Saturday, May 10, 2014

MARTIN ROBINSON DELANY: GRANDFATHER OF RADICAL BLACK NATIONALISM, AFRICANA FEMINIST, SURGEON AND THE FIRST AFRICA-AMERICAN FIELD OFFICER IN US ARMY DURING THE CIVIL WAR

"Shall we now fly to arms and sacrifice our lives to bind new chains upon our already festered limbs? No! God forbid. We are in advance of our fathers. They put confidence in the word of the whites only to feel the dagger of slavery driven still deeper. Our enslaved brothers must be made freedmen. We of the North must have all rights which white men enjoy. Until then we are no condition to fight under the flag which gives no protection."- Dr. Martin Robinson Delany, Grandfather of Black Nationalism in United States and the first African-American field officer in the United States Army during the Civil War.
Martin Robinson Delany, Grandfather of Black Nationalism in United States and the first African-American field officer in the United States Army during the Civil War

Martin Robinson Delany (born 6th May 1812, died 24th January 1885) was an African- American, abolitionist, journalist, physician, writer, and arguably the first proponent of American black nationalism. Delany who was also an editor, theorist, explorer, diplomat, scientist, philosopher and civil right activist is considered to be the grandfather of Black nationalism. He was also one of the first three blacks admitted to Harvard Medical School. As a true patriot, after his training as an assistant and a physician, he treated patients during the cholera epidemics of 1833 and 1854 in Pittsburgh, when many doctors and residents fled the city. He was the first black man to coin the phrase ""Africa for Africans" in 1859 long before Marcus Garvey borrowed it from him.

Delany who was of Mandinka (Malinke/Mandingo) ancestry from West Africa became the first African-American field officer in the United States Army during the Civil War. His achievements in life are quite glowing and impressive. Scholars refer to him as a "Renaissance Man" who was able to cram at least a "half a dozen lifetimes into one" (Clark, 1974, p. xxi). Delany is paid a tribute particularly for his vigor and mastery of these profession in his mission to strive toward restoration, reclamation, redevelopment and enhancement of African peoples` lives.
 After the Civil War, he worked for the Freedmen's Bureau in the South, settling in South Carolina, where he became politically active. He ran unsuccessfully for Lieutenant Governor and was appointed a Trial Judge. Later he switched his party loyalty and worked for the campaign of Democrat Wade Hampton III, who won the 1876 election for governor.
In 19th century, Frances Rollin whipper, author of the book "The Life and Public Service of Martin Delany" lauded him for his lifelong commitment to the upliftment of  Black people and rejection of any assertion about the African`s innate inferiority. Whipper described him as man who soared above the prescribed limits and stood proudly before the country, "the blackest of the black presenting in himself a giant`s powers warped in chains, and evidencing in his splendid career the fallacy of the old partisan of Negro inferiority and degradation."
In his 1852 seminal book "The Condition, Elevation, Emigration and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States" (hereafter The Condition), Delany conveyed his infamous message to the world—that Blacks were a “nation within a nation” depicting Blacks as these “classes of people who have been deprived of equal privileges, political, religious and social…and who have been looked upon as inferior by their oppressors.” Delany writes:
"In the United States, among the whites, their color
is made, by law and custom the mark of distinction
and superiority, while the color of the blacks is a badge
of degradation, acknowledged by statute,organic law,
and the common consent of the people. With this view
of the case—which we hold to be correct—to elevate
to equality the degraded subject of law and custom, …can
only be done…by an entire destruction of the identity of the
former applicant. Even were this desirable, which we by no
 means admit ,(emphasis added) with the deep-seated prejudices
engendered by oppression, with which we have to contend,
ages incalculable might reasonably be expected to roll around
before this could honorably be accomplished."
 Delany strongly maintains that Blacks should keep their racial identity and develop their race’s “native characteristics”for the betterment of their people.
