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Centennial: The American Negro from 1776-1876; Oration Delivered at Avondale, Ohio, 1876
                           [ 37 ]
What our ancestors have accomplished will not entitle us
to the regard of future generations.  The past can only
furnish us with inspiration for the future.

   "The crisis presses on us; face to face with us it stands,
     With solemn lips of question, like the sphinx in Egypt's sands!
     This day we fashion destiny, our web of fate we spin;
     This day for all hereafter choose we holiness or sin;
     Even now from starry Gerizim, or Ebal's cloudy crown,
     We call the dews of blessing or the bolts of cursing down!"

    What will the next century record concerning the ne-
gro? We know the past and the present, with their swift
tide of events and issues thundering in our ears. We know
the trials and heartaches of the past; we are conscious of
the duties and struggles of the present.  But what prophet
here to-day can divine the future and hold up to our vision
some auguries of good?  I may be considered rash in pre-
suming to predict that the next century in America will
produce in the negro race an orator, poet, and musician,
not at mediocrity, but artists of transcendent genius!
When the emotional element in the negro character shall
have been subdued and mellowed into rightful obedience
and legitimate service, by an education at once liberal,
broad, and thorough, he will be the man of the future!
    By faith and hope we look into the future; a propi-
tious future, inviting us to share its duties and enjoy its
honors.  Forgetting the flesh-pots of Egypt, and leaving
the superstitions incident to our bondage  beyond the
Red Sea of our miraculous deliverance, let us press forward
to the promised land. Let us move on with alacrity, while
over us is spread a bright sky, and a redolent atmosphere
about us, invigorating our lungs and making glad our
hearts.  We march into the future with joyful anticipation
of the immortal work that awaits us.  We bid the past an


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Centennial: The American Negro from 1776-1876; Oration Delivered at Avondale, Ohio, 1876



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