Sunday, July 26, 2009


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On April 17, 1944 the Colored Elks Clubs of Georgia held their state convention at First A.B. Church in Dublin. The event was hosted by the Norman G. McCall Elks Lodge of Dublin. The Georgia Elks clubs each sponsored a high school student in a statewide oratory contest. The winner of the contest was from Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta. In his speech, the fifteen-year-old student, who would enter Morehouse College in the fall, spoke on the topic of “The Negro and the Constitution.” The young man called for the better health and education of his people. He spoke of Christianity and the Golden Rule. He urged fair play and free opportunities at home, the same as we were fighting for in Europe and Asia. He suggested that if Negroes were given the franchise, “they will be vigilant and defend,even with their arms, the ark of federal liberty from treason and destruction by her enemies.” Little did the audience realize what they were witnessing. In a compiled autobiography, the young man recalls that the reading of this essay was his first public political speech. The young man spent the next twenty four years of his life fighting for the constitutional rights of the people of his race. By now, I know you have guessed who he was. The young man, who came to Dublin fifty six years ago,was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


By Martin L. King Jr

Negroes were first brought to America in 1620 when England legalized slavery both in England and the colonies and America; the institution grew and thrived for about 150 years upon the backs of these black men. The empire of King Cotton was built and the southland maintained a status of life and hospitality distinctly its own and not anywhere else.

On January 1, 1863 the proclamation emancipating the slaves which had been decreed by President Lincoln in September took effect, millions of Negroes faced a rising sun of a new day begun. Did they have habits of thrift or principles of honesty and integrity? Only a few! For their teachings and duties had been but two activities, love of Master, right or wrong, good or bad, and loyalty to work. What was to be the place for such men in the reconstruction of the south?

America gave its full pledge of freedom seventy-five years ago. Slavery has been a strange paradox in a nation founded on the principles that all men are created free and equal. Finally after tumult and war, the nation in 1865 took a new stand, freedom for all people. The new order was backed by amendments to the national constitution making it the fundamental law that thenceforth there should be no discrimination anywhere in the "land of the free" on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude.

Black America still wears chains. The finest Negro is at the mercy of the meanest white man. Even winners of our highest honors face the class color bar. Look at a few of the paradoxes that mark daily life in America. Marian Anderson was barred from singing in the Constitution Hall, ironically enough, by the professional daughters of the very men who founded this nation for liberty and equality. But this tale had a different ending. The nation rose in protest, and gave a stunning rebuke to the Daughters of the American Revolution and a tremendous ovation to the artist, Marian Anderson, who sang in Washington on Easter Sunday and fittingly, before the Lincoln Memorial. Ranking cabinet members and a justice of the supreme court were seated about her. Seventy-five thousand people stood patiently for hours to hear a great artist at a historic moment. She sang as never before with tears in her eyes. When the words of "America" and "Nobody Knows De Trouble I Seen" rang out over that great gathering, there was a hush on thee sea of uplifted faces, black and white, and a new baptism of liberty, equality and fraternity.

That was a touching tribute, but Miss Anderson may not as yet spend the night in any good hotel in America. Recently she was again signally honored by being given the Bok reward as the most distinguished resident of Philadelphia. Yet she cannot be served in many of the public restaurants of her home city, eveen after it has declared her to be its best citizen. So, with their right hand they raise to high places the great who have dark skins, and with their left, they slap us down to keep us in "our places." "Yes, America you have stripped me of my garments, you have robbed me of my precious endowment."

We cannot have an enlightened democracy with one great group living in ignorance. We cannot have a healthy nation with one tenth of the people ill-nourished, sick, harboring germs of disease which recognize no color lines, obey no Jim Crow laws. We cannot have a nation orderly and sound with one group so ground down and thwarted that it is almost forced into unsocial attitudes and crime. We cannot be truly Christian people so long as we flaunt the central teachings of Jesus: brotherly love and the Golden Rule. We cannot come to full prosperity with one great group so ill-delayed that it cannot buy goods. So as we gird ourselves to defend democracy from foreign attack, let us see to it that increasingly at home we give fair play and free opportunity for all people

Today thirteen million black sons and daughters of our forefathers continue the fight for the translation of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments from writing on the printed page to an actuality. We believe with them that "if freedom is good for any it is good for all," that we may conquer southern armies by the sword, but it is another thing to conquer southern hate, that if the franchise is given to Negroes, they will be vigilant and defend even with their arms, the ark of federal liberty from treason and destruction by her enemies.

The spirit of Lincoln still lives; that spirit born of the teachings of the Nazarene, who promised mercy to the merciful, who lifted the lowly, strengthened the weak, ate with publicans, and made the captives free. In the light of this divine example, the doctrines of demagogues shiver in their chaff. Already closer understanding links Saxon and Freedman in mutual sympathy.
America experiences a new birth of freedom in her sons and daughters; she incarnates the spirit of her martyred chief. Their loyalty is repledged; their devotion renewed to the work He left unfinished. My heart throbs anew in the hope that inspired by the example of Lincoln, imbued with the spirit of Christ, they will cast down the last barrier to perfect freedom. And I with my brother of blackest hue possessing at last my rightful heritage and holding my head erect, may stand beside the Saxon, a Negro, and yet a man!

The End

Thursday, July 16, 2009


The Story of a Laurens County Family

They are one of Laurens County’s oldest and most prolific families. In fact, they are several families. They take their name from the man who once owned them - the powerful and legendary George M. Troup of Laurens County, who was a former Georgia governor and United States senator. In the years following the Civil War, former slaves had to choose a surname, until then they were simply known by their first name. Many of these former slaves took the name of their former master. This is a story of one of those families, the families of Obediah Troup and his son, Charles Troupe.

