Transcript: 70. Tommy Curry on the Early 20th Century

We chat with Tommy Curry about African-American thought between the turn of the century and the Harlem Renaissance.

Note: this transcription was produced by automatic voice recognition software. It has been corrected by hand, but may still contain errors. We are very grateful to Tim Wittenborg for his production of the automated transcripts and for the efforts of a team of volunteer listeners who corrected the texts.

Peter Adamson: Many people think that African American philosophy in the 20th century actually only gets going in the 1920s or so, with the Harlem Renaissance. That's the first famous thing that happens in the 20th century, I guess. And so I wanted to start by asking you whether this is a mistake, really, that underrates the contributions of Black thinkers who are perhaps not so famous in the opening couple of decades of the 20th century.

Tommy Curry: Absolutely it's a mistake. I think there's a lot of different ways that that's a false statement. But even if you start from the kinds of delineations you're getting from someone like a Houston Baker concerning the role of modernism or form being expressed by Black authors and evaluating that as a criteria to which the Harlem Renaissance is demonstrating something new, I think that you have to really kind of contextualize what was preceding it. So you have all sorts of intellectual schools of thought like the Negro Society for Historical Research in 1912. You have the American Negro Academy. You have the Atlanta Sociological Laboratory in the late 1890s. And all these are think tanks where Black people are producing various political references, ideas about how the race is going to develop, and actual studies about the Black condition. So African American philosophy then starts in the Harlem Renaissance if you think that that philosophy has to demonstrate some ties to the Anglo world. But if you're looking for arguments about political economy, or whether or not poverty or free education is the best remedy for the Southern condition, then you're looking at someone like T. Thomas Fortune. If you're looking about the role that mathematics plays and understand disease progression, you're looking at the work of Kelly Miller. If you're thinking about how sociology is playing out and how children's narratives and developments of races happen, of course you have W. E. B. Du Bois. So all these thinkers preceded the Harlem Renaissance, even though many of them participated in it. And I think that one of the things that happens in the Harlem Renaissance is we have a Western standard of form and modernity and aesthetics and art play out in a way where Black people are taking that up to talk about their own representations, to talk about their own beliefs and progress of the future. And that overlooks kind of the political conditions of that, right? So when you're looking at the Harlem Renaissance, ask yourself why art? Some authors argue that the reason that Black people start taking up art is because the political and social rights for advancement and race progress were shut off to them. So the idea of presenting a civilized notion of the Negro, a new Negro, so to speak, in Alain Locke's terms, offered the best way for the West to actually take up the cause of art and fight against Black inferiority. Outside of that, though, you have people who adamantly disagree with that. So someone like a John Edward Bruce, for instance, or Arturo Schomburg, very much believed that Black people can refute the notions of racial inferiority through hard science, through history, through the study and documenting of events and civilizations throughout Africa and the rest of the Black diaspora. This is a very similar idea that someone like Carter G. Woodson had around the early turn of the 20th century, because he believed that not only do we need something like Negro History Week to document the brilliance and historical or exemplary Negro mind, right, that represented Black people for the race, but he also thought that we can actually understand how Black people are being taught to think of themselves as inferior, how learning white civilization and learning the ideas that Black people did not have a history, did not have a civilization conditioned us to accept white supremacy. So if we don't see those kinds of treatises like the Mis-Education of the Negro, or his later book, The Appeal to the Negro, as African American philosophy, then it suggests that we're utilizing a standard of American modernism, right, this idea of form that we see with T. S. Eliot and other groups and people that's talking about the progress of race and futurity as being the standard by which Black philosophy actually emerges, right. And I think that's a horrible, horrible mistake.

Peter Adamson: Because it basically suppresses this tradition of what we might think of as more empirical research.

Tommy Curry: Yes, empirical research and also kind of the folklore and tales of the Negro, right. I mean, because you have to remember that people like Hurston, Countee Cullen, etc., even though these are figures in the Harlem Renaissance, they were also participating in societies and groupings, intellectual circles around the Negro Society, historical research, and they were all writing for the Negro World, which was Garvey's magazine. So it's not as clean-cut as if you had Black intellectuals who participated in the Harlem Renaissance, and they all bought into one sort of idea. You had lots of Black intellectuals that were figures of the Harlem Renaissance like Claude McKay, but also had activists with Caribbean roots that also were in line with Garveyism because Ferris is writing for Garvey as well, right. All these are fluid and movable spheres of influence and intellectual thought that culminate in various political ways and intellectual traditions.

