People now days don't know that theories of white supremacy in the former Confederate states precluded that African Americans could do intellectual work including mathematics.
UPDATE: See J.K. Bivins item after the quote. UPDATE2: See Mildred Rutherford item after Bivins item.
There was a book series titled, "The South in the Building of the Nation," which was advertised in the Confederate Veteran and had contributors of leading white Southern scholars. This is extract is from, from the article "The Negro," Volume 7, Chapter 25, pages 530-532. You can read it at this link. The following section was written by H.L. Brock of New York City.
It was the publication of The Southern Historical Publication Society.
When you read the following rubbish you realize why this movie, "Hidden Figures," is important. I have added boldface to the references to mathematics.
In fact, the genuinely intellectual side of the negro, the power to use the mind independently, to judge, analyze, combine, is not nourished to any very profit- able extent on books at all ; rather it thrives on every- day practical affairs. In every community in the South and in many in the North, you will find the shrewd, successful negro or negroid who has these powers though he cannot sign his name, and along- THE NEGRO. 531 side of him the college-bred negro, full of parrot phrases and classroom jargon, utterly lacking the powers which the other daily exercises. The ex- plantation seems obvious. The negro is mentally quite sufficiently developed to use his brain with effect upon the immediate and the concrete. He is not sufficiently developed to start with the white man's generalizations, or more exactly, the formulas in which these generalizations are expressed, and work down to the concrete. He is in the class in arithmetic. He is not fit yet for that in algebra and analytics. The capable Booker T. Wash- ington is in type and in fact exactly like Peter the successful barber and "Walker who runs a profitable carrier's business in a certain Southern town, though neither Peter nor Walker can read or write. It is Washington's native shrewdness which has made him what he is, which has enabled him (as did Walker also) to stand well with the white commun- ity while he leads the blacks. His knowledge of the white man's books is incidental. Indeed, it is strict- ly limited to a small set of simple and purely utili- tarian chapters. It is the rule of three. Algebra, Washington does not attempt, nor pretend to con- noisseurship in the fine art of letters. Of all the negroes who have essayed books after the white man's pernicious example, the earliest ex- hibit, Phyllis Wheatley, was a case of the hot-house process pure and simple. This slave girl, born in Africa and brought to Boston at the age of about eight years in 1761, was kept in a house of one John Wheatley of that town, and " educated" taught the trick of verse. Her verses were printed as a curi- osity at the time and her "Poems" have no other interest. It may be said, in fact, that every achievement, especially every intellectual or literary achievement, 532 HISTOEY OF THE INTELLECTUAL LIFE. of every negro gets, because it is the achievement of a negro and as such a curiosity, an amount of ad- vertising which makes it loom much larger than life on the contemporary horizon; which must be discounted in any calm estimate of the intellectual and literary progress of the race. What is true of Phyllis Wheatley absolutely, or Douglass largely, is true to no inconsiderable extent of Booker T. Washington and DuBois. Both owe a certain part of their seeming eminence to the quality of rarity which is the sole distinction of the man with six fingers. Even Paul Laurence Dunbar (b. Dayton, 0., 1872; d. 1906, contributor to newspapers in New York and sometime a member of the staff of the Library of Congress) admittedly a genuine, though minor, poet, has a fame quite disproportionate to his actual place in the catalogue of contemporary minor poets. He, too, is, in part, a curiosity.
This is an extract from "Echoes of the Confederacy" by Viola Cobb Bivins, published in 1950 by here and printed in Dallas, Texas by Banks Upshaw and Company. Extract from pages 29-30 in Chapter 3, "How Was The Civilization of the Old South Destroyed." The extract is a condemnation of the 13th Amendment which abolished slavery. Bivins was the president of the Texas Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and her book was meant to instruct the public on the Confederacy, slavery and race. Bivins argues that instead of Reconstruction the control of the freed slaves should have been left to the former slaveholders. She writes:
The would not have given them social equality, for this the Negro did not desire until false friends urged it upon them as a right, and even now the better class of Negro does not desire it. The Negroes would have been given school opportunities befitting the race. They would not have been given instructions in Greek and Latin and higher mathematics,except those desiring to teach and preach, but the majority would have been prepared for life along industrial lines. [Italics in the original.]
