Reverend J. L. Moore on the Colored Farmers' Alliance

March 7, 1891

Here is an early argument for the idea of an alliance between white and black fanners. In this letter to a Florida newspaper, Reverend J. L. Moore, a leader of the Florida Colored Farmers' Alliance, argues1 that "the laboring colored man's interests and the laboring white man's interests are one and the same," urging the formation of political parties that serve the needs of farmers and working people.

From Voices of A People's History, edited by Zinn and Arnove

In all the discussions of the whites in all the various meetings they attend and the different resolutions, remarks, and speeches they make against the Negro, I never hear you, Mr. Editor, nor any of the other leading journals, once criticize their action or say they are antagonizing the races, neither do you ever call a halt. But let the Negro speak once, and what do you hear? Antagonizing races, Negro uprising, Negro domination, etc. Anything to keep the reading public hostile toward the Negro, not allowing him the privilege to speak his opinion, and if that opinion be wrong show him by argument, and not at once make it a race issue....

[A]s members of the Colored Farmers' Alliance we avowed that we were going to vote with and for the man or party that will secure for the farmer or laboring man his just rights and privileges, and in order that he may enjoy them without experiencing a burden.

We want protection at the ballot box, so that the laboring man may have an equal showing, and the various labor organizations to secure their just rights, we will join hands with them irrespective of party, "and those fellows will have to walk." We are aware of the fact that the laboring colored man's interests and the laboring white man s interests are one and the same. Especially is this true at the South. Anything that can be brought about to benefit the workingman, will also benefit the Negro more than any other legislation that can be enacted— .

So I for one have fully decided to vote with and work for that party, or those who favor the workingman, let them belong to the Democratic, or Republican, or the People's Party. I know I speak the sentiment of that convention, representing as we do one-fifth of the laborers of this country, seven-eighths of our race in this country being engaged in agricultural pursuits.

Can you wonder why we have turned our attention from the few pitiful offices a few of our members could secure, and turned our attention toward benefiting the mass of our race, and why we are willing to legislate that this must be benefited? And we ask Congress to protect the ballot box, so they may be justly dealt with in their effort to gain that power. We know and you know that neither of the now existing parties is going to legislate in the interest of the farmers or laboring men except so far as it does not conflict with their interest to do so....

Now, Mr. Editor, I wish to say, if the laboring men of the United States will lay down party issues and combine to enact laws for the benefit of the laboring man, I, as county superintendent of Putnam County Colored Farmers' Alliance, and member of the National Colored Farmers, know that I voice the sentiment of that body, representing as we did 750,000 votes, when I say we are willing and ready to lay down the past, take hold with them irrespective of party, race, or creed, until the cry shall be heard from the Heights of Abraham of the North, to the Everglades of Florida, and from the rock-bound coast of the East, to the Golden Eldorado of the West, that we can heartily endorse the motto, "Equal rights to all and special privileges to none."


1 Reverend J. L. Moore on the Colored Farmers' Alliance f March 7. 1891). First printed as J. L. Moore. "The Florida Colored Farmers' Alliance, 1891," in National Economist (Washington, DC), Much 7, 1891. Reprinted at Reverend J. L. Moore, "We Join Hands...." in Milton Meftzcr, ed., In Their Own Words: The History of the American Negro 1865-1916, vol. 2 (New York Thomas V. Crowd! Company, 1965), pp. 109-11.

Back To History Is A Weapon's Front Page