An Appeal to Black Americans

Americans of African Descent
Greetings:--

    In a world seething with bigotry, racial and religious hatreds, it becomes my duty as President General of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, to direct your attention to a most serious mistake being made by Americans of African descent in the United States.

OUR DUTY TO TAKE THE INITIATIVE
    The American African constitutes the most advanced large mass of Africans in the world.  We more than any other large group of Africans have had the advantage of living in the Western world and learning modern science and technology and accumulating wealth.  It is our duty therefore as the leading mass of the world's Africans to take the initiative in the glorious task of freeing the Africans of the world and lifting them to the point of achievement that will demand for them the respect of other races and secure for them a chance to survive in this hate-drunk and bigoted world.

    Today you are making a valiant struggle to solve the American race problem.  The courage you are showing is indeed laudable but your efforts are not directed along those lines which will solve this problem.  You must see the African problem in its entirety before you can find the answer.

THE AMERICAN AFRICAN'S PROBLEM
    The problem of the American African is not how to live next door to white folks; eat with white folks; ride with white folks; or sit in school with white folks.  In the Northern part of America you do all these things, yet the race problem is just as acute in Northern America as it is in Southern America.

    Your problem is, how to dignify the African as a group; gain for him the recognition and respect of the world's people; guarantee to him and his posterity the opportunity of making the African's contribution to the sum total of human progress and achievement.  Committing racial suicide by the slow process of amalgamation is not the solution.  Suicide is cowardly whether committed by an individual or a race.   It is an open admission of weakness, fear of inferiority.

MAKING A GRAVE BLUNDER
    Because you lack proper understanding and perspective of the American race problem, you are today making the grave blunder of setting yourselves apart from the rest of the Black peoples of the world in your attempt to solve it.  You are bound for failure as long as you predicate the solution of the American African problem on the national issues that arise as the result of the African's existence in the United States.

    This narrow, limited view, you take of the race problem is responsible for much of your sufferings, frustrations and despair.  The problem of races is a world problem, and the American race problem is only one phase of it.  The African problem of the United States is so intimately and fundamentally connected with the African problem of the world that it becomes almost impossible to solve the American African problem separately from the African problem of the world.

    Therefore you, the American Africans, are committing a most serious blunder when you attempt to cut yourselves off from Africa and the problems of Africa.   The American African can be lifted only to the level of the African people of the world, for we are all part of one big black mass with only a difference of masters and geographic situations.  Only in proportion as the racial problems of this Black mass are solved with the real problems of the African be solved.

OUR FUTURE AND AFRICA'S FUTURE
    The future of the American African is tied up with the destiny of Africa whether you like it or not.  Only Africa's achievement can give us racial dignity.  Only Africa's achievement can make the world recognize and respect us.   Only Africa's strength and power can make the world careful of how it treats Blackmen.

    When Africa proves to the world that Blackmen are capable of developing their own culture, building their own states; establishing their own industries, then and only then will the lie be given to the Blackman's inferiority.

AFRICA'S STRUGGLE OUR STRUGGLE
    Africa's struggle for freedom, independence and security should be of major concern to every American African.  This does not mean that the American African must lessen his interest in those things to which he is entitled as a citizen of the United States.  It does mean that his fight for Africa should go hand in hand with his fight for citizenship rights.

    Polish-Americans, Italian-Americans, Irish-Americans, Jewish-Americans, etc., all though they are American citizens, rush to the aid of their mother countries whenever the occasion demands.
    And all these minorities in America, which is a nation of minorities, are respected far above the African because there are organized governments to show concern for their welfare.

LET US STAND SHOULDER TO SHOULDER
    Toward this objective the American African should travel.  He should stand shoulder to shoulder with the leaders of Africa in building rich, powerful and progressive African governments in Africa.  African governments which can represent the highest degree of modern African culture; African governments that can represent and speak for Africans of the world; African governments governed by Africans for the benefit of Africans.  It is toward this end the American skills, intelligence and money should be directed.
    I beseech you, the American African, to line up in the ranks of the Universal Negro Improvement Association which is pointing the Africans of the world toward these goals.

With very best wishes
I have the honor to be
Your obedient servant
WILLIAM L. SHERRILL
President General

*originally published in Garvey's Voice April-May 1958


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