He says,
"Our friends in this and other countries, anxious for
our elevation, have for years been erroneously urging
us to lose our identity as a distinct race, declaring we
were the same as other people; while at the very same
time their own representative was traversing the world,
and propagating the doctrine in favor of a universal
Anglo-Saxon predominance…The truth is, we are not
identical with the Anglo-Saxon or any other race of the
Caucasian or pure white type of the human family, and
the sooner we know and acknowledge this truth the better
for ourselves and posterity."
Delany`s last major work, Principia of Ethnology: The Origins of Race and Color (Hereafter Principia) published in 1879, was his most definitive articulation of race and also showed him at his intellectual zenith. According to Delany, race is God’s method. It is the key to God’s design for man to “scatter abroad upon the face of the whole earth and to multiply and replenish it.” By making races, God marked men with a distinction that would “fix in the people a desire to be separated by reason of race affinity.”
According to Delany, races did not exist prior to the“dispersion,” because every human being was of the same complexion (color). Delany thought “Noah and his family were Adamites, himself and wife undoubtedly of the same color as that of their progenitors, Adam and Eve. And from the Garden of Eden to the Building of the Tower, there was but one race of people known as such, or no classification of different peoples.”
Separate “racial groups” did not come about until God commanded Noah’s three sons to inhabit different corners of the earth. Delany is quite clear on this point.
He argues it is:
"When by Divine command to go forth through the
earth, the separation took place, the people led by
the three sons of Noah, began a new progress in life,
as three distinct peoples, of entirely different interests,
aims, and ends. Shem remained in Asia; Ham went to
Africa, and Japheth journeyed to Europe, permanently
and forever severing their connexion with each other,
henceforth becoming different peoples and divided as
 though they never had been united. And then the different
Races of the Human Family had just begun."
Delany was a radical. He wanted change, but did not use violent means. He was innovational. He supported values of society, but not the practices. He was also a famous Feminist advocate who fought in the trenches for emancipation and right of quality education for black women. He once stated "Let our young women have an education; let their minds be well informed; stored with useful information and practical proficiency, rather than the light superficial acquirements, popularly and fashionably called accomplishments. We desire accomplishments, but they must be useful."
Professor Tolagbe Ogunleye put in his lists of celebrated 19th Century Africana Womanists of his 1998 published work "Dr. Martin Robison Delany, 19th-Century Africana Womanists: Reflections on His Avant-Garde Politics Concerning Gender, Colorism, and Nation Building." On his womanist advocacy he is reported to have stated that "Our females must be qualified because they are the mothers of our children. As mothers are the first nurses and instructors of children; from them children consequently get their first impressions, which being always the most lasting should be the most correct. Raise mothers above the level of degradation, and the offspring is elevated with them."
As a radical Africanist leader Dr Delany had frictions with other moderate black leaders of his time. Historian McCain T. Hamrick writing about the leadership style stated that "Delany's style of leadership was abdacratic. He came along at a time when the movement for equal rights in America was not led by any one person. He tried to do some things with other leaders like Frederick Douglas, but never really saw eye to eye with Douglas or any other leaders of the time."
Martin R. Delany one of the first three blacks admitted to Harvard Medical School and the first black man to coin the phrase ""Africa for Africans" in 1859

Delany was born free in Charles Town, West Virginia (then part of Virginia, a slave state) to Pati and Samuel Delaney. Although his father Samuel was enslaved, his mother was a free woman, and Martin took her status under slave law. Both sets of Martin Delany's grandparents were African.
Delaney's paternal grandparents were of Gola ethnicity (from modern-day Liberia), taken captive during warfare and brought as slaves to the Virginia colony. Family oral history said that the grandfather was a chieftain, escaped to Canada for a period, and died resisting slavery abuses.