Peter Adamson: One thing that strikes me about this topic we're discussing is that a lot of the figures who are relevant would have come of age around the 1890s or the turn of the century. And that means that we're now dealing with a generation of intellectuals and scholars who were not born into slavery, or at least would have been so young when slavery ended that they have no memory of it or almost no memory of it. And I'm wondering how that changes their intellectual posture as contrasted to – an obvious case would be someone like Frederick Douglass, but more generally, people who at least spent their childhood under slavery.

Tommy Curry: Yeah, I think it makes a big difference. What I would say about that, though, is twofold. One, I think that when you read authors who were born into slavery, and let's use Frederick Douglass as an example, lots of people focus on the Autobiography of Frederick Douglass because he's given an account of his life and narrative under enslavement. But I think they really do forget how married Douglass was to understanding not only natural science but natural law. So in 1854, one of the very first treatises that Douglass delivers in front of wide audiences is called his Ethnological Address on the Status of Man. Questioning whether or not the Negro was a man and saying that because the Negro is – I mean, it's a beautiful short piece, but it situates the Negroes as a human being. It says that, look, when the Negro walks into a field of other animals, the animals address him or her as master, not as one of their own kind. So the idea that Black people are animals seems to be refuted by the very observations we have on nature. And that's so important because the people who are writing from the perspective of slavery are trying to refute the ethnological cases that are being made for enslavement. So the ethnology or the ethnological status or science at the time made two primary arguments. If you're talking about the 1831 variants of ethnology, the ideal is that the Bible cursed, after the Diluvian Epoch, after the Great Flood, you had a curse. And the people who were sent to Africa was the dark race. And the other races who were white and red, they split up. So the curse of Ham is what created the Black race. And that's what doomed them to enslavement and inferiority. After you get Darwinism, you get the idea that Black people devolved, so to speak, or they were not allowed to evolve the same way as the other races, so that they were inferior line of the family tree. So Black people coming out of slavery are refuting these two ideas in their writings and in their works to show that, look, the notion of freedom, the idea of being equal is something that God intends, that God wants. It's a function of natural law and natural order. The people born after slavery are really interesting because they have different articulations of what they see freedom as. So they're often more radical. They read the Haitian Revolution differently, not as a refutation of whether or not Black should be free, but rather how we should be self-determined. So when you're looking at the early 20th century, let's be very concrete. Look at people like William H. Ferris, look at Charles Victor Roman, look at, of course, Du Bois writing during this period of time. The kinds of intellectuals that are doing this work, T. Thomas Fortune is a great example, are interested in social reform so that Black people remove themselves from the conditions of wretchedness. How do we engineer and change society so that we can mirror and determine ourselves for ourselves? And that's a different perspective than the kinds of ethnological arguments that you're getting coming out of the 19th century. The 20th century is more interested in what is it that the Negro is and what does the Negro want? These are the questions. It's an aspirational philosophy because you have different classes of education, you have different classes of political activism, and there's largely a stress on knowledge and economics, these two things fighting, of course, back and forth as to which one will ultimately drive the history and the political future of the Negro. The 20th century then situates us in a world that really does serve as the bedrock of how we think of our intellectual histories today. So when you think of, well, why are Black people arguing about identity? Well, these are partly debates that are coming about after you escape from the ethnological age where identity is fundamentally tied to racial origin or family or heredity. So in the 20th century, where you're getting certain kinds of class mobilization, you're getting distinctions of the Negroes growing, people are interested in where you fit in that kind of hierarchy. So you get different explosions of what does it mean to be a Negro? What does it mean to be middle class? What does it mean to be educated? These are the questions that emerge. And you see this come all the way to the mid 20th century, of course, with the development of Black Studies, Africana Studies, asking questions about the role that capitalism or racial capitalism play to the future of working-class Black people versus educated or bourgeois Blacks. The 20th century sees a fundamental explosion in the kinds of questions that Black people ask given that they fit within certain hierarchies throughout society. Whereas the 19th century, you're dealing with a very flat racial caste system, where people are trying at the very root of it to refute the ideas that there's a divination or providence in this subservience enslavement of the Negro.

Peter Adamson: Wow, okay. It's an amazing picture you just drew there. It's like there's a transition from demanding freedom to demanding real freedom or to demanding equality or something like that.

