Separatism and Integration

Dec. 8, 1874

Writing to Nathanel T. Allen,  who has written to him, Garrison expresses his view which is relevant to choices for separate schools or integrated schools.  Allen has posed this question to Garrison:  “Of course, we must expect that the colored like other people will have their own social circles; but is it not their duty to endeavor to mingle in our schools and churches with whites?  Is it not best for them and their children, on the whole?   Garrison responds:  “These questions I answer strongly in the affirmative. To this end, with the emancipation and enfranchisement of the millions once held in the Southern house of bondage, I have raised my voice and exerted what influence I could for the last forty-five years, and I am now too old and too firmly settled in conviction to take any step backward.  The case is a very plain one.  Whenever or wherever colored persons are excluded by law or usage from those rights and privileges which are enjoyed by all  other classes, — whether relating to religious worship, secular education, or anything else — the only alternative left to them is to act together ‘on the single basis of color’, it being not a case of self-exclusion, but a necessity arising from an inexorable proscription.  But when or where no such exclusion is enforced, and a disposition is shown to treat them with fairness and respect, then for them to withdraw from a common fellowship and erect complexional barriers, is to establish a precedent which logically ends in endorsing the old pro-slavery doctrine, that there should be no fraternization between the two races on account of color.”     1

1 Letters of William Lloyd Garrison – Volumes I – VI