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The First Universal Race Congress
Anonymous, with Partial Speech by DuBois

Anonymous. 1911. "The First Universal Race Congress in London, England." The American Missionary, v.45, n.9 (September): 323-324.

Online Source:
In addition to the article itself, the entire Vol. 45 of The American Missionary is available online at Google Books: start page of article.

Robert Williams' Notes:
The First Universal Races Congress was held at the University of London, July 26-29, 1911. Du Bois attended the conference and presented a paper entitled "The Negro Race in the United States of America" (pp. 348-376 in Spiller, Gustav (Ed.). 1911. Papers on Inter-Racial Problems, Communicated to the First Universal Races Congress, held at the University of London, July 26-29, 1911 (London: P.S. King & Son) [available at the Internet Archive or at Google Books].

Regarding the title of the article presented below, the actual conference title was the "First Universal Races Congress" and not "Race" in the singular. That detail derives from the published collection of conference papers (see the citation above).

The article below includes quotations from a speech presented by Du Bois at the Lyceum Club. On this speech Du Bois wrote in Dusk of Dawn (Ch. 8):
    In further emphasis of this statement and in anticipation of the meeting of the proposed Races Congress, Mr. Milholland arranged that I should go early to London and make some addresses. The plan simmered down to an address before the Lyceum Club, the leading woman's club of London. There it encountered opposition. An American woman member wrote: "I think there is serious objection to entertaining Dr. Du Bois at the Lyceum." The result was an acrimonious controversy from which I tried to withdraw gently but was unable. Finally led by Her Highness, the then Ranee of Sarawak and Dr. Etta Sayre, a luncheon was held at the Lyceum Club with a bishop and two countesses; several knights and ladies, and men like Maurice Hewlett and Sir Harry Johnston; I was the chief speaker.
This sketch of events was repeated almost verbatim in DuBois' Autobiography: Chapter XV.

Jeffrey Green in his Black Edwardians indicated that Du Bois spoke at the Lyceum Club on 26 June 1911 (p.248 at Google Books: Black Edwardians: Black People in Britain, 1901-1914, London: Frank Cass, 1998). Green does not indicate whether there was any conflict over Du Bois's presence at the Lyceum Club.

For a contemporary description of the Congress -- one which includes photographs of some of the participants, including DuBois himself -- see Saint Nihal Singh's "Trying to Solve the Problems of Race" in The American Review of Reviews, v.44,n.3 (September 1911): 339-344. Singh's article is viewable online at Google Books.

The otherwise anonymously published article is presented below verbatim and in its entirety.

"WHAT more fitting center," writes Dr. Du Bois, "than London for the coming together of the first world conference of the races and peoples of the world? Its action and its conclusions will be received with interest."
We read that Dr. Du Bois has been invited as the guest of honor at various entertainments to meet some of the most distinguished people of England. At the Lyceum Club dinner Dr. Du Bois described conditions in America, the denial of civil rights, the insults and humiliation the colored man and woman must face:
"Why is this? It is not because the American white people are unusually devilish -- they are on the whole about the same kind of people that you are and you, under similar circumstances in India and Africa, have shown similar tendencies. Consequently the Americans interpret the public opinion of Europe as justifying them to make what I may call the three refusals:
This starts an extensive quotation from DuBois's speech at the Lyceum Club; it goes through to the article's end.
"1. The refusal to treat civilized black men as civilized.
"2. The refusal to allow particular black men to become civilized.
"3. The refusal to assume the possibility of civilizing most black men.
"These refusals involve great and threatening social cost.
"Among the whites they give rise to insulting manners toward the lowly; they prevent the contact of the cultured and the undeveloped; they lead to an absurd lack of logic, as, for instance, accusing of bad manners those against whom every effort is made to give them no chance to see good manners, and above all crying for purity of race after the whites have been responsible for two or three million mulattoes. Further than this the three refusals lead to injustice in the courts and a terrible paradox in religion, for while professing a religion of humility and equality the Christian Church in America has for the most part refused fellowship with black men.
"Among Negroes these three refusals lead to a loss of self-respect or immoderate self-assertion; they hinder the natural differentiation into classes according to culture and efficiency, and they force thinking Negroes either into subservient hypocrisy or paralyzing bitterness.
"How far now is America's interpretations of Europe's attitude toward the darker world justified? It must be confessed with sorrow that modern European civilization has fallen victim to the temptation of all former civilizations -- the temptation of despising men; of assuming that no other peoples are worth consideration and respect but those who share their own culture. The tendency is to assume an inevitable aristocracy of races, with whites at the top and blacks at the bottom. No sooner is this assumption boldly stated, however, than we remember that the same assumption was made less than a century ago concerning classes in the same nation, and that to-day European culture is largely sustained by descendants of social classes whom the eighteenth century pronounced incapable of uplift.
"Moreover, science to-day places no meets and bounds to the development of races given the favorable environment, and there is no scientific proof that an individual of any race may not reach the highest. For this reason is it not the wisest and best course to refuse to tread the paths of exclusion and human despisery and to see that the gates of opportunity are absolutely closed in the faces of no race or people?" This paragraph ends the quoted material from DuBois's speech at the Lyceum Club.
[End of original text.]  

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