Pati's parents were born in the Niger Valley, west Africa, and were of Mandinka ethnicity. Her father was said to have been a prince named Shango, captured with his betrothed Graci and brought to America as slaves. After some time, they were given their freedom in Virginia, perhaps based on their noble birth. Shango returned to Africa. Graci stayed in America with their only daughter Pati. When Delany was just a few years old, attempts were made to enslave him and a sibling. Their mother Pati carried her two youngest children 20 miles to the courthouse in Winchester to argue successfully for her family's freedom based on her own free birth.
As he was growing up, Delany and his siblings learned to read and write using The New York Primer and Spelling Book, given to them by a peddler. Virginia prohibited education of black people. When the book was discovered in September 1822, Pati took her children out of Virginia to Chambersburg in the free state of Pennsylvania to ensure their continued freedom. They had to leave their father Samuel, but a year later he bought his freedom and rejoined the family in Chambersburg.
In Chambersburg, the young Delany continued learning. Occasionally he left school to work when his family could not afford for his education to continue. In 1831, at the age of 19, he journeyed west to the growing city of Pittsburgh, where he became a barber and laborer. Having heard stories about his parents' ancestors, he wanted to visit Africa, which he considered his spiritual home.
Delany became a student . of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Wylie Avenue. Shortly after, he began attending Jefferson College, where he was taught classics, Latin and Greek by Molliston M. Clark.
During the national cholera epidemic in , Delany became apprenticed to Dr. Andrew N. McDowell, where he learned contemporary techniques of fire cupping and leeching, then considered the primary techniques to treat disease. He continued to study medicine under the mentorship of Dr. McDowell and other abolitionist doctors, such as Dr. F. Julius LeMoyne and Dr. Joseph P. Gazzam of Pittsburgh.
Delany became more active in political matters. In 1835 he attended his first National Negro Convention, held in Philadelphia since 1831. He was inspired to conceive a plan to set up a 'Black Israel' on the east coast of Africa. He also became involved in the temperance movement and organizations caring for fugitive slaves who had escaped to Pennsylvania, a free state.
While in Pittsburgh, Delany began writing on public issues. In 1843 he began publishing The Mystery, a black-controlled newspaper. His articles and other writings were often reprinted in other venues, such as in abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison's The Liberator. It must be noted that whilst Delany was living in Pittsburgh, in 1843 he met and married Catherine A. Richards. She was the daughter of a successful food provisioner, said to be one of the wealthiest families in the city. The couple had eleven children, seven of whom survived into adulthood. The parents stressed education and some of their children graduated from college.
Delany was a an intelligent and gifted orator. A eulogy which Delany delivered for Rev. Fayette Davis in 1847 was widely redistributed. His activities brought controversy in 1846, when he was sued for libel by "Fiddler" Johnson, a black man he accused in The Mystery of being a slave catcher. Delany was convicted and fined $650 — a huge amount at the time. His white supporters in the newspaper business paid the fine for him.
While Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison were in Pittsburgh in 1847 on an anti-slavery tour, they met with Delany. Together the men conceived the newspaper that became the North Star. It was first published later that year in Rochester, New York. The business was handled by Douglass, while Delany traveled to lecture, report, and obtain subscriptions. During these travels, he was frequently confronted by mobs opposing his views, sometimes violently.
In July 1848 Delany reported in the North Star that U.S District Court Justice John McLean had instructed the jury in the Crosswait trial to consider it a punishable offense for a citizen to thwart white persons' trying to "repossess" an alleged runaway slave. His coverage influenced abolitionist Salmon P. Chase to lead a successful drive to remove McLean as a candidate of the Free Soil Party for the Presidency later that summer.
While living in Pittsburgh, Delany studied the basics of medicine under doctors and maintained his own cupping and leeching practice. In 1849 he began to study more seriously to prepare to apply to medical school. In 1850 he failed to be accepted to several institutions before being accepted to Harvard Medical School, after presenting letters of support from seventeen physicians. He was one of the first three black men to be admitted there.
