free Africa may not safely assume. It certainly doesnot involve slavery and colonial control which is the price whichthe West has demanded, and still demands. Today she offers acompromise, but one of which you must beware: She offers to letsome of your smarter and less scrupulous leaders become fellowcapitalists with the white exploiters, if in turn they inducethe nation's masses to pay the awful cost. This has happenedin the West Indies and in South America. This may yet happenin the Middle East and Eastern Asia. Strive against it with everyfibre of your bodies and souls. A body of local private capitalists,even if they are black, can never free Africa; they will simplysell it into new slavery to old masters overseas.
As I have said, this is a call for sacrifice. Great Goethe sang,"Entbehren sollst du, sollst entbehren"--"Thoushalt forego, shalt do without." If Africa unites it willbe because each part, each nation, each tribe gives up a partof its heritage for the good of the whole. That is what unionmeans; that is what Pan-Africa means: When the child is borninto the tribe the price of his growing up is to give over a partof his freedom to the tribe. This he soon learns or dies. Whenthe tribe becomes a union of tribes, the individual tribe surrenderssome part of its freedom to the paramount tribe.
When the nation arises, the constituent tribes, clans and groupsmust each yield power and much freedom to the demands of the nationor the nation dies before it is born. Your local tribal, much-lovedlanguages must yield to the few world tongues which serve thelargest numbers of people and promote understanding and worldliterature.
This is the great dilemma which faces Africa today; faces oneand all: Give up individual rights for the needs of the nation;give up tribal independence for the needs of Mother Africa. Forgetnothing but set everything in its rightful place: the Glory ofthe six Ashanti Wars against Britain; the wisdom of the FantiConfederation; the unity of Nigeria; the song of the Songhay andHausa; the rebellion of the Mahdi and the hands of Ethiopia; thegreatness of the Basuto and the fighting of Chaka; the revengeof Mutessa, and many other happenings and men; but above all--Africa,Mother of Men. Your nearest friends and neighbors are the coloredpeople of China and India, the rest of Asia, the Middle East andthe sea isles, once close bound to the heart of Africa and nowlong severed by the greed of Europe. Your bond is no mere colorof skin but the deeper experience of wage slavery and contempt.
So too, your bond with the white world is closest to those likethe Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, who support and defendChina and help the slaves of Tibet and India, and not those whoexploit the Middle East, the West Indies, and South America.
Awake, awake, put on thy strength, O Zion; reject the meeknessof missionaries who teach neither love nor brotherhood, but emphasizethe virtues of private profit from capital, stolen from your landand labor. Africa awake, put on the beautiful robes of Pan-AfricanSocialism.
You have nothing to lose but your Chains!
You have a continent to regain!
You have freedom and human dignity to attain!
The address was greeted with applause. Later Shirley and Mrs.Robeson with the help of Tom Mboya, the chairman, secured theremoval of Chiang Kai-shek's Formosa flag from the assembly hall.
When in Peking, my 91st birthday was given national celebration. I pled for unity of China and Africa and my speech was broadcastto the world:
By courtesy of the government of the 600 million people of theChinese Republic, I am permitted on my 91st birthday to speakto the people of China and Africa and through them to the world. Hail, then, and farewell, dwelling places of the yellow and blackraces. Hail human kind!
I speak with no authority; no assumption of age nor rank; I holdno position, I have no wealth. One thing alone I own and thatis my own soul. Ownership of that I have even while in my owncountry for near a century I have been nothing but a "nigger." On this basis and this alone I dare speak, I dare advise.
China after long centuries has arisen to her feet and leapt forward. Africa, arise, and stand straight, speak and think! Act! Turnfrom the West and your slavery and humiliation for the last 500years and face the rising sun.
Behold a people, the most populous nation on this ancient earth,which has burst its shackles, not by boasting and strutting, notby lying about its history and its conquests, but by patienceand long suffering, by blind struggle, moved up and on towardthe crimson sky. She aims to "make men holy; to make menfree."
But what men? Not simply the mandarins but including mandarins;not simply the rich, but not excluding the rich. Not simply thelearned, but led by knowledge to the end that no man shall bepoor, nor sick, nor ignorant; but that the humblest worker aswell as the sons of emperors shall be fed and taught and healedand that there emerge on earth a single unified people, free,well and educated.
You have been told, my Africa: My Africa in Africa and all yourchildren's children overseas; you have been told and the tellingso beaten into you by rods and whips, that you believe it yourselves,that this is impossible; that mankind can rise only by walkingon men; by cheating them and killing them; that only on a doormatof the despised and dying, the dead and rotten, can a Britisharistocracy, a French cultural elite or an American millionairebe nurtured and grown.
This is a lie. It is an ancient lie spread by church and state,spread by priest and historian, and believed in by fools and cowards,as well as by the downtrodden and the children of despair.
Speak, China, and tell your truth to Africa and the world. Whatpeople have been despised as you have? Who more than you havebeen rejected of men? Recall when lordly Britishers threw therickshaw money on the ground to avoid touching a filthy hand. Forget not the time when in Shanghai no Chinese man dare setfoot in a park which he paid for. Tell this to Africa, for todayAfrica stands on new feet, with new eyesight, with new brainsand asks: Where am I and why?
The Western sirens answer: Britain wheedles; France cajoles;while America, my America, where my ancestors and descendantsfor eight generations have lived and toiled; America loudest ofall, yells and promises freedom. If only Africa allows Americaninvestment!
Beware Africa, America bargains for your soul. America wouldhave you believe that they freed your grandchildren; that Afro-Americansare full American citizens, treated like equals, paid fair wagesas workers, promoted for desert and free to learn and travel acrossthe world
This is not true. Some are near freedom; some approach equalitywith whites; some have achieved education; but the price for thishas too often been slavery of mind, distortion of truth and oppressionof our own people.
