Before Robert F. Williams was advocating an armed struggle in North Carolina in the early 1960s’, before The Deacons for Defense were founded in Louisana to protect civil rights marchers and workers, before Stokely Carmichael spoke to the crowd in Greenwood, Mississippi, in June of 1966, before The Black Panther Party For Self Defense was founded in Oakland, California on October 15, 1966, and advocated black power, before H Rap Brown spoke of the legacy of violence that was formulated against black people in this nation, before Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Paul Robeson, Booker T. Washington, Dubois, Trotter, there was John E. Bruce, better known as “Bruce Grit” to the those in conscious in the black communities throughout this nation.
John E. Bruce was described in 1901 as the “prince of Negro newspaper correspondents.” He was the author of The Bloody Red Record, a compilation of lynchings in the United States published in 1901. This compilation of lynchings came before the advocacy of Ida Belle Wells-Barnett at a time when any Blackman speaking out against the tactics of white oppression was putting a target on his chest for physical retribution by the oppressors. During that time Jim Crow was ramping up in the southern states of this nation. Some of those tactics were being adopted in many states of the north as well. They were very few black people who were aware of the organized efforts to fight the forces of white supremacy. They were very few blacks aware that a call was made to develop organized resistance against lynching and as well as white mob violence that was perpetrated against blacks in this nation in the late 19th Century.
In this speech, I am reading aloud today John E. Bruce, “Bruce Grit”, came before an audience of black Americans in an undisclosed location. He called on African Americans to apply the principle of self-defense against the white terrorists who were seeking to harm them. He also desired that Black Americans begin to fight collectively against those forces of evil white supremacy. The Blackman Who Reads Aloud brings to you the words of John E. Bruce as he spoke them on October 5, 1889, only 34 years after black Americans were freed from the shackles of slavery.