“Colored Man Oppressed in North as Well as South”
On August 1, 1862, John Rock, an African American teacher, physician, and lawyer, gave a speech in Boston. He said in part,
“The present position of the colored man is a trying one; trying because the whole nation seems to have entered into a conspiracy to crush him. But few seem to comprehend our position in the free States. The masses seem to think that we are oppressed only in the South. This is a mistake; we are oppressed everywhere in this slavery-cursed land. . . . We desire to take part in this contest, and when our Government shall see the necessity of using the loyal blacks of the free States, I hope it will have the courage to recognize their manhood. It certainly will not be mean enough to force us to fight for your liberty, . . . and then leave us when we go home to our respective States to be told that we cannot ride in the [street]cars, that our children cannot go to the public schools, that we cannot vote, and if we don’t like that state of things, there is an appropriation to colonize us. We ask for our rights.”
– Submitted by Peter A. Gilbert, Vermont Humanities Council Executive Director
Margaret Wagner, The American Civil War: 365 Days, p. “June 7.”
“I Will Sink or Swim with My Race” — speech delivered by John S. Rock on March 5, 1858 at Boston’s Faneuil Hall as part of the annual Crispus Attucks Day observance organized by Boston’s black abolitionists in response to the Dred Scott decision.