Archive for the ‘Johnny Baker’ Tag

How Long?

As one with the good fortune to spend much of my time consulting historical documents for various projects, I come across a great deal of writing that I would like to share with all of you interested in parks, history, and improving life for all of us. Most of it I tuck away for later use, but this morning, while scouring sources for information on the Johnny Baker American Legion Post baseball team started by Bobby Marshall in 1927, I found a piece that I thought needs sharing more expeditiously. I am reaching across our great river with this one for it was written by Earl Wilkins, brother of Roy, when Earl was the editor of The St. Paul Echo an “Independent Negro Weekly Newspaper.” Unfortunately the Echo was only published for two years 1925-1927.

Here is the editorial published in the Echo December 12, 1925.


Once more the president has delivered his annual message to congress, and once more a plea of tolerance for the Negro has been made. Outlining the facts that the Negro makes up nearly one tenth of the population of the United States, that he is one of the most loyal citizens of the  country and that he has made almost incredible progress during 60 years in various arts, President Coolidge urges the necessity of securing to that large element in the population equal justice and protection from violence, and of punishing any persons who attempt violence upon that group.

In passing it may not be unwise to note that the effectiveness of the recommendations in this matter will depend largely upon the degree of earnestness which the president displays in that regard. If his later attitude shows an aggressive belief in the rights of his colored citizens, those rights will be more generally respected both as to individual treatment throughout the country, and to beneficial legislative enactment. Should he retreat, however to a lukewarm state now that the message has been broadcasted, the same evils of omitted action will be in evidence in the coming year as have often prevailed in the past.

The tragically humorous part of the message about the Negro is that the executive pleads in a way with certain elements in the country not to harm colored people. People who do commit violent acts upon Negroes should be punished, he says. That it should be necessary in this enlightened stage of civilization’s  progress, in a country which is admittedly Christian and one of the most progressive nations on the globe, to plead with the body of citizens that they should not harm any of the groups which make up the whole, is downright funny. Funnier still is that fact that the caution is not based upon unfounded whim, but upon the revolting truth that within the confines of these United States brutal crime is committed almost unchecked by a portion of the nine-tenths upon the ever-progressing one-tenth. Grim humor, that! Humor of the sort that is daily making smiling-faced black men with seething hearts realize more and more that only in co-operation among themselves can an integration be developed which will result in greater protection from within. Humor that can look back proudly upon six decades of eventful achievement in the face of supreme difficulties. Humor that glances undaunted into whatever the future may bring.

I doubt Wilkins could have imagined “undaunted” this future. Nearly a century. If I were cynical I would ask, “Where is President Coolidge when we need him?” Words no one ever could have imagined hearing.

David Carpentier Smith

P.S. If anyone has information on the Johnny Baker baseball team in 1927 and 1928 please let me know.

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