The 1870 Census was the first census to enumerate black citizens. In that year, fifty-one Laurens County families bore the surname of Troup or Trouppe. Just before the turn of the century some of the families changed their last name to Edmond. These families were not all related to each other by blood, but they were bound together by their common last name and heritage, lived in the Dudley area, near or on the old Troup plantations at Valambrosa and Thomas Crossroads. They worked under the supervision of Dr. John Vigal, the governor’s son-in-law, and later Robert Wayne, husband of one of the governor’s granddaughters, Augusta Forman. The senior members of the Troup family were Mariah, who was born in 1785; Richard, who was born in 1790; Isaac, who was born in 1794; and David, who was born in 1799. When George Troup died in 1856, his estate included more than three hundred slaves, all of whom are listed in the inventory of his estate in Division of Estates Book, "B" in the Probate Court.

Obediah Troup was born in May of 1835. When Gov. Troup died in 1856, Obediah was twenty-one years old, and accordingly, was the highest valued slave on the Valambrosa Plantation at twelve hundred dollars. Around that time, Obediah married Katie or Caty. No record of their marriage was made under the record system in effect at the time. It appears that Obediah and Katie Troup were living apart from the main group of families in 1870. In 1880, the Troup household, then located in the Bailey District, consisted of Obediah, Katie and their children: Bennett, Wallace, Charles, Willis, Phillip, Lelia, Luselia, and Delia. The Troups were a typical farming family of the day with a large number of children to help on the farm.

Charles Troupe married Mary B. Williams on October 29, 1891 in Laurens County. Charles, like his father, was a share cropping farmer. Charles and Mary lived on a farm not too far from his father’s farm in the Harvard District near Montrose. Charles, also like his father, had a large family - ten children: Eva, Donna, Phillip, George, Lee, Charles, Minnie, Albert, James, and Quincy. One day, Albert got into a difficult predicament with a farm overseer. Fearing, that his son would never be able to resolve the dispute with the man, Charles decided to accept the offer of a friend from St. Louis to go there for a better paying job and a better way of life. Times were bad in Laurens County. Cotton crops were being eaten by boll weevils, money was tight, and tempers and racial tolerances were short. Charles and his sons, Albert and George, left Dublin in the early 1920s to establish the new family home. Mary and the rest of the family, headed by the eldest son Phillip, an amputee victim of a childhood fever, moved to the Ed Darden farm. The Darden farm was near the Smitherman farm in southern Laurens County. In 1922, Mary and the rest of the children moved to St. Louis to begin their new life.

Eva, the eldest child, married a Yopp and moved to New Britain, Connecticut. Donna, married a Hudson and moved to Baltimore, Maryland. Lee lived in Newark, New Jersey. The rest of the family remained in St. Louis. All of them lived to ripe old ages. Donna lived to be ninety six years old. Phillip and Minnie lived to be more than ninety. Quincy, the baby of the family, was the most well known of the children. He developed a skill for boxing, which was eclipsed only by his talent for baseball. He enjoyed a twenty-year career in professional baseball. He was known to have been one of the best catchers in the history of the Negro Leagues. Quincy managed and played for the Cleveland Buckeyes, the 1945 Negro League Champions. His collection of memorabilia was the foundation of the Negro League Hall of Fame Museum in St. Louis.

James "Pal" Troupe, the ninth child, took an ardent interest in improving his community. Pal Troupe served as a Commissioner of the St. Louis Public Housing Authority from 1951 to 1954, when he was elected to the Missouri Legislature. In his sixteen-year career in the Missouri house (1954-1960, 1962-1972), Troupe rose to the chairmanship of the black caucus and became an advocate for those in public housing. During that time, Troupe served as a business representative for the United Steelworkers of America and supported the causes of labor in his state. Although he lost two congressional races, Troupe was a well-respected member of the St. Louis community. Like his father and grandfather before him, he had a large family. When he died in 1994, Troupe had nine children, forty-five grandchildren, and fifty great grandchildren.

Two of Quincy’s children, Charles Quincy Troupe and Quincy Troupe, Jr. have followed different, although highly successful, career paths than their father. Charles Quincy Troupe, following in the footsteps of his uncle "Pal," was elected to the Missouri legislature in 1978.

For twenty-two years, Troupe has been an advocate for the rights of the disadvantaged, the powerless, and the underprivileged. Troupe lists among his most lasting contributions his landmark legislation to educate pregnant teenage girls, a support system for AIDS victims, and the implementation of electronic transfer of government program benefits. In private life, he is an electrical contractor, developer, and union official. While he is considered a liberal on social issues, Troupe is deeply disturbed by the amount of immorality and violence on television - an issue generally championed by conservatives. Troupe, chairman of the House committee on Social Service and Corrections, will be forced out of office in 2003 with the imposition of term limits, but he plans to continue his fight to battle to end privatization of state prisons.

Quincy Troupe, Jr., while possessing some of his father’s athletic ability, has become a nationally known poet, biographer, and novelist. Troupe has a passionate interest in music, which led to his coauthoring of a book with jazz legend Miles Davis: "Miles: The Autobiography," for which he won an American Book Award. Troupe has also published a nationally distributed book, "Miles and Me," based on his experiences with Davis. The topics of his poems published in six volumes range from the injustice he sees in America - a mission which seems to be inherent in the Troupe family to the celebration of his love of jazz. His book "Snake-back Solos" brought him a second American Book Award. Troupe is also the winner of the prestigious Peabody Award for "Miles Davis Radio Project." Troupe was recently featured on the PBS program, "The Language of Life" with Bill Moyers.