Today’s post shines a light on the early racial tensions in Caddo. Throughout the history of this area there was a dividing line between whites and blacks. Caddo had a Negro church, school, baseball team, and “area”. On the one hand there seemed to be a little tolerance here and there. There are mentions in biographies and interviews of whites who had black friends. The Choctaws intermarried with some blacks. But for the most part the tolerance was short-lived if anyone crossed the line. There are accounts of the beating, lynching, shooting, and burning of “negroes” and the word is never capitalized. There are other more derogatory terms used openly in the paper. And I can find no evidence that a black person ever held a place of prominence in Caddo.
I suppose the reasons for the racial tension are pretty obvious. This was an area settled by a lot of former Confederate soldiers and former slave owners. Many Caddo residents were from the Deep South. Many blacks who wandered this way after the war were poor and had few skills other than working in the fields. So they continued with what they knew, and the local residents did the same.
Here is a repeat of a piece I posted last year:
Of all the conflicts between the Democrats and the Socialists in Caddo, nothing seemed to upset the editor of the Caddo Herald more than the idea that the Socialists embraced the Negroes as equals. In the August 7, 1914 issue of the paper, in his regular feature “What Socialism Stands for”, Mr. Carraway makes the following statements:
“Clarence E. Darrow, a Chicago lawyer and perhaps one of the foremost socialists of the United States, in an address to the National Negro Committee, in Cooper Union, New York, on the night of May 10, 1910, said: ‘It may be a long way in the future, but intermarriage between the races will finally settle all difficulties as it has with the Irish and Germans, and other people who had to be formally kept apart to preserve the peace. It is not the color that causes the distinction between the Negroes and the white people. The real basis is that the Negroes were once slave and are now in the ranks of labor. It is a race question rather than a race problem that the way for a Negro to gain recognition is to cast his lot with the poor and fight with them and for them.’
In other words, according to Darrow, if the Negro will cast his lot with the socialists they will embrace him as a brother and “Kumrid” and will help him to solve the race problem by giving their sons and daughters in marriage to the Negroes. He can not mean anything else, he says it in words so plain that even a fool may not misunderstand the meaning.(A few more quotes from Darrow about fellowship with Negro workers.)Do you think there can be any mistake as to the socialist position in regard to the Negro? If you believe that your sons are none too good to marry Negro wenches and that your daughters should not be above marrying a n___ buck, then you should join the socialist party—it is the only political party that has gone on record as in favor of amalgamation of the white and Negro races. It is the only political party that has ever tried to regulate the family, home, religion and prescribe the clothes that you ear and what you shall have for your daily meals. There it is, if you like, take it, it’s your privilege to go to hell if you want to.”
People have asked me numerous times if I have read accounts of all the blacks being “run out of town”. I have not. I guess the old timers here were told stories of some sort of mass exodus. If it happened, I have not found an account of it in the paper. I suspect that the black population simply dwindled over the years as the hostilities increased. There is this brief item in the paper which indicates that by 1911 there were too few negroes in the area to keep their school open.
January 28, 1916
Wednesday afternoon a number of businessmen gathered in the office of John L. Boland to attend to some matters of public nature which required quick action.
W. F. Dodd was chairman and J. L. Boland secretary.
A resolution was passed requesting the school trustees to call an election of the question of whether or not they shall sell the old negro school building which has not been used for the past five years. The money will be applied toward building sidewalks to the new school building. The old building is useless because there are no negroes here to use it.
The Caddo Herald
August 11, 1899
Last week Judge Ralls tried a white person who is alleged to have assaulted a crippled negro man in Durant some time since. A fine of $100 was imposed and it is said that as a result the village waxed exceeding wroth and held a mass indignation meeting replete with oratory and profanity and punctuated with resolutions. It is not known whether the mass meeting removed Mr. Ralls from office, but at last account the “carpet bag bureaucratic justice shop” presided over by that gentleman was ladling out a pretty fair quality of the brand of justice the trade mark of which is a parallelogram of rag with red and white stripes horizontal and some white stars on a blue spot in the upper left hand corner. It is a rather familiar design throughout the world.
The Caddo Herald
Last Saturday evening a game negro became too obstreperous and displayed a six-shooter in the presence of Marshal House, who ordered the Senegambian to consider himself under arrest. The coon did not consider the matter in that light. Instead he aimed the revolver at House and backed toward his horse which was standing near, which he mounted and escaped. The Marshal, assisted by ex-marshal J. T. Jackson, gave chase, but the negro, being mounted on a good horse, maintained his lead on the officers. Mr. House was not armed at the time the negro drew a bead on him and bluffed; had he been there would most likely have been a sort of fireworks display and a dead darkey to the credit of the new marshal.