Of 18 million Afro-Americans, 12 million are still second-classcitizens of the United States, serfs in farming, low-paid laborersin industry, and repressed members of union labor. Most AmericanNegroes do not vote. Even the rising six million are liable toinsult and discrimination at any time.
But this, Africa, relates to your descendants, not to you. Once I thought of you Africans as children, whom we educatedAfro-Americans would lead to liberty. I was wrong. We couldnot even lead ourselves much less you. Today I see you risingunder your own leadership, guided by your own brains.
Africa does not ask alms from China nor from the SovietUnion nor from France, Britain, nor the United States. It asksfriendship and sympathy and no nation better than China can offerthis to the Dark Continent. Let it be freely given and generously. Let Chinese visit Africa, send their scientists there and theirartists and writers. Let Africa send its students to China andits seekers after knowledge. It will not find on earth a richergoal, a more promising mine of information.
On the other hand, watch the West. The new British WestIndian Federation is not a form of democratic progress but a cunningattempt to reduce these islands to the control of British andAmerican investors. Haiti is dying under rich Haitian investorswho with American money are enslaving the peasantry. Cuba isshowing what the West Indies, Central and South America are sufferingunder American big business.
The American worker himself does not always realize this. He has high wages and many comforts. Rather than lose these,he keeps in office by his vote the servants of industrial exploitationso long as they maintain his wage. His labor leaders representexploitation and not the fight against the exploitation of laborby private capital. These two sets of exploiters fall out onlywhen one demands too large a share of the loot.
This China knows. This Africa must learn. This the AmericanNegro has failed so far to learn. I am frightened by the so-calledfriends who are flocking to Africa. Negro Americans trying tomake money from your toil, white Americans who seek by investmentand high interest to bind you in serfdom to business as the NearEast is bound and as South America is struggling with. For thisAmerica is tempting your leaders, bribing your young scholars,and arming your soldiers. What shall you do?
First, understand! Realize that the great mass of mankindis freeing itself from wage slavery, while private capital inBritain, France, and now in America, is still trying to maintaincivilization and comfort for a few on the toil, disease and ignoranceof the mass of men. Understand this, and understanding comesfrom direct knowledge. You know America and France, and Britainto your sorrow. Now know the Soviet Union, but particularly knowChina.
China is flesh of your flesh, and blood of your blood. China is colored and knows to what a colored skin in this modernworld subjects its owner. But China knows more, much more thanthis: she knows what to do about it. She can take the insultsof the United States and still hold her head high. She can makeher own machines, when America refuses to sell her American manufactures,even though it hurts American industry, and throws her workersout of jobs. China does not need American nor British missionariesto teach her religion and scare her with tales of hell. Chinahas been in hell too long, not to believe in a heaven of her ownmaking. This she is doing.
Come to China, Africa, and look around. Invite Africa to come,China, and see what you can teach by just pointing. Yonder oldwoman is working on the street. But she is happy. She has nofear. Her children are in school and a good school. If she isill, there is a hospital where she is cared for free of charge. She has a vacation with pay each year. She can die and be buriedwithout taxing her family to make some undertaker rich.
Africa can answer: but some of this we have done; our tribesundertake public service like this. Very well, let your tribescontinue and expand this work. What Africa must realize is whatChina knows; that it is worse than stupid to allow a people'seducation to be under the control of those who seek not the progressof the people but their use as means of making themselves richand powerful. It is wrong for the University of London to controlthe University of Ghana. It is wrong for the Catholic churchto direct the education of the black Congolese. It was wrongfor Protestant churches supported by British and American wealthto control higher education in China.
The Soviet Union is surpassing the world in popular and highereducation, because from the beginning it started its own completeeducational system. The essence of the revolution in the SovietUnion and China and in all the "iron curtain" nations,is not the violence that accompanied the change; no more thanstarvation at Valley Forge was the essence of the American revolutionagainst Britain. The real revolution is the acceptance on thepart of the nation of the fact that hereafter the main objectof the nation is the welfare of the mass of the people and notof the lucky few.
Government is for the people's progress and not for the comfortof an aristocracy. The object of industry is the welfare of theworkers and not the wealth of the owners. The object of civilizationis the cultural progress of the mass of workers and not merelyof an intellectual elite. And in return for all this, communistlands believe that the cultivation of the mass of people willdiscover more talent and genius to serve the state than any closedaristocracy ever furnished. This belief the current history ofthe Soviet Union and China is proving true each day. Thereforedon't let the West invest when you can avoid it. Don't buy capitalfrom Britain, France and the United States if you can get it onreasonable terms from the Soviet Union and China. This is notpolitics; it is common sense. It is learning from experience. It is trusting your friends and watching your enemies. Refuseto be cajoled or to change your way of life, so as to make a fewof your fellows rich at the expense of a mass of workers growingpoor and sick and remaining without schools so that a few blackmen can have automobiles.
Africa, here is a real danger which you must avoid or return tothe slavery from which you are emerging. All I ask from you isthe courage to know; to look about you and see what is happeningin this old and tired world; to realize the extent and depth ofits rebirth and the promise which glows on your hills.
Visit the Soviet Union and visit China. Let your youth learnthe Russian and Chinese languages. Stand together in this newworld and let the old world perish in its greed or be born againin new hope and promise. Listen to the Hebrew prophet of communism:
Ho! every one that thirsteth; come ye to the waters; come, buyand eat, without money and price!
Again, China and Africa, hail and farewell!
From W.E.B. DuBois, The Autobiography of W.E.B. DuBois: A Soliloquy on Viewing My Life from the Last Decade of Its First Century.New York, NY: International Publishers Co. Inc., 1968, pp. 396-408.