National Baptist Convention's Norris
E. C. Norris led the National
Baptist Convention for 27 years from its founding in 1895.
These excerpts were from his 1899 convention address.
domestic relations to this country, many of our people feel that
they have a just cause to complain of the treatment they receive at
the hands of the people among whom they live. And the man is indeed
blind who cannot see that the race feeling in this country has grown
continually for the last two decades. But since the organic law of
the land stands unimpeached, there is room left to inquire. Is it
only race hatred, or is it not the out-growth of a lawless spirit
which has taken possession of many of the people in this country?
Perhaps it appeared when this spirit of anarchy first took hold in
this country that it was directed to a particular class or race of
people. But that can no longer be said. For, indeed, it is evident
that those who will forget themselves so far as to take the laws
into their own hands and hang, shoot down and burn helpless Negroes,
will ere long turn and slaughter one another....
"Ministers of the Gospel and good people everywhere should lift
their voices against all classes of crime which is blackening the
record of our country. The man who will not lift his voice in
defense of the sacredness of the home and the chastity of the women
in this country, is unworthy to be called a man. It is but right
that the man who breaks over the sacred precincts of the home and
perpetrates a dastardly deed - it is but right that he be made to
pay the penalty of the inhuman act. ... Reason will again be
enthroned; the laws of the country, live the laws of God will be
supreme; and from the least to the greatest, the people will 'submit
to every ordinance of man, for the Lord's sake.'" (E. C.
Norris, 1899, from African American Religious History: A
Documentary Witness, Ed. Milton C. Sernett, Duke U. Pr., 1999,