Saturday, June 23, 2012

This Week in Texas Methodist History  June 24

Trinity MEC  Houston Hosts State Teacher’s Convention June 27, 1899

As the system of racial segregation known as Jim Crow strengthened its malignant grip on Texas and the rest of the South in the 1890’s, Methodist churches stepped up to provide not just spiritual, but also institutional support for African American Texans. 

One such example of that support was Trinity MEC in Houston providing its facilities for the state convention of the state African American teacher’s organization. 
The opening session of the convention on Thursday, June 27, at 10:30 a.m. demonstrated a blending of church and school themes.  W. R. Taylor of Dallas was seated at the church organ.  He led the convention in singing, Blessed Assurance.  President I. M. Burgan of Paul Quinn College gave an opening prayer which was followed by a welcoming address and by Revive Us Again. Let the Sun Shine In, and America

President N. W. Harllee’s  opening address blended the concern of the association for international, national, and local issues.  The acquisition of territories as a result of the recent war with Spain had created a debate over the appropriate education of various ethnic groups.  In 1899 there was a vigorous debate over the future status of Filipinos, Cubans, and Puerto Ricans in an “American System.”  Since African Americans had long experience of second class citizenship and second class education based on their race, the association was particularly interested in the schools the U. S. intended to set up in the territories.  One of President Harllee’s statements resonates with modern readers who have seen American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan

The Spanish-American War , which was brought to a successful end, has added new duties, a broader field for the educator, a vista for commerce, a realm for the statesman and a burden for the nation at large.  New history, new geography, new boundary lines have come to the Americas by the logic of the sword and with these must come broader views and enlightened thought; for the invasion of ideas is more powerful than the invasion of an army.. . . the conquest of the sword was easy; but the conquest of right, the conquest of justice, the conquest of enlightened thoughts and ideas, and the conquest of broad education . . .tax the considerate judgment of the American people. (emphasis added)

President Harllee’s address then turned to specific items of interest to teachers.  He called equal state support for all schools, adequate funding for Prairie View Industrial College (today’s Prairie View A&M University), and full support for summer institutes for teachers.  Such summer institutes were particularly important in an era when many teachers, both African American and white, did not have college degrees.  Summer institutes, or “normals”, provided training and professional development for teachers who could not afford full time college work.

The presidential address concluded by evoking the importance of the home.  It is through the homes, the schools, and the churches that we are to reach the children of the nation
Home, school, church---President Harllee had named the three institutions that were to sustain African Americans through the decades of Jim Crow that still lay ahead of them.  


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sent the link to your blog to Callie Wright, great granddaughter of Cal C. Wright, NWTX Conf. pastor. She is interested in camp meetings and circuit riding pastors. I think that she is attending a Camp Meeting sometime soon.
Beryl Waddell

1:27 PM  

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