Project Uplift Literacy
In Their Words, My Voice
James Lynch May 13, 1865
“Colored Men Standing in the Way of their Own Race”
We still have this issue today almost 151 years after James Lynch spoke so eloquently about it 151 years ago.
When James Lynch gave the speech that appears below, his great achievements lay in the future. Born in Baltimore in 1839, Lynch at the age of 24 went to South Carolina as one of the first A.M.E. missionaries to the freedmen and women. From 1866 to 1867, Lynch was editor of the Christian Recorder in Philadelphia, a leading newspaper for the supporters of Reconstruction. He resigned from the paper in 1867 to organize for the Republicans in Mississippi while working with the Freedman’s Bureau. In 1871 Lynch was elected secretary of state of Mississippi, the first African-American to hold that post. On May 13, 1865, Lynch delivered this speech at a meeting of the Young Men's Literary and Debating Society of Philadelphia. In it, he challenges African Americans to work for racial unity.