I think the copyright of the book has expired. It is a fairly good example on how so-called Confederate heritage is white supremacy and is anti-democratic.
Mildred Rutherford was the Historian General of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
At http://www.confederatepastpresent.org you can read an extract from her pamphlet, "The Civilization of the Old South: What Made It: What Destroyed It: What Has Replaced It." It was an address given to the United Daughters of the Confederacy in Dallas, TX Nov. 9, 1916. You can read it at this link. You can see that it is where Bivins got her ideas for her book.
I boldface the reference to mathematics.
How Was the Civilization of the Old South Destroyed?
The XIII. Amendment in 1865 set free in the midst of their former owners nearly 6,000,000 slaves, totally unprepared for freedom and while a factor it was not the greatest factor in destroying the civilization of the South. The men of the Southern army returned to their desolated homes, having taken the oath of allegiance in good faith, and were ready to accept, without a murmur, this amendment when it came.
The planters began to parcel out their land and start their negroes in life as farm tenants. Their affection and interest in their negroes would not only have assured their protection but would have caused their being fed until self-supporting, and other Southern men would have also adjusted themselves to new conditions. Had they then been left untrammelled, matters would have been quickly adjusted. There might have been some friction, but far less than followed under reconstruction policies. The old masters would have helped their faithful negroes to buy homes and to prepare themselves for freedom. The negroes had confidence in their owners and would not have questioned their advice. They could have made better terms under these conditions than were made by false friends under the Freedman’s Bureau.
The men of the South would not have given them civil or political rights until they were prepared for them. They would not have given them social equality, for this the negro did not desire, until false friends from the North urged it upon them as a right, and even then, nor now, do the better class of negroes desire it. The negroes would have been given school opportunities and an education befitting the race would have been given to them. They would not have been given instruction in Greek and Latin and higher mathematics, except to those desiring to teach and to preach, but the majority would have been prepared for life along industrial lines.
The North, at this time, blundered greatly by allowing Thad Stevens and his Committee to issue the “Exodus Order” which separated the negroes from their old owners, and to place in the South the Freedman’s Bureau with the promise of “forty acres and a mule”—encouraging shiftlessness!
This unwise policy was the real blow aimed at the overthrow of the civilization of the Old South. The men of the South were then put under military discipline which actually tied their hands and only the Ku Klux, the “Chivalry of the Old South,” could break these bonds that fettered them.
The negroes began rapidly, to leave their homes, because; they had been told that they would be kept in slavery still if they did not. Strange negroes came in their stead and the trouble began—for, by the Freedman’s Bureau, the part of the negro was always taken against the whites, whether right or wrong. Men and women who never had done menial work now had to learn, rather than contend with impertinent negroes they had no power to punish. Many had no money to pay for help and the negroes had no desire to work. They were waiting for some one to support them.
The South blundered in allowing the North to supply the teachers for the negro schools. These teachers should have been the white people or the negroes of the South.
“School marms” came down, impressed with the missionary spirit, to help these “poor benighted blacks,” to keep them from being downtrodden and imposed upon, and they gave to them a taste of social equality which spoiled them for service in Southern homes.
One of these teachers invited “Aunt Mandy,” calling her Mrs. Brown, to come in to sit with her, saying she was lonely. “Are you going?” asked “Ole Mis’”
“Law, ‘Ole Mis’ ’, you know I aint goin’! Them white folks that wants me to set with them aint the white folks I wants to set with.”
This was the thought of the aristocratic negro of the Old South.
Mammy, being told that Pres. Roosevelt had invited Booker Washington to lunch with him, said,
“Surely Booker Washington had better manners than to set down to the white folks’ table?”
