26 AFRO-AMERICAN ENCYCLOPAEDIA.
day of emancipation. While most of them imperfectly apprehended
the meaning of a religion which meant character and conduct, yet
nearly all had absorbed a sense of the government of God, which
was strong and in some ways controlling. All this was progress in
condition over the estate of their African ancestors ; a great gain
over naked barbarism. This wTas not the purpose of man, but it
was in the providence of < rod.
When Christian faith and love said this redeemed people must now
be educated and helped into wortly Christian manhood and woman¬
hood, this was another step in the movement of divine providence.
When the race history began, it began at zero. Four millions of
people had existed, but as yet there could be no history. That there
ma}r be history, there must be legal marriage, family name, con¬
tinuity of family life, and possession of property. The Negro had
none of these.
A score and a half years have passed and the Negroes number
seven millions of people. Two millions have learned to read.
Many have pushed on beyond elementary education, and a small
percentage have made attainments which are prophetic of power
and position for the race in the times to come.
While it is true that those who cannot read to-day are in excess of
the original four millions when they were set free, and that the
Negro left to himself has even degenerated from, the Negro of
slavery, it is also true that a single generation has witnessed in the
life of hundreds of thousands a wonderful evolution in manhood
and womanhood. The growth of the race in honorable self-hood has
been for such, like the story of Narcissus in the myths of the
ancients. Narcissus, you remember, had fallen from the knowledge
of his high birthright as a descendant of the gods, and was living-
low down unmindful of his high origin. But one day at the water
side for the first time he saw his own image reflected back to him as
from a mirror. It was not a clear vision, but to him it was a revela¬
tion. He saw that he was not like the brutes. He felt that he
ought to be more than he was. His thoughts within him were
stirred. The sense of his high origin and birthright slowly came to
him. One thought quickened another, and he found himself risim>-
to his thought until he felt the fire of his divinity. He grew in his
purpose toward that which he held in his mind. He cast aside what
was low, and he resolutely left all that pulled him down. Thus
leaving the things that were behind, lie pressed forward, and so