The month after his arrival, however, a group of white students wrote to the faculty, complaining that "the admission of blacks to the medical lectures highly detrimental to the interests, and welfare of the Institution of which we are members." They stated they had "no objection to the education and elevation of blacks but do decidedly remonstrate against their presence in College with us." Within three weeks, Delany and his two fellow black students, Daniel Laing, Jr. and Isaac H. Snowden, were dismissed, despite dissenting opinion among students and staff at the medical school. Furious, Delany returned to Pittsburgh.
He became convinced that the white ruling class would not allow deserving persons of color to become leaders in society, and his opinions became more extreme. His book, The Condition, Elevation, Emigration, and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States, Politically Considered (1852) argued that blacks had no future in the United States. He suggested they should leave and found a new nation elsewhere, perhaps in the West Indies or South America.
More moderate abolitionists were alienated by his position, and they resented his criticism of those who failed to hire colored men in their own businesses. Delany also criticized racial segregation among Freemasons, a fraternal organization.
As a response to Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, in 1859 and 1862, Delany published parts of Blake: Or The Huts of America in serialized form. His novel portrayed an insurrectionist's travels through slave communities. He believed that Stowe had portrayed slaves as too passive, although he praised her highlighting the cruelty of Southern slave owners. Modern scholars have praised Delany's novel as an accurate interpretation of black culture. The first half of Part One was serialized in The Anglo-African Magazine, January to July 1859. The rest of Part One was included in serial form in the Weekly Anglo African Magazine from 1861-1862.[11] This was the first novel by a black man to be published in the United States.[citation needed]
Delany worked for a brief period as principal of a colored school before going into practice as a physician. During another cholera outbreak in 1854, most doctors abandoned the city, as did many residents who could leave, as no one knew how the disease was caused nor how to control the epidemic. With a small group of nurses, Delany remained and cared for the victims.
In August 1854 Delany led the National Emigration Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Delany advanced his emigrationist argument in his manifesto "Political Destiny of the Colored Race on the American Continent". The convention approved a resolution stating, "[A]s men and equals, we demand every political right, privilege and position to which the whites are eligible in the United States, and we will either attain to these, or accept nothing." There were a significant number of women attendees who also voted for the resolution, considered the foundation of black nationalism.
In May 1859 Delany sailed from New York for Liberia, to investigate the possibility of a new black nation in the region. He traveled in the region for nine months. He signed an agreement with eight chiefs in the Abeokuta region that would permit settlers to live on "unused land" in return for using their skills for the community's good. It is a question whether Delany and the chiefs shared the same concepts of land use. The treaty was later dissolved due to warfare in the region, opposition by white missionaries, and the advent of the American Civil War.
In April 1860 Delany left Liberia for England, where he was honored by the International Statistical Congress. One American delegate walked out in protest. At the end of 1860, Delany returned to the United States. The next year, he began planning settlement of Abeokuta. He gathered a group of potential settlers and funding. When Delany decided to remain in the United States to work for emancipation of slaves, the pioneer plans fell apart.
In 1863 after Abraham Lincoln had called for a military draft, Delany began recruiting black men for the Union Army. His efforts in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and later Ohio raised thousands of enlistees, many of whom joined the newly formed United States Colored Troops. He wrote to the Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton, requesting that he make efforts "to command all of the effective black men as Agents of the United States," but the request was ignored.
In early 1865 Delany was granted an audience with Lincoln. He proposed a corps of black men led by black officers who could serve to win over Southern blacks. Although a similar appeal by Frederick Douglass had already been rejected, Lincoln was impressed by Delany and described him as "a most extraordinary and intelligent man."
Delany was commissioned as a major a few weeks later, becoming the first black line field officer in the U.S. Army and achieving the highest rank an African American would reach during the Civil War. After the war, he remained with the Army and served under General Rufus Saxton in the 52nd U.S. Colored Troops. He was later transferred to the Freedmen's Bureau, serving on Hilton Head. He shocked white officers with his strong call for the right of freed blacks to own land. Later in 1865, he was mustered out of the Freedmen's Bureau and shortly afterward resigned from the Army.
