Welcome To Black Mail!
Where we bring you Black History, Special Delivery.
The Negro Sanhedrin was founded by Kelly Miller (1863-1939). The organization aimed to increase collaboration and unity among Black organizations in the United States. The “Sanhedrin” originally was a Jewish religious and legislative body of ancient Israel. It was comprised of leaders appointed to oversee each city of Israel. In Hebrew, the word means “sitting together, an assembly or council.” The term embodied what Miller envisioned, a national organization with a clear agenda and regional leadership in place across the United States. Miller’s singular focus on the condition of the Black community in the United States was different than that of other movements active at the time, including the Pan African Conference led by W.E.B. Du Bois, which focused on the global Black community. It also differed from the vision of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association which focused on the emigration of Black Americans back to Africa.
Miller felt that black organizations often duplicated efforts and lacked clarity in addressing the priorities of the black community with a unified voice. Miller, a lauded sociologist, served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Howard University. He was highly respected and able to draw representation from sixty-three Black organizations to meet in Chicago for 5 days in 1924. Organizations included the National Association For The Advancement of Colored People, the Equal Rights League, the Race Congress, the International Uplift League, and the Friends of Negro Freedom. Miller also invited individuals of influence unaffiliated with a Black organization. The event drew approximately 300 delegates.
During the week-long conference, the group identified seven key challenges faced by Black Americans: the need to improve public health, the necessity for education equality, the address and end the exploitation of black labor, the protection of black franchise (business development), equal rights for women, supporting and strengthening the right of protest, public utterance, and the improvement of interracial relations. It would be interesting to hear Miller’s perspective on these issues as they exist today.
The delegates also identified areas of focus related to internal policy targeted at improvements within the internal Black community: the need to build a strong, independent business community, creation of black fraternal and charitable organizations, improvements to the Black press to make it “less partisan” and “more dignified,” the establishment of relationships with Blacks around the world, uplift and support of Black youth, and the promotion and study of African and Black culture.
Miller referred to the Negro Sanhedrin as “an influence rather than an organization,” he planned to convene biennial gatherings nationally. However, the group never met again after its first meeting.
Another installment of melanated mail has been delivered. Ponder, reflect, and pass it on!
Leave a Reply