|Date(s):||August 14, 1910|
|Tag(s):||Church/Religious-Activity, Temperance Movement, Prohibition, african americans, Race Relations|
|Course:||“Historian's Craft,” University of Alabama at Birmingham|
|Rating:||5 (2 votes)|
A flyer stating “Colored Citizens Mass Meeting” describes the movement of African-American pastors to change the view of the “Negro Race.”. The flyer describes the place and time that congregations would meet and the objectives of the meeting. The meeting was called in an attempt to “protest against colored women visiting barrooms and barroom premises [and] also against children visiting such places, for whisky and beer.” The pastors also called for a protest in favor of temperance within the African-American communities because alcohol was viewed as “[an] evil... [that is] most disgraceful to the Negro race.”
Although, as the flyer suggests, African-American pastors were concerned about African-American welfare and pro-temperance historian Lee Willis claims that “black churches remained reluctant to endorse temperance whole-heartedly.” This reluctance of the African-American community was due to the racial undertones of the temperance movement within the white community. Historian Wayne Flynt examines how Alabama Baptist ministers harnessed racism within Alabama as a catalyst for the Temperance movement. Flynt states that “Crumpton combined racial politics with prohibition, describing whiskey bottles ‘sold only to the brutish negroes’ that contained pictures of nude white women.” The racist rhetoric used by Crumpton and other white temperance leaders is the cause behind the ambivalence of African-American pastors and community leaders to join the movement.
Despite the reluctance of many African-American leaders to join the cause of the white temperance movement the African-American community would begin to establish their own independent movement. This allowed the African-American community to ride the wave of temperance all the while having distanced themselves from white attempts to regain control of their community. African-American pastors would establish their own movement in an attempt to create a “stepping stone to a greater civil and political advancement.” Although white communities had their own agendas; Historian Donald Yacovone explains that African-American communities made efforts to “adopt temperance principles [in order to] gain white respect.” Many African-American leaders hoped to curb the prejudice views of the white community through temperance.
This flyer exemplifies the African-American community’s reaction to the Temperance movement and the attempt of African-American pastors to create, as described by Yacovone, a “moral reform [that] would cause slavery, prejudice, and intemperance to disappear.” The call for “protest [against] the evils [that are] most disgraceful to the Negro race” show an attempt for the African-American community to move forward in order to control their own communities through reform and progressive acts without allowing the white community to once again control their daily lives.