“No, he didn’t, Mammy, he went in and took lunch with Mr. Roosevelt.”
“Oh! I am ‘shamed of Booker Washington—his mammy ought to have taught him better manners than that.”
“But, Mammy, suppose it had been you, and Pres. Roosevelt had insisted upon it, what would you have said?”
“Oh! I would have said, ‘Scuse me, Mars Roosevelt, I ain’t hungry.”
And that is just the answer a Southern negro aristocrat would have made. They had an aristocracy just as marked as the whites had, and this aristocracy the whites respected.
Rena was asked to take dinner at the University where her daughter received her diploma. She accepted the invitation but when she found that she was to sit at the table with the white members of the faculty, she slipped out of the room, saying “My little nigger can eat with white folks but I can’t.”
The helplessness of the negro at the time of freedom was pathetic. He was a little child in his dependence. He had no need for money, for he once had supplied to him the things money would buy for his needs, so when he received his money for wages he spent it as a child.
The first driver my father was forced to hire, a year after the surrender, had to be furnished a suit of clothes and hat and shoes before he was presentable on the carriage seat. Yet when he was paid his first month’s wages of $10, $8 was spent for an accordion and the remaining $2 for fire crackers, which like a child he quickly fired.
A Northern man who bought one of the Southern plantations noticed an old negro man helping himself to fire wood. He asked him one day where he bought his wood.
“It’s jest this way,” he answered, “My pa was coachman at the Big House over there, and he pa and he pa so there’s no need for one gentleman to ax another gentleman whar he gits his wood.” “Ole Marster” had always given his wood so this old negro had no idea he was stealing.
That wood was his by right of service from his family was the teaching of the carpetbaggers after the war. To steal from a negro was a great sin, they said, but no sin to steal from white people for all they had the negroes made. The Southern people suffered grievously from this teaching. They saw with real distress how, under false teaching, the negroes were being alienated from them and being harmed, not helped. The negroes under false advisers resented any interference from Southern whites, and the situation became terrible—far worse
than is pictured in “The Birth of a Nation,” horrible as that is. It was not only a time of real oppression, but also a time of repression, suppression and fearful humiliation. The South lost $2,000,000,000 by loss of slaves together with confiscated and destroyed property. The South was also left with a bonded war debt of $300,000,000.
It is really refreshing to realize, even at this late day, that some of the leading negro leaders are conscious of the mistakes that have been made and are willing to acknowledge it.
A leader named Wilkins, at Little Rock, Ark., in 1915, said on Emancipation Day:
“We are foolish for celebrating, an event which has meant nothing to us but humiliation, persecution, alienation, degradation, obloquy, scorn, and contempt.
We are celebrating a day that never took place and you know it as well as I do.
But some things did take place on that day. Our Southern white friends fed us, clothed us, and administered to us. Let us not forget that, but rather celebrate that. Remember now, those of you who think Lincoln’s Proclamation set us free, that if it did, it was our white friends that kept us from starving.”
Pres. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation never freed the negro nor did Lincoln expect it to. It was a political move against the seceding states to force men at the North to re-enlist, and in the hope that it would make Southern men return to protect their families from negro insurrection and thus end the war, and to induce foreign nations to refuse to acknowledge the Confederacy.
Not a negro in the states that did not secede was freed by Lincoln’s Proclamation and it had no effect even in the South as it was unconstitutional and Lincoln knew it. Many in the North resented it, and Lincoln was unhappy over the situation as Lamon testified. The negroes were freed by an amendment offered by a Southern man and, did not become a law until after Lincoln’s death. It really is a farce for negroes to celebrate Emancipation Day.
By the freedom of the slaves and the estrangements that followed between them and their former owners the civilization of the Old South gradually passed away.
Mark Twain said, “The eight years in America, 1860-1868, uprooted an institution centuries old, and wrought so profoundly upon the national character of the people that the influence will
be felt for two or three generations.” Mark Twain was a Southern man and knew what he was talking about.
The trailer for the movie "Hidden Figures."