Tommy Curry: Yes, because they're different possibilities.

Peter Adamson: Yeah. So among the many things you just mentioned there, I just want to pick up on one, which is education. And I've also mentioned the name of W. E. B. Du Bois a couple of times. And that brings us inevitably to a topic we've talked about a lot in the last few episodes, which has been the differences or debate between Du Bois and Booker T. Washington. And I have to ask you what you think of that. So what do you think of it?

Tommy Curry: I honestly think that most people get it wrong. I think the traditions that we inherit from Du Bois with a focus on education becomes largely the basis by which Black academics justify their role within Black history and Black political activism. But I think when you're reading all of Booker T. Washington's books, not just Up from Slavery, it becomes a very hard distinction to maintain. So much of the debates that are concerning Booker T. Washington and Du Bois incorrectly focus only on Washington's Up from Slavery and his Atlanta Exposition or his Atlanta Address. And Du Bois comes into that conversation because whereas Du Bois says that we have a need for classical liberal arts training to develop the mind, Booker T. Washington is depicted as someone who's interested merely in reproducing manual labor and educating people in agriculture, etc., not cultivating the mind. And this is not really a fair distinction. So Booker T. Washington actually wrote a book called Working with the Hands where he discusses the moral worth of the worker and problematizes the kinds of distinctions that were inherited to Black people from white people. So one of the things that Booker T. Washington does in that book, he says, well, look, after slavery was over, white people associated hard work and toiling in the fields with slavery and education of the mind as a basis of freedom, right? So he said Black people didn't determine that, white people did, and we inherited that. And that then became the basis of how we're having debates between Negroes about what's the best way for us to get free. We have no institutions, no economics that could even fund, endorse, or sustain the kinds of liberal arts research that we want to have. Remember part of Du Bois's soliloquy is he says, look, I met Booker T. Washington basically because I came to him for a job. And he got another offer, but he was going to take the job at Hampton if he didn't sign, I think, with Atlanta. So we have to be very careful with how we're interpreting this. The other thing about Booker T. Washington is that it assumes that he's anti-intellectual because he's interested in toiling. But he also in the 1920s wrote a book called The Man Farthest Down, where he actually went to Europe and started doing comparative studies between European peoples to America. And what he was showing there was that the poverty and the political status of the Negro wasn't due to race, but rather to economics and to the social stigmas of the society. So here arise very similar conclusions that you're going to get from Du Bois' work in the Atlanta Sociological Laboratory around the same time, actually. But because we framed Du Bois and Booker T. Washington as opposites on the issue of manual labor and political, agricultural, and mechanical education versus liberal arts and classical intellectual training, we miss some of the nuances and we miss the long lineage by which Booker T. Washington is actually coming to many of the same conclusions that Du Bois is. And what I think ultimately happens in these kinds of debates is that we get people that again politicize the issue rather than carefully comparing the issue. Washington's argument is very simple. Racism in America is permanent because now that we don't have Black people that could be used for slave labor, there's a question of how the Negro should be compensated. There's going to be a gap in labor. He wants to fill that. He thinks Black people can fill that. So he wants apprenticeships. He wants people to work with their hands to build an economic base. That is often depicted as he was against liberal arts education. That's not necessarily true. Remember, he sends his children to Europe to be educated. So he certainly didn't believe that all the way around. But as a political strategy in America, he certainly endorsed economics over other forms of education. Du Bois, however, ends up coming back to a very interesting point. We often read Du Bois in this sense saying, oh, we need liberal arts education because we're reading him right after he gets out of Harvard, after he comes back from Berlin. He has a certain faith in that. But let's remember what he says in the soliloquy and the works in the rest of his life. He says it's all about economics, specifically how economics is broken down within colonies so that Black people become poor and wretched and also the labor for people in the first-world countries. So if we read Du Bois from the end of his life, compared to what Washington is doing, we see a much, much closer agreement to how the role of poverty, economics, and capitalism operate in sustaining the subservient position of Black people. And another point about this is despite the question of education being largely agriculture/mechanical versus classical liberal arts training, they both agree about the permanence of racism. When Du Bois is disagreeing with Washington, he's disagreeing on the basis that he thinks that racism can be solved if we understand the higher goods of the racist contributions, the gifts of the Negroes, of Black folk, so to speak, and whether or not we can communicate and kind of wash away or challenge the ignorance of white Americans in how they treat the Negro. Washington disagrees with this issue. Washington believes that white people are fundamentally racist and the way that they treat Black people is going to be dependent on their market value and use. So he says create markets and a value that white people can't dispose of and rely on and that creates the basis by which Black people have a path towards equality. Now because people usually read them from the Atlanta Exposition or Address, what ends up happening is, well, they're like, oh, well, he's being subservient. But we have to understand that that was a rhetorical and political address, because at the same time that Booker T. Washington was saying that, he was actually funding T. Thomas Fortune's organization that was based in agitation, the Afro-American League.