Following the war, Delany continued to be politically active. He worked to help black cotton farmers improve their business and negotiating skills to get a better price for their product. He also argued against blacks, when he saw fit. For instance, he opposed the vice presidential candidacy of J. J. Wright on the grounds of inexperience, and he opposed the candidacy of another black man for the mayor of Charleston, South Carolina.
Delany unsuccessfully sought various positions, such as the appointment as Consul General in Liberia and nomination for lieutenant governor of South Carolina. In 1874, Delany ran and lost an election for Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina to Richard Howell Gleaves. He was appointed as a Trial Justice in Charleston. In 1875 charges of "defrauding a church" were brought against him. He was convicted, forced to resign, and served some time in jail. Although pardoned by the Republican governor, Delany was not allowed to return to his former position.
Delany supported the Democratic candidate Wade Hampton in the 1876 gubernatorial election. Partly as a result of black swing votes encouraged by Delany, Hampton was elected. Much more significant to his victory was the intimidation and violence practiced by "rifle clubs" and the Red Shirts, a paramilitary group of mostly white men, who worked to suppress black voting at the polls. Historian George C. Rable described them as acting as "the military arm of the Democratic Party." By 1876, there were estimated to be 20,000 white men who were members of rifle clubs in the state. More than 150 blacks were killed in violence related to the election. Hampton reappointed Delany as Trial Justice.
White Democrats soon replaced Delany as Justice. In 1877 the federal government withdrew its troops from the South, marking an end to the Reconstruction era. Paramilitary groups such as the Red Shirts continued to suppress black voting in the Carolinas, especially in the upland counties.
In reaction to whites' regaining power and the suppression of black voting, Charleston-based blacks started planning again for emigration to Africa. In 1877, they formed the 'Liberia Exodus Joint Stock Steamship Company', with Delany as chairman of the finance committee. A year later, the company purchased a ship, the Azor, for the voyage. Delany worked as president of the board to organize the voyage.
In 1880, Delany withdrew from the project to serve his family. Two of his children were students at Wilberforce College in Ohio and required money for tuition fees. His wife had been working as a seamstress to make ends meet. Delany began practicing medicine again in Charleston. On 24 January 1885, he died of tuberculosis in Wilberforce, Ohio.
In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed Martin R. Delany as among the 100 Greatest African Americans.
In 1991, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission installed a historical marker near 5 PPG Place in Pittsburgh, near to where published 'The Mystery, that commemorated Delany's historic importance. In 2003, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission installed a second historical marker on Main Street in Chambersburg, noting Delany's historic importance.
Delany's unfinished novel Blake: or, the Huts of America advocated black activism and rebellion. In it Delany reworked several of Stephen Foster's sentimental "plantation songs". Thus he reappropriated material for his own purposes, to express black resistance and independence. Songs had been used in minstrel shows, in part to show slave contentment or lack of resistance to slavery. For example, Foster's "Old Uncle Ned" mourned the passing of a slave:
Den lay down de shubble and de hoe
Hang up de fiddle and de bow:
No more hard work for poor old Ned
He's gone whar de good darkeys go.
Delany turned this into a song of rebellion about the death of a master:
Hang up the shovel and thee hoe-o-o-o!
I don't care whether I work or no!
Old master's gone to the slaveholders' rest —
He's gone where they all ought to go!
While Part One was publlished in serial form, scholars do not know if he ever completed the novel or published the entire thing. Sections found were edited and published in the 20th century.
source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Delany

Review Essay: Doing the Right Thing: An Essay Expressing Concern towards Tommie Shelby's Reading of Martin R. Delanymore
by Tommy J. Curry
In The Condition, Elevation, Emigration and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States (hereafter
The Condition), Delany conveyed his infamous message to the world—that Blacks were a “nation within a nation” depicting Blacks as these “classes of people who have been deprived of equal privileges, political, religious and social…and who have been looked upon as inferior by their oppressors.”
