between 1890 and 1910 upwards of 4200 blacks were lynched. That computes to a black lynching every forty-one hours for twenty years!
Our visitor reminded us that those fifty or so educated men and women could have remained in the North or migrated to Canada or Europe and enjoyed relatively comfortable lives. They chose instead to look into their conscience, their religion, and into the future. They knew that without skills and organization, all that the ancestors had endured would have been for naught and chattel slavery would have been replaced with economic and political slavery.
He ended his talk with the daunting question raised in Genesis 4:9, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” He said that those few educated Black men and women in the 19th Century nobly answered that question and he urged all of us to contemplate it every day of our lives.
That visitor’s speech resonates today with even greater urgency especially among the statistics about black males and it suggests that: We must either keep our brother or he will assuredly keep us. He will keep us in debt, e.g., state correctional system budgets run into billions of dollars with California topping them all at $10,000,000,000! He will keep us in fear (many homes in our communities look like jails, with their locks and bars). He has already driven too many Americans to believe that we can imprison our way out of the problem even if it renders African Americans an ethnic group without functional males between fifteen and forty. Lest we think this is a problem afflicting only the black “underclass,” we need only observe the growing male/female imbalance in college, graduate and professional schools.
Could this portend a single-gendered black middle class in our future?
The following quotation that I first heard many years ago in Sunday School almost leaps out at me:
“As I approached the mountain I thought I perceived a monster, but as I came closer I saw that it was not a monster but a man, and as I came even closer, I saw that he was my brother.”
“I sought my friend and my friend forsook me.
I sought my God and my God eluded me.
I sought my brother and found all three!”
David L. Evans is a native of Phillips County, Ark., and holds degrees in electrical engineering from Tennessee State University and Princeton. Before coming to Harvard he worked in Huntsville, Ala., on the Saturn/Apollo Project that landed a man on the moon in 1969. While in Huntsville he began a voluntary, one-man college recruiting and placement effort for African-American youth, who were admitted to many of the nation’s top colleges. His work was covered by the news media, and he was offered jobs by the College Entrance Examination Board, Harvard College, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was most impressed by Harvard College and its dean of admissions, Chase N. Peterson ’52, and came to work in the Admissions Office in 1970 on a two-year leave-of-absence from engineering.
During his time in Cambridge, over