Peter Adamson: It doesn't get much less subservient than T. Thomas Fortune.

Tommy Curry: Exactly, exactly. So he's funding these radicals, right, and Ida B. Wells, actually, is the secretary of the Afro-American League. So again, what I'm trying to emphasize is these really deep intellectual and political connections and networks that we see, where Black people are operating in different spheres. Because if you go off of Up from Slavery and the Atlanta speech, then what you're going to get is, well, Booker T. Washington didn't really understand race. He was, you know, subservient to white people's interests. But when you look at what he was funding, look at the lawsuits he's funding, look at the organs and the periodicals that he's funding, then he was creating a machine. We have to be very clear, as much as we may have sided with Du Bois about his attitudes, it's Washington's institutions, Tuskegee, Hampton, that still stand today, not Du Bois. So we really have to be careful on what we see as the benefit of justifying our own Black intellectual or, dare I say, bourgeois sensibilities about education versus what was actually accomplished during their lifetimes.

Peter Adamson: One thing about Booker T. that I find interesting is that he simultaneously accepts the permanence and inevitability of racism, as you said, and also has a positive strategy for racial uplift that doesn't involve going to Africa. So he says that's ridiculous. It's a fantasy. And I think that in general, maybe there's a shift away from thinking all the time about emigrationism in the 19th century, to other ways of thinking about Africa, among the intellectuals of the generation we're talking about. So I was wondering if you could say something about that. So do we see a range of new ways of thinking about Africa, as opposed to this focus on shall we all go back to the fatherland, so to speak?

Tommy Curry: I wanted to follow up on something that you said about Washington that was so interesting. There's this moment in his book on hands where he makes a comparison of his mother. And he says, you know, one day we were starving, and our mother stole eggs. And he asked this question of whether or not his mother was a thief. So in Working with Hands, he's asked, this ethical question frames how he understands the notion of work. And he said, I never thought of my mother as a thief because she was not a free person. Now, this is a very philosophical and ethical conversation, framing Working with Hands. But we don't think of them in that way. And a reason I think that it's so important to make that connection is that Washington understands very clearly there are different rules for Black people. And the ways that we behave under poverty and under deprivation cannot be morally assessed the same way as the white world, right? And that is a very important starting point for how we think about the Negro and the connections that 19th-century and 20th-century Black people had with the world and ultimately with Africa. So when you're talking about Africa in the early 20th century, emigration doesn't fade away. Most of the emigrationists are late 19th-century figures because in the 20th century, you not only have this appeal of, again, looking to Africa for intellectual and cultural resources. So when you look at like John Edward Bruce's work, Carter G. Woodson's work, Arturo Schomburg, William H. Ferris, if you look at any historian that's writing the first decade or two of the 20th century, you're going to find some form of Egyptology. You're going to find some essay, some chapter that they're writing about African civilization. And why do they do that? Well, they do that as a starting point for how they think that the Black race carries within it the seeds of self-determination and civilization. Again, because the 20th century was interested with where do Black people fit within the larger schemes of not only the United States society, but the world, there was a renewed focus on what have Black people produced. So all these historical societies that we see, even what we call the Schomburg today, starts off with this idea of reclaiming the facts of Black civilization to justify the idea of Black reason and rationality. So Africa becomes a symbol of that in one sense. I really like Ferris's Egyptology because he gives a very rich notion of how the ideal and how different civilizations contributed to what was African civilization and how that was inherited by the Negro in America. On the other hand, you have someone like Garvey, who very much wants to still develop Africa, that wants to have a Black capitalist model. He wants to have a Black world. And Africa in that sense becomes a resource. So you even have people like the brother from Barbados, Alfred Thorne, who was suggesting that we could take Black people in the Caribbean and use them to infuse and jump-start Africa's economy. And this is happening in the 19-teens, between 1910 and 1920. He was a major influence on Garvey. But the emigrationism that we see coming from the 20th-century thinkers are not simply about retreating to Africa because they're trying to escape America. It's about building a Black world. Whereas with Delany and the other emigrationists, they’re talking about retreating to Africa because America's too hostile, we'll never be full citizens. And again, this is where I say there are more class resources and a different view about creating the world in the 20th century that I think you have compared to 19th-century thinkers. But at the same time, you have intellectuals writing in Africa too, where they're interacting with the American Negro Academy, the Negro Society of Historical Research. They're interacting with Du Bois' Sociological Laboratories. You're getting thinkers from all over the world trying to reconfigure the very notions of race. So Africa in that sense becomes both a bedrock for the history of Black civilization and the possibility for the economic and political future of the Black race all across the world. Because once you're free from the idea that race absolutely means depravity or being of an inferior status, you now have the possibility to create. And that's why Garvey, for instance, was so interested in capitalist development. How do you jump-start economies? How do you jump-start Black innovation and Black businesses? And you saw this in all the articles that the Negro World was running around the Black Star Line.