Immediately, the reader is grasped by Delany’s perception of the historical tenure of this caste oppression, in which he maintains, “there have in all ages, in almost every nation, existed a nation within a nation—a people who although forming part and parcel of the population, yet [who] were from force of circumstances known by the peculiar position they occupied, forming in fact,by the deprivation of political equality with others.”
Delany’s understanding of the conditions of Blacks in these terms was largely predicated on the previous knowledge of Black intellectuals during the Convention movement, which found that white claims of Black inferiority were “a matter of policy not nature.”
This was a common opinion during the mid-1800s that many Black theorists understood prior to the official denouncement of racial determinism by white scholars almost a century later. Delany understood that race as it was depicted in the United States as a matter of inferiority was socially constructed and rooted in the justification of white authority in a United States intended to be a white republic. What is most interesting about Delany’s spin on this knowledge, which was passed on to him from his predecessors, was that he understood that there was simply no “hope of redemption among those whooppress [Blacks].”
While this was certainly a major impetus in Delany’s justifications for pursuing emigration, Delany’s works reveal an independent analysis of an unchanging reality that contemporary theorists have yet to confront—namely, the fact that equality is impossible to achieve in the United States given that the legal and political concept of race was so deeply intertwined in its cultural geography.Delany believed moral suasion is useless on whites, and is absolutely impotent as a political strategy for equality. Only in the most philosophically abstract moments can one maintain that all things or, in Delany’s case, all people were created equal; but in society, “there is such a thing as the inferiority of things” insofar as the society has made it so. This understanding, which posits racial inferiority as an invention of  whites that sustains their interests, can only be termed racial realism.
Delany’s conviction in this position is incontrovertible during his authorship of The Condition and would influence his writings for years to come. In a letter to William Lloyd Garrison written May 14th of 1852, Delany says, “I have no hopes in this country—no confidence in the American people—with few excellent exceptions—therefore I have written as I have done.Heathenism and Liberty, before Christianity and Slavery.” “Thus between 1850 and 1852,” says Cyril Griffith, “Delany finally reached the conclusion that equality for black people in America was unattainable.”
This line of thinking propelled Delany’s reflections in “The Political Destiny of the Colored Race” in 1854 (hereafter The Political Destiny), where he transformed Black degradation from a policy distinction into an ontological distinction. In the United States, skin color marked a social category that conditioned the possibilities of one being fit for citizenship; but what Delany also realized, which holds true as much then as now, is that once Black degradation was legally determined beyond the opinions and beliefs of the public, it was inscribed by blood—in the presumption of difference by birth. Delany realized that the identities constructed by societies were more than thoughts or ignorant beliefs: they were social ontologies in which the corruption of blood is equated to the process by which a Black person is degraded and deprived of rights common to the enfranchised citizen.
If it is assumed that Blacks are inferior from birth, then it is understood that to be Black is to be inferior. Delany knew that these designations of inferiority in societies endure despite their socially constructed origins.So even in light of the fact that Black inferiority arises from a conflation between the social, legal, and political creations of  white interests that mistake the socially constructed reality fora natural reality, the assumed inferiority of Blackness persists because it is in the interests of those who created the myth of Black inferiority in order to benefit from its meaning and existence.
Delany writes:
"In the United States, among the whites, their color
is made, by law and custom the mark of distinction
and superiority, while the color of the blacks is a badge
of degradation, acknowledged by statute,organic law,
and the common consent of the people. With this view
of the case—which we hold to be correct—to elevate
to equality the degraded subject of law and custom, …can
only be done…by an entire destruction of the identity of the
former applicant. Even were this desirable, which we by no
 means admit ,(emphasis added) with the deep-seated prejudices
engendered by oppression, with which we have to contend,
ages incalculable might reasonably be expected to roll around
before this could honorably be accomplished."
