New National Era clipping

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Gleed, Robert; Columbus (Miss.)

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Visit to Columbus, Lowndes County, Miss.

De Kalb, Miss, Feb. 14, 1872

To the Editor of the New National Era:

Having just returned from a visit to the above-named city, and thinking that the readres of your valuable paper would be interested with some information respecting the condition of our people in that section of this State, I have concluded to write this article for the benefit of all concerned. Columbus, the county seat of Lowndes county, one of the most productive and wealthy counties in the State, is a beautiful and thriving little city, situated on Tombigbee river in the northeastern portion of the State, contains about six thousand inhabitants, and is noted for the enterprise and intelligence of its citizens. Prominent among the business men of color are Hon. R. Gleed and Mr. J. Rabb, both energetic and successful merchants. The former is worth about fifteen thousand dollars, and the latter about twenty, being the owner of a large and commodious building situated in the central part of the city, and occupied by the branch office of the Freedmen's National Savings Institute. The colored people have formed, and in successful operation, a joint stock association with an organized capital of seven thousand dollars, besides various other establishments of less note. The branch office of the Freedmen's Savings Institute, under the management of Mr. G. W. Vanhook, an energetic and Christian gentleman, is steadily gaining public confidence, and is doing a noble work in the improvement of our race, by diffusing a spirit of industry and economy. Thanks to the original founders for its advantages. The Columbus Union Academy, designed for the education of the children of our race, is one of the finest public schools in the State. The building is two stories high, well ventilated, and is furnished with all the necessary apparatus to conduct a first-class school. It contains six rooms, including the chapel, where every Sunday morning nearly four hundred children meet for Sabbath-school instruction. Besides the regular course of studies, the scholars enjoy the advantage of musical instruction, and several young ladies are making marked progress in that direction.

It averaged in attendance, during the past month, over three hundred pupils, under the instruction of six teachers, which is shortly to be increased by the addition of two more. In no part of the State are our people making faster progress in the scale of intelligence than what they are in Columbus. Besides the Academy, there is in successful operation about forty colored schools throughout the county, (but I must stop a moment to prevent my better nature from becoming passionate, while thinking of the cruel separation and unjust discrimination.) Oh, how I long for redress under the superintendence of Mr. J. N. Bishop, who has spent six years of labor in this State, amidst prejudice and opposition, for the moral and intellectual improvement of our race. Having discharged, in a creditable manner, the responsible position of Assistant State Superintendent in the Educational Department of the Freedmen's Bureau, and has held the office of County Superintendent of Public Instruction in Lowndes county ever since the establishment of our present State school system. He is a perfect scholar and Christian gentleman, and the citizens of Columbus, irrespective of color, can justly pride themselves upon having such an able and experienced educator in their midst. There are three colored churches in the city - two Baptists and one Methodist - all in a prosperous condition, and laboring zealously for the salvation of mankind and the moral improvement of their people. The Columbus Press, a fearless and bold exponent of Republican principles, mainly supported by our people, under the editorial management of Mr. J. N. Bishop and Major H. B. Whitfield, has already declared itself in favor of the re-election of Gen. Grant for President in 1872. The action of Congress on the pending Civil Rights bill is watched with intense anxiety by our people in that section.

Hon. R. Gleed, State Senator from that county, recently gave us another example of his fidelity to the interests of his race by offering a resolution in the Senate to disapprove of the action of Alcorn in relation to Senator Sumner's Civil Rights bill; but, owing to the opposition of Senators who feign to be Republicans, it was defeated. At the same time a resolution offered by Mr. Gray, of Washington county, to tender a vote of thanks to Hon. Adelbert Ames, United States Senator from this State, for voting in favor of the bill, met with the same fate. But still he lives in the grateful remembrance of his constituents, while Alcorn, by his unstable actions, has already borne himself politically to where it is said "the woodbine twineth."

But to return to my subject. With the commercial footing that our people have already gained in Columbus, combined with the moral, intellectual advantages they possess, and the influence and energy of such staunch Republicans as Major H. B. Whitfield, H. W. Lewis, J. N. Bishop, G. W. Vanhook, and other white friends, we can safely predict for them a bright and glorious success in the future.





New National Era, “New National Era clipping,” Mississippi State University Libraries, accessed December 10, 2023,

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