Peter Adamson: One figure who I think is really central to what you just described, and who's also been central to your own work, is William Ferris. He's a member of the American Negro Academy and writes a book that touches on many of the themes you just mentioned called The African Abroad. And what an interesting feature of this book that really struck me when I read it is that he has a whole kind of theory of history. Which seems to be a more explicitly philosophical account of how history develops than we've seen in other earlier authors who, as you say, maybe refer back to ancient Egypt or other aspects of long-ago African culture as kind of touchstones for racial identity. So could you say something about Ferris's view of history?

Tommy Curry: Oh, absolutely. So Ferris is one of the Black idealists at the birth of the 20th century, given where he's writing. It's so funny because you have someone like Houston Stewart Chamberlain writing the Foundations on ethnology of races in 1900, kind of documenting the train of races, what are racial futures. And he's saying, look, the history of civilization is gifted to the Teutonic people. Chamberlain was a friend of, basically, Hitler. So his book, his view – this is what's so fascinating about this. The context that Ferris is writing in takes place in a world where Josiah Royce is arguing that it's the Anglo-Saxon kind of germ, so to speak – and I mean, germ in the 19th-century variant – it's the kind of Keim or seed of the Anglo-Saxon that is destined to rule the world. And you have someone like Chamberlain said, no, it's actually the German, the Teutonic, that has the best notion of loyalty and unity that will develop the world. And here you have William H. Ferris that says, well, you know you're both wrong. It's actually the Black American. And Ferris gets there by combining a lot of different ethnological thinking and 20th-century science. So the idea of assimilation in the 19th century was that assimilation is the ability of plastic or inferior races to be impressed upon and contoured by dominant races. So the white race would be a dominant race. And someone like the Negro race or indigenous people would be plastic. Well, the indigenous people would be rigid because they were exterminated, but the Japanese would be plastic. And what they meant by that is the force that the imposing group puts on the inferior race changes them. It molds them, so that they can take in the civilization of the dominant culture. But for that, it was always an oppressive and unidirectional move. So people like Royce were saying, look, basically these Asians come here. If they don't take our culture, they become extinct and die. People like Chamberlain said, well, there's not really a need for assimilation because we just conquered people and replaced them with our own people. So what Ferris did is he said, look, history operates in a few different ways. Of course, we know that there are physical laws, and he thinks that these are things like civilization, government, etc. He thinks that God uses those laws to kind of direct history. But that's not the most interesting part. That's just kind of a Hegelian kind of model. But what's fascinating about him, he says, well, let's take a closer look at the processes of history and sociology. When we look at assimilation, does assimilation in fact mean that the dominant culture subsumes or crushes inferior culture? He says, well, the answer to that is no. How is that the case? How is it the case in the 19th century that you don't believe that assimilations work this way? He's like, oh, because you thought your culture was your own. You thought Europe was actually developing something new. You inherited Persian culture and African culture, Mediterranean culture. And because those people died out, you inherited it, and you didn't know that you, too, are imitative. So back in the 19th century, the idea was that you had reflective cultures and cultures that could only imitate. And the argument is that the Negro imitates because it sees the dominant culture and it could only parrot or monkey see, monkey do what white people do, whereas the white culture is reflective and it could pick and choose what lessons of civilization it wanted. But Ferris says, no, this is an artificial distinction because every culture imitates. That's how you actually transfer the culture of ancient Egypt to the culture of Britain. You took what you thought was useful from civilization and you put it back into history, now this is the civilization. This process goes on and on and on. So what Ferris ends up saying is, well, this is how history moves. History is then the development of civilization that comes about, and the laws of civilization. You have different groups of people through history that interact with those laws and they pick and choose them. And then when they can make them better, the old civilization dies and you have a new growth. And this was why Ferris, and this is the part I love about this, why he's a nationalist. Ferris said, the problem is the Anglo-Saxon is too brutish. The Anglo-Saxon has developed notions of individuality and capitalism, but his lack of spirituality and temperament is going to destroy the world. So in order for us to fix the world, we need the Negro, specifically the Negro-Saxon. Now notice, while he thinks that the Negro from Africa is inferior and brutish, he nonetheless believes that the brutes are spiritual, and that's the racial characteristic. That's the gift that the Negro carries with them. And when you take that gift of the African and put it into the milieu of America, the Anglo-Saxons of America, and they mix, then it's the spirituality that contours the way that the gifts and the laws of civilization like individualism and economics and knowledge and philosophy get to be translated. So the idea then is that the Black person, the Negro, comes to America to take from the European what they've innovated in terms of knowledge but gotten wrong in terms of morality and ethics. So ultimately his view was, well, while African Negroes won't save the world, and Anglo-Saxons will doom the world, it is the Negro-Saxon, the African that's been transported to America, that has learned the best of both worlds and will ultimately save the world. And this is a fascinating view of history, because he's saying that in a world where Europeans are arguing about who should get what chunk of the world, like Josiah Royce is doing with Anglo-Saxonism, Houston Stewart Chamberlain is doing with Germany, the real issue is neither one of them have the spirituality or the soul necessary to give back to the world humanity. And it's only the Negro-Saxon who's gone through slavery, who's seen discrimination, who deals with the race problem, that has the foresight not to create this for the next civilizations of people that will come after. So Ferris's view of history is very dialectical. It's very sociological and contextual. But most of all, it's fascinating, because it's the first evidence we have of a Black thinker that's utilizing assimilationism as a dialectical process by which Negro people develop it and then create a different view of humanity that doesn't depend on the universals established by the previous epoch. And that's absolutely fascinating.

