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Proud To Be Black

Written Expressly for Negro Digest

By Howard Fast

If I were a Negro, I would be proud; yes, I would be so damned proud!

I would be proud because my people created civilizations when Europe was a forest; I would be proud because my people – and my people alone in all human history – made a single step from slavery to democracy; in Haiti, that was.

I would be proud because if forebearance and tolerance are qualities of civilization, than my people can be called one of the most civilized on earth.

I would be proud because under a mantle of persecution, ignorance, and abuse such as covered no other people in modern times, my people peacefully and legally made their way into the sunlight, giving to America an artist like Robeson, a scientist like Carver, a leader like Douglass, a writer like Hughes, and a thousand more besides.

I would be proud as a black American, because I would remember that in every American struggle for democracy or national-liberation, my people were in the forefront, among the first to declare themselves, among the first to fight, among the first to die.

I would be proud because during the Civil War, liberty was not given to my people; they fought for it, 200,000 strong; they poured out a river of blood and earned their liberty. And I would also be proud because during that time, when the women and children of the south were defenseless before their slaves, my people did not kill the helpless; they did not murder; they did not burn or rape – no, they exhibited such a humanity and tolerance as had not been known before.

I would be proud – so damned proud – because today, laying aside their wrongs, their hurts, their miseries, my people have joined fully and whole-heartedly in this war to liberate all people, putting the cause of humanity before petty causes, dying on foreign soil, so that men may be free.

I would be proud because in this recent political crisis, my people understood so well what was at stake, laid aside old taboos, and acted with maturity and decision.

Of all these things and a hundred more, I would be proud. I would walk with my head high. I would reflect that nothing worthwhile has ever been won easily, and I would join my energies and my forces with the forces of all men, whatever color, who work and fight for freedom, dignity, and the rights of man.

HOWARD FAST is one of America's topflight novelists, author of the recent sensational best seller Freedom Road. His other works include Citizen Tom Paine, The Unvanquished, and Conceived in Liberty.