Delany’s formulation of Black oppression in the United States has a special relevance for contemporary theories of race that rest on the difference between white myths of racial inferiority and Black utilizations of race. Race, when created by whites,is based on the corruption of blood—a corruption rooted in the political ideology of white supremacy—but taken as a fact of nature which presumes that Blacks are inferior to whites by birth. This reality that whites have made for themselves is not the only attitude that should or can inform African-descended peoples’ thinking on Blackness. Just as whites have created meanings to maintain and sustain their legacies of peoplehood,so too have Blacks in the contouring of racial identity. However,our understanding of this creative process rests in our ability to reconcile our emotive disdain for race and our unfounded assertions of a shared humanity. Racial identity, in being a socially constructed category, has a particular historical and cultural content, because race has been inextricably tied to a particular historical and cultural context which gives it meanings. Despite its socially constructed nature, race points to and permanently distinguishes specific groups of people.
 As a distinct racial class, or as Delany phrases it, “a nation within a nation,” our subordinate status is permanent. In Black thinkers’ inability to stomach this pessimistic rendering of Blackness in the United States, some have argued that we should abandon race thinking and the idea of a common racial identity altogether. This surrendering of Blackness, the dominant trend in race theory today, fails to attend to the way in which Blacks have used a common racial identity to resist white racism. In an effort to mark distinction and separate themselves from the anthropological inclinations of European“humanity,” Blacks have embraced their difference over their similarity with whites. This maintained difference of the Black“nation” within the United States is a crucial aspect of Delany’s thinking. Delany strongly maintains that Blacks should keep their racial identity and develop their race’s “native characteristics”for the betterment of their people.
He says,
"Our friends in this and other countries, anxious for
our elevation, have for years been erroneously urging
us to lose our identity as a distinct race, declaring we
were the same as other people; while at the very same
time their own representative was traversing the world,
and propagating the doctrine in favor of a universal
Anglo-Saxon predominance…The truth is, we are not
identical with the Anglo-Saxon or any other race of the
Caucasian or pure white type of the human family, and
the sooner we know and acknowledge this truth the better
for ourselves and posterity."

Delany’s last major work, Principia of Ethnology: The Origins of Race and Color (Hereafter Principia) was his most definitive articulation of race. According to Delany, race is God’s method. It is the key to God’s design for man to “scatter abroad upon the face of the whole earth and to multiply and replenish it.”
By making races, God marked men with a distinction that would “fix in the people a desire to be separated by reason of race affinity.”
This racial affinity was not simply a natural or essential designation, rather it was a process through which races—the historical groups of people—co-authored the world according to their own design. A reading of Delany’s Principia demonstrates Delany’s conviction in the racial and spiritual potentiality of Africa’s people. As is the case with most historic Black thinkers, this claim to civilization rests on retrieving the great civilizations of Ethiopia and Egypt. Delany was adamant that “the Negro people comprised the whole native population and ruling people of the upper and lower region of the Nile—Ethiopia and Egypt” and that the knowledge produced by these African people represented philosophical insights capable of only the highest of civilizations. “There is little doubt, for Delany,as to the Ethiopians having been the first people in propagating an advanced civilization in morals, religion, arts, science and literature—Egyptians of the same race being co-operative, and probably co-ordinate.”
 As a corroborating analysis, some contemporary Africanist historians have become very interested in Delany’s use of hieroglyphs, and have concluded that Delany’s attempt to reconstruct an African past is in line with his attempts to make the knowledge of Africa’s civilizations a present reality in America. According to historian Mario Beatty, Delany’s Principia is an Africanist response to the American school of Egyptology,one that “in refuting the arguments posited by Gliddon utilizing Egyptian hieroglyphs, provided an ancestral reference point for the humanity of African people that transcended the racial theories that posited the enduring inferiority of African people since antiquity.