Peter Adamson: It's a lot more subtle than Black people were brought from Africa, learned English and Christianity and can now go back to Africa with civilization, get off in the 19th century. Yeah.

Tommy Curry: So Ferris has a tribute in the American Negro Academy papers to Alexander Crummell. Right? I knew exactly what you're talking about, but yes, he does not agree with Crummell in that way.

Peter Adamson: No. Actually, I was going to ask you about the contrast you drew there and that Ferris draws between reflective and imitative, because it's not only that there are reflective cultures and imitative cultures. He also says that there are reflective and imitative individuals in, let's say, Black America or within cultures. And I was wondering what we should make of that. I mean, is the idea that the reflective individuals among African Americans are just like, is that just his name for Du Bois's Talented Tenth? Or is there something more complicated going on there?

Tommy Curry: The reflective for him are going to be the people who are not doing the physical toll. So if you compare what he's saying about reflexivity, being reflective as a quality versus someone like Kelly Miller, they're going to disagree, because Kelly Miller is going to believe that the people who are fit for philosophical reflection, which is exactly what Ferris means by this, are going to be people that are able to be taught it. Whereas Ferris thinks that it's not only people that are taught it, but there's this natural curiosity about the world, so to speak, this question of why, this positing of God. He thinks that it's that nature of people that creates the basis for you to be reflective. He thinks it's a character trait, not an educational or learned trait. Ferris, because of the way he thinks of the dialectic, believes that reflective individuals should be the ones to lead the race. So he very much has kind of a philosopher-king complex. I don't know if it's the same as the Talented Tenth, because the Talented Tenth, while an idea of who would be best served as the representatives and the models of the race, Ferris thinks that that's changing based on where we actually evolve. So for him, you would have a Talented Tenth class, but that talented class would build up a bigger class of people, and then it wouldn't just be the Talented Tenth, because the race will constantly evolve to greater, greater numbers and greater, greater heights until they actually define the rules or laws of civilization. So it's because he thinks it as an evolutionary term, it doesn't have the same political implication that you would have for someone like a Du Bois. 


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