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(caption title) The Negro and War Savings in North Carolina
Kate M. Herring
Durham, N. C.
[Duke University Press]
Call number C050 S73 v. 18 (North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Appears in South Atlantic Quarterly. Vol. 18, no. 1 (Jan. 1919)
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[Title Page Image]
KATE M. HERRING
That the South failed to raise its War Savings allotment for 1918 cannot be attributed to the Negro. When the National War Savings Committee met to formulate plans and decided to make the apportionments to the states on a basis of population, representatives from the South objected to the plan on the ground that the Negro could not buy $20 per capita of War Savings Certificates. The committee, however, held to its original plan, expecting the South to make of the Negro no issue or exception in this war measure.
North Carolina at no time felt that the Negro would be a handicap to her in War Savings work. From the beginning, Col. F. H. Fries, State Director, made plans whereby the Negroes could work independently as citizens and do their part as patriots. His plan of state organization included an organization for the white people and one for the colored, each with a separate state headquarters. Both headquarters were established at Winston-Salem, and the one for Negroes was operated under the supervision of, and in close touch with, the one for the white people. Dr. R. B. McCrary, a prominent business man of Lexington, was made chairman, and Prof. S. G. Atkins, Principal of the Slater Normal School, Winston-Salem, was made Executive Secretary. Other prominent colored men who have been active in War Savings work are C. S. Brown, Principal of the Watters Normal School, Winton; T. S. Inborden, Principal of the Bricks School, Enfield; Bishop G. W. Clinton, A. M. E. Church, Charlotte; H. L. McCrory, President of Biddle University, Charlotte; and W. H. Goler, Salisbury; Col. James H. Young, Raleigh; John Merrick, Durham; E. G. Storey, Wilmington; S. H. Vick, Wilson; and C. M. Epps, Greenville,--all business men of ability and prominence.
The War Savings records for North Carolina show that the colored people pledged to buy War Savings Stamps far more in keeping with their ability than the white people. A comparative study of the counties that subscribed 100 per cent. of
their War Savings allotment and the counties that have the greatest percentage of Negro population shows that the Negro is not responsible for the state having failed to raise its entire War Savings allotment.
To December 1, North Carolina had subscribed for three-fourths of her entire War Savings allotment which was $48,500,000. The population of North Carolina is 68 per cent. white, 31.6 Negro, and the balance Indian. Nineteen counties in the state subscribed their entire War Savings quota. These, with the percentages of their War Savings subscriptions and the percentages of their Negro population, are:
|County||Per Cent. of W. S. S. Subscribed||Per Cent. of Negro Population|
Taking an average for these nineteen counties, one finds that with 42 per cent. of their population Negroes, they subscribed 106 per cent. of their War Savings allotment, while 31.6 per cent. is the average Negro population of the state, and 76 per cent. is the average War Savings allotment raised by all the counties of the state. Moreover, six of the nineteen counties lie in the Black Belt, that is, that section of the state where the Negro population is greater than the white. From the foregoing it appears that the counties making the
best showing in the War Savings Campaign had a greater percentage of negro population than the average for the state.
But to approach the question from another angle, what showing have the Black Counties made? Fourteen counties, of which over half the population is Negroes, comprise what is known as the Black Belt of the state. The percentages of their negro population, also the percentages of their War Savings allotment raised are:
|County||Per Cent. of Negro Population||Per Cent. of W. S. S. Subscribed|
With 56 per cent. of their population Negroes, these fourteen counties subscribed over 80 per cent. of their War Savings allotment, which is 4 per cent. more than the average for the state. It appears that whether the race composition of the counties is considered, or the support that the counties with a large Negro population have given the War Savings Campaign, the result is the same. The Negro has not been a weight about the neck of North Carolina in its War Savings work.
For the reasons that the white and colored people have not been differentiated in the War Savings work of North Carolina, and that separate records of the subscriptions made by each were not kept, it is impossible to know how the subscriptions of one race compare with the subscriptions of the other, either in number or amount. But it is known that the Negroes who were able to subscribe large amounts have done so.
Scores of colored men, and not a few colored women, have
become Limit Club members by purchasing $1,000 worth of War Savings Certificates. Anson county has a colored Limit Club of nine members. One of the first men in the state to purchase $1,000 of War Savings Certificates for himself and each member of his family, a total of $4,000, was Dr. C. H. Hines, of Edenton. On giving his check for this amount, he said, "I would as gladly give it as lend it if giving it would any sooner end the war."
On the other hand, it is known that the people with small means have subscribed in keeping with their ability. Some have made genuine sacrifices to meet their obligations called for in the War Savings Campaign.
An old man who had been saving for years that he might own a home and a plat of land in his own life time said, when he was called on to buy War Savings Stamps, that he had waited this long to own a home and that he would gladly wait five years longer, if lending his money to the Government would help win the war.
A colored washerwoman, whose labors are the sole support of her blind husband and three children, said that it was her blind husband's wish that he could buy a bond or $50 worth of stamps as his part in helping win the war. "Put him down for fifty dollars," she said, "I will continue to wash and save until I pay for it."
Colored school teachers have shown a most intelligent response to the purposes and plans of the thrift movement. Winnie Williams, a colored school teacher of Warren county, furnishes an example of their enthusiasm and co-operation in the War Savings activities of the State. Friday, June 28, in the absence of the township chairman, she called a meeting of the patrons of the district at her schoolhouse and took their subscriptions for $1,800 worth of War Savings Stamps.
Prof. H. F. Woodhouse, of Elizabeth City, Negro teacher-preacher, has been a most zealous thrift missionary to the colored people of Pasquotank county. He has organized nine War Savings Societies with a total membership of 2,988. He says that 2,973 of this number are buying War Savings Stamps by the "thrift card route", while the remaining fifteen are able to buy War Savings Stamps directly. Professor Woodhouse
says that the doctrine of thrift has been the greatest blessing that could come to his people, and that it will be the saving grace of the next generation of negroes.
Apparently North Carolina's experience with the Negro in the War Savings Campaign is not unlike that of other Southern States. From an inquiry made of the War Savings Directors of several states of the South as to the co-operation of the Negro in the War Savings Campaign, it was found that the support he has given has been extremely gratifying. Florida reported that the ten counties of that State making the best showing in the War Savings pledge drive in June had from 40 to 50 per cent. colored population, and that the ten counties making the poorest showing had from 30 to 40 per cent. colored population. Mississippi reported that the Negroes of that State gave a support to the campaign that equalled that of the white people.
What is the explanation of the support given by the Negroes of North Carolina to the War Savings Campaign? In the first place, the counties which have made probably the best showing in War Savings and which have the largest Negro population lie in the most fertile agricultural sections of the state. The blackest counties are the richest counties. In the second place, the first three Liberty Bond campaigns did not reach the farmers of the state to any great extent. The War Savings campaign was the first call of the government to reach all the people, and it found the agricultural sections a rich vein. In the third place, North Carolina recognized the Negro as an American citizen and gave him responsibilities the same as white men. He was made to know that he was expected not only to meet these responsibilities but to recognize them as opportunities offered him by the government for building up a strong and patriotic citizenship. Like the colored soldier at the front, he heard the call and responded.