According to Delany, races did not exist prior to the“dispersion,” because every human being was of the same complexion (color). Delany thought “Noah and his family were Adamites, himself and wife undoubtedly of the same color as that of their progenitors, Adam and Eve. And from the Garden of Eden to the Building of the Tower, there was but one race of people known as such, or no classification of different peoples.”
Separate “racial groups” did not come about until God commanded Noah’s three sons to inhabit different corners of the earth. Delany is quite clear on this point.
He argues it is:
"When by Divine command to go forth through the
earth, the separation took place, the people led by
the three sons of Noah, began a new progress in life,
as three distinct peoples, of entirely different interests,
aims, and ends. Shem remained in Asia; Ham went to
Africa, and Japheth journeyed to Europe, permanently
and forever severing their connexion with each other,
henceforth becoming different peoples and divided as
 though they never had been united. And then the different
Races of the Human Family had just begun."
Tolagbe Ogunleye, argues that Delany proposed to solve “intraracial ostracism, as well as other color-caste system complexities, by having sterling (pure African) men and women marry and couple with ‘mixed raced’men and women to revert back to a more homogeneous color and stock.” Delany whole-heartedly believed that “if what is implied by miscegenation could take place…then indeed, would the works of God be set at naught, his designs and purposes thwarted, and his wisdom confounded by the crafty schemes of poor, mortal, feeble man.
Delany is clear that mixed races are abnormal races, and that miscegenationcan never be a strategy for dealing with American racism. What Shelby does not tell the reader is that Delany did not believe that the three sterling races (Black, white, and yellow) could ever be destroyed. Since races were of divine origin, Delany believed that all “mixed races” would one day return to their sterling origins. I feel it necessary to present in length his complete view of miscegenation and race formation.On these aforementioned matters,
Delany says,
"that it may be indelibly fixed on every mind, we place
on record the fact, that the races as such, especially the
white and black are indestructible, that miscegenationas
popularly understood—the running out of two races,or
several into a new race—cannot take place. A cross only
produces one of a mixed race, and a continual cross from
a half blood on either side will run into the pure original race,
either white or black; the fourth cross on one side from the
half-blood perfecting a whole blood. A general intermarriage
of any two distinct races would eventually result simply in the
destruction, the extinction of the less numerous of the two;
that race which preponderates entirely absorbing the other…
The three original races in complexion and texture of hair are sterling…
If indeed it were true, that what is implied by miscegenation
could take place—the destruction of all or any of the three
original rules by the formation of anew race to take the place
of either or all, then indeed, would the works of God be set at
naught, his designs and purposes thwarted, and his wisdom
confounded by the crafty schemes of poor, mortal, feeble man.
Nay, verily, as long as earth endures, so long shall the original
races in their purity, as designed by God,the Creator of all things,
continue the three sterling races—yellow, black, and white—naming
them in the order given in Genesis of Shem, Ham and Japheth.
The sterling races when crossed can reproduce themselves into
their original purity, as before stated.The offspring of any two of
the sterling races becomes a mixed race. That mixed race is an
abnormal race.Either of the two sterling races which produced
the abnormal race may become the resolvent race.That is, when
the offspring of a mixed or abnormal race marries to a person of
a sterling race, black or white,their offspring is a quadroon; and if
that quadroon intermarries on the same side, and the intermarriage
so continues to the fourth cross on the same side, the offspring of
this fourth intermarriage is an octaroon (whether black or white),
and therefore becomes a pure blood. The race continuing the cross
 to its purity is the resolvent race, and each offspring of the cross till
the fourth is an abnormal race, when the fourth becomes sterling or
pure blooded. Hence to speak of a mixed race as being changed by
a resolvent process,simply means that the change is being made by
on race alone, which must result in normal purity of either black or
white, as the case may be."
source:http://www.academia.edu/2635837/Review_Essay_Doing_the_Right_Thing_An_Essay_Expressing_Concern_towards_Tommie_Shelbys_Reading_of_Martin_R._Delany

1 comment: