by Nannie Helen Burroughs
1. The Negro Must Learn To Put First Things First. The First Things Are: Education; Development of Character Traits; A Trade and Home Ownership.
• The Negro puts too much of his earning in clothes, in food, in show and in having what he calls “a good time.” The Dr. Kelly Miller said, “The Negro buys what he WANTS and begs for what he Needs.” Too true!
2. The Negro Must Stop Expecting God and White Folk To Do For Him What He Can Do For Himself.
• It is the “Divine Plan” that the strong shall help the weak, but even God does not do for man what man can do for himself. The Negro will have to do exactly what Jesus told the man (in John 5:8) to do–Carry his own load–“Take up your bed and walk.”
3. The Negro Must Keep Himself, His Children And His Home Clean And Make The Surroundings In Which He Lives Comfortable and Attractive.
• He must learn to “run his community up”–not down. We can segregate by law, we integrate only by living. Civilization is not a matter of race; it is a matter of standards.
4. The Negro Must Learn To Dress More Appropriately For Work And For Leisure.
• Knowing what to wear–how to wear it–when to wear it and where to wear it, are earmarks of common sense, culture and also an index to character.
5. The Negro Must Make His Religion An Everyday Practice And Not Just A Sunday-Go-To-Meeting Emotional Affair.
6. The Negro Must Highly Resolve To Wipe Out Mass Ignorance.
• The leaders of the race must teach and inspire the masses to become eager and determined to improve mentally, morally and spiritually, and to meet the basic requirements of good citizenship. We should initiate an intensive literacy campaign in America, as well as in Africa. Ignorance– satisfied ignorance –is a millstone about the neck of the race. It is democracy’s greatest burden.
7. The Negro Must Stop Charging His Failures Up To His “Color” And To White People’s Attitude.
• God never intended that a man’s color shall be anything other than a badge of distinction. It is high time that all races were learning that fact. The Negro must first QUALIFY for whatever position he wants. Purpose, initiative, ingenuity and industry are the keys that all men use to get what they want. The Negro will have to do the same. He must make himself a workman who is too skilled not to be wanted, and too DEPENDABLE not to be on the job, according to promise or plan.
8. The Negro Must Overcome His Bad Job Habits.
• He must make a brand new reputation for himself in the world of labor. His bad job habits are absenteeism, funerals to attend, or a little business to look after. The Negro runs an off and on business. He also has a bad reputation for conduct on the job–such as petty quarrelling with other help, incessant loud talking about nothing; loafing, carelessness, due to lack of job pride; insolence, gum chewing and–too often–liquor drinking. Just plain bad job habits!
9. He Must Improve His Conduct In Public Places.
10. The Negro must learn how to operate business for people–not for Negro people, only.
• To do business, he will have to remove all typical “earmarks,” business principles; measure up to accepted standards and meet stimulating competition, graciously–in fact, he must learn to welcome competition.
11. The Average So-Called Educated Negro Will Have To Come Down Out Of The Air.
• Otherwise, through indifference, as to the plight of the masses, the Negro, who thinks that he has escaped, will lose his own soul.
• A race transformation itself through its own leaders and its sensible “common people.” A race rises on its own wings, or is held down by its own weight. True leaders are never “things apart from the people.” They are the masses. They simply got to the front ahead of them. Their only business at the front is to inspire to masses by hard work and noble example and challenge them to “Come on!”
• There must arise within the Negro race a leadership that is not out hunting bargains for itself. A noble example is found in the men and women of the Negro race, who, in the early days, laid down their lives for the people. Their invaluable contributions have not been appraised by the “latter-day leaders.” In many cases, their names would never be recorded, among the unsung heroes of the world if not for their White friends.
12. The Negro Must Stop Forgetting His Friends. “Remember.”
The Negro must make his heart warm with gratitude, his lips sweet with thanks and his heart and mind resolute with purpose to justify the sacrifices and stand on his feet and go forward– “God is no respecter of persons. In every nation, he that feareth him and worketh righteousness is” sure to win out. Get to work! That’s the answer to everything that hurts us. We talk too much about nothing!