The ape-man found the country he was crossing rough in

source:androidtime:2023-12-06 10:12:50

"Among the West Point graduates this year is young Flipper, a lad of color and of African descent. It is stated that he acquitted himself very respectably in his examination by the Board of Visitors, that he will pass creditably, and that he will go into the cavalry, which is rather an aristocratic branch, we believe, of the service. Mr. Flipper must have had rather a hard time of it during his undergraduate career, if, as we find it stated, most if not all his white fellow-students have declined to associate with him. He has behaved so well under these anomalous circumstances, that he has won the respect of those who, so far as the discipline of the school would permit, ignored his existence. 'We have no feeling against him,' said one of the students, 'but still we could not associate with him. It may be prejudice, but still we couldn't do it.' Impossibilities should be required of no one, and if the white West Pointers could not treat Mr. Flipper as if he were one of themselves, why of course that is an end of the matter. So long as they kept within the rules of the service, and were guilty of no conduct 'unbecoming an officer and a gentleman,' it was not for their commanders to interfere. But when they tell us that they couldn't possibly associate with Mr. Flipper, who is allowed to have 'shown pluck and gentlemanly qualities,' we may at least inquire whether they have tried to do so. Conquering prejudices implies a fight with prejudices --have these young gentlemen had any such fight? Have they too 'shown pluck and gentlemanly qualities?'

The ape-man found the country he was crossing rough in

"We are not disposed to speak harshly of these fastidious young fellows, who will not be long out of the school before they will be rather sorry that they didn't treat Mr. Flipper a little more cordially. But a much more important matter is that he has, in spite of his color, made a good record every way, has kept up with his class, has not been dropped or dismissed, but emerges a full-blown Second Lieutenant of Cavalry. He has thus achieved a victory not only for himself but for his race. He has made matters easier for future colored cadets; and twenty years hence, if not sooner, the young white gentlemen of West Point will read of the fastidiousness of their predecessors with incredulous wonder. Time and patience will settle every thing."

The ape-man found the country he was crossing rough in

"The most striking illustration of class prejudice this year has been afforded, not by Mississippi or Louisiana, but by West Point. In 1873 Cadet Flipper entered the Military Academy. God had given him a black skin, a warm heart, an active brain, and a patriotic ambition. He was guilty of no other crime than that of being a negro, and bent on obtaining a good education. He represented a race which had done as good fighting for the flag as any done by the fair- skinned Anglo-Saxon or Celt. Congress had recognized his right and the right of his race to education.

The ape-man found the country he was crossing rough in

"But his classmates decided that it should be denied him. If they had possessed the brutal courage of the murderers of Chisholm they would have shot him, or whipped him, or hung him; but they were not brave enough for that, and they invented instead a punishment worse than the State has inflicted upon its most brutal criminals. They condemned him to four years of solitude and silence. For four years not a classmate spoke to Cadet Flipper; for three years he did not hear his own voice, except in the recitation-room, on leave of absence, or in chance conversation with a stray visitor. Then another negro entered West Point, and he had one companion. The prison walls of a Sing Sing cell are more sympathetic than human prejudice. And in all that class of '77 there were not to be found a dozen men brave enough to break through this wall of silence and give the imprisoned victim his liberty. At least two thirds of the class are Republican appointees; and not one champion of equal rights. In all that class but one hero--and he a negro. Seventy-five braves against one! And the one was victorious. He fought out the four years' campaign, conquered and graduated. Honor to the African; shame to the Anglo-Saxon."

"We have received several letters on the subject of Cadet Flipper, to whose treatment at West Point we recently called the attention of our readers. One of them is from a former instructor, who bears a high testimony to Lieutenant Flipper's character. He writes:

"'I want to thank you for your editorial in the Christian Union about Cadet Flipper. He was one of our boys; was with us in school from the beginning of his education till Freshman year in college, when he received his appointment to West Point. He was always obedient, faithful, modest, and in every way manly. We were sorry to have him leave us; but now rejoice in his victory, and take pride in him.

"'During all these years, in his correspondence with his friends, he has not, so far as I can learn, uttered a single complaint about his treatment.'

"A second is from a Canadian reader, who objects to our condemnation of the Anglo-Saxon race, and insists that we should have reserved it for the Yankees. In Canada, he assures us, the color line is unknown, and that negroes and Anglo-Saxons mingle in the same school and in the same sports without prejudice. Strange to say the white men are not colored by the intercourse.