The Religious Department

The Religious Department. The New Orleans Tribune.
The Religious Department. The New Orleans Tribune.

The “Religious Department” was a regular front page feature of the New Orleans Tribune, America’s first Black daily. Reverend Dove (St. James Chapel A.M.E Church) and Reverend McCary (Urquhart Street A.M.E. Church) believed “a religious and political union of our people is essential to our present and future welfare.” The column was typically followed by “Religious Intelligence” which listed “Devine services of all colored churches.”

Powerful Black Solidarity

 

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 February 10, 1865. America’s first Black daily called out those “who deliver themselves up to the white interest for the sake of favor or money.” From the jump, the New Orleans Tribune organized for unrestricted Black male suffrage: “We do not want anything for the few; we claim a broad right for all.” 151 years ago, the Tribune and a large majority of those organizing with the newly formed Equal Rights League rejected “memorialists” who favored limited suffrage for the old caste of free men of color. The men of the Tribune were an elite group and easily could have pursued self-preservation through accommodation. Instead, they sought to build true racial democracy on the ashes of white supremacy. Instilled with revolutionary fervor, they embraced their Blackness and fostered unity with the emancipated. Powerful racial solidarity resulted in the first Black electorate two years later. ‪#TDIH #‎BlackHistory‬ ‪#‎BlackHistoryMatters‬ ‪#‎BlackHistory365‬ ‪#‎NOLA‬ ‪#‎CivilRights‬

 

We Are Seeking to Throw Off a Tremendous Load

"Timely Warning to Union Men. The New Orleans Convention or Massacre: Which is the More Illegal." Harper's Weekly, September 8, 1866. Image collection of Mark C. Roudané
“Timely Warning to Union Men. The New Orleans Convention or Massacre: Which is the More Illegal.” Harper’s Weekly, September 8, 1866. Image collection of Mark C. Roudané

#‎TDIH. America’s first Black daily, February 4, 1869: “We are not in the condition of professional reformers who from a comfortable distance look off upon the evils of society and descant in splendid rhetoric upon equality and fraternity and the rights of colored men. We plead for equality not as philosophers (who) in their closet write beautiful essays about abstract principles. WE ARE SEEKING TO THROW OFF A TREMENDOUS LOAD WHICH HAS BEEN OUR INHERITANCE FOR CENTURIES. With us it is a reality and no abstraction.”

Black, proud, and free, the Tribune crusaders risked their lives to publish a journal like no other. For the first time, New Orleanians of African descent openly spoke against their oppressors. They faced some of the nation’s worst violence, yet remained steadfast in the fight.

Integrated Public Education

150 years ago. January 30, 1866. ALL CHILDREN WILL SIT TOGETHER! Almost 100 years before 4 brave six-year-old girls–Tessie Prevost, Gail Etienne, Leona Tate, and Ruby Bridges–desegregated the New Orleans Public Schools, the New Orleans Tribune wrote: “We hold that the question of the schools will only be settled when all children, without discrimination on account of race or color, will be admitted to sit together on the same benches and receive from the same teachers the light of knowledge. At that time there will be one set of schools and all the energies of the State, all the talent of the teachers, will be directed to one end and one aim–the promotion of public education for the greatest good of all.” The Tribune campaigned tirelessly for the right to public education for all children. That dream became a reality after the 1868 Louisiana constitution allowed for school integration.

 Fillmore School, New Orleans
Fillmore School, New Orleans

Right to Self-Defense

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151 years before Tamir, Jamar, Sandra, Freddie, Eric, Michael, Trayvon. On December 30, 1864, America’s first Black daily denounced police brutality. “THE COLORED MEN, ATTACKED WITHOUT ANY EXCUSE WHATEVER, ARE NATURALLY PROMPTED TO DEFEND THEMSELVES. PERSONAL DEFENSE IS NOT ONLY A RIGHT, BUT A DUTY.” The December 30, 1864 editorial observed “The city keeps a respectable number of policemen who frequently take the part of the white party without any consideration of right and justice. Is it for the purpose of oppressing that the city keeps a large force? Is it by arresting and molesting the innocent party, in joining in unlawful and unprovoked assaults that the force is to be used? Even colored soldiers are not free from molestation.” #‎BlackHistoryMatters. #‎BlackHistory. ‪#‎CivilRights