On Barbadians And Minding Other People’s Business

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At last the moment has come when the people of Barbados take their rightful place as an independent nation among the nations of the earth. As the future now beckons, there could be no more propitious time than this to seek to evaluate, and thus to understand, something of the nature of the relations of Barbadians to the people and the world round about.

In estimating these relations, it would seem necessary to consider some of the significant contributions made by Barbadians abroad to the countries of their domicile, and to the people of the island whom these exiles left behind, whether by compelling circumstance or by what appeared to be free and deliberate choice. Some brief reference will naturally be made to the contributions of other Caribbeans abroad.

It is often difficult to identify the Barbadian or Caribbean origin of many such migrants. They become so integrated into their new environment abroad, that knowledge of their background has become quite recondite or lost.

Notable contributions have been made by Barbadians in the United States of America beginning with the early Revolutionary period. An impressive figure of those early days was Prince Hall who arrived in Boston, Massachussets, during 1765. He was then 17 years old. Born in Bridgetown, Barbados, the son of a free African mother and an English father, Prince Hall had come to realize that his was a very limited and precarious freedom. For in Barbados, as in Boston at that time, the chattel slave system imposed great misery and degradation upon people of African descent.

Somewhat less onerous, but still quite oppressive, was the system of indentured slavery of Europeans, forced in one way or another into the colonies whether on the mainland or in the islands. Writing of this, the Jesuit priest, Joseph J. Williams, relates how Irish peasants were “hunted down as men hunt down game, and were forcibly put on board ship, and sold to the planters of Barbados.”

This condition of forced labour and shameful indignity was hardly affected or ameliorated by the loud and swelling demands for freedom from British rule. Many insurgent European Americans continued to hold Afro-Americans endurance vile, while proclaiming or hailing the Declaration of Independence of 1776 which declared: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Not until the leaders of the American Revolution found it necessary to counteract Lord Dunmore’s proclamation. offering freedom to persons of African descent who would fight in the ranks of the British army, were those founding fathers of the Republic brought definitely to enlist Afro Americans in the Revolutionary Army. Already recognized as a leader and through his industry and thrift, a property-holder, Prince Hall was among some 5,000 men of African descent who then fought for the independence of the nascent American nation.

After the Revolutionary War, Prince Hall served as a Methodist minister in Cambridge. He blazed the trail in the struggle to secure equal educational facilities for children of African descent. Prince Hall spearheaded the presentation of a Petition to the legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachussets dated October 17, 1787. This Petition declared in part: “as we are willing to pay our equal part of these burdens, we are of the humble opinion that we have the right to enjoy the privileges of freemen.” Though this Petition was not immediately acceded to, it provided the example and furnished the pattern for all such subsequent endeavours, including the massive Civil Rights Movement of our time. In 1798, a school for Afro-American children was established in the home of Prince Hall.

Prince Hall founded the first Masonic Lodge of Afro-Americans in what was soon to become the United States of America. Having been rejected by a masonic Lodge restricted to European-Americans only, Prince Hall applied for admission to an Army Lodge, working under the Grand Lodge of Ireland and attached to the regiment under General Gage stationed near Boston. This application was accepted and Prince Hall and fourteen of his fellowmen were initiated into Lodge No. 441 on March 6, 1775. Ten days later, a licence was issued to Prince Hall and his brothers to function as a Lodge.

On March 3, 1776, a few months before the Declaration of Independence, the Masonic Lodge began to function. Prince Hall then made application on March 2, 1784 for a charter to the Grand Lodge of England which replied granting to the permit. Accordingly, African Lodge No. 459 was set up on May 6, 1787 with Prince Hall as Master in the city of Boston. As a result, by 1840 free-masonry was established in all the important centres of the Afro-American population and has since spread widely throughout the world. Inspired by the success of the Prince Hall Masons, Peter Ogden a native of Jamaica established the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows in New York City during 1843.

Fortunately, there has been preserved a Masonic Sermon preached by Prince Hall: A Charge Delivered to the African Lodge, June 24, 1797, at Menontomy, Mass. Discoursing on “the duty of a mason, and of charity and love to all mankind”, Prince Hall pointed to the daily insults suffered and concluded:

“My brethren, let us not be cast down under these and many other abuses we at present are labouring under, for the darkest hour is just before the break of day. My brethren, let you remember what a dark day it was with our African brethren, six years ago, in the French West Indies. But blessed be God, the scene is changed.”

This change was due to the epoch-making Haitian Revolution. Among the earliest American opponents of the slave trade and slavery, Prince Hall led in presenting the Petition of “a great number of Blacks freedom of this Commonwealth,” against the kidnapping of three men of African ancestry, who had been taken to Martinique where they refused to work as slaves though they were severely beaten. As a result of this protest action, these men who had been spirited away were returned to Boston where they were greeted with joyous celebrations. The state Legislature of Massachussets enacted a strict law with provisions for recovery of damages by any victim of such enslavement.

In this pioneer period of the United States, James G. Barbadoes also made a significant contribution in the struggle for freedom. A prime mover and secretary of the Massachussets General Coloured Association, James G. Barbadoes was among the signers of the letter requesting affiliation with the New England Anti-Slavery Society in 1833. Active in the organization of the American Anti-Slavery Society, Barbadoes appended his signature to the Declaration of Intentions of this Society.

The signing of this Declaration, “come what may to our persons, our interests or our reputations” was no rhetorical gesture, but an act of courage, since pro-slavery violence menaced all who then sought to abolish slavery.

At the convention of the New England Anti-Slavery Society in May 1834, James G. Barbadoes denounced the kidnapping of free men of colour including that of his own brother, Robert H. Barbadoes. The First National Convention of People of Colour, held in Philadelphia in 1830, named James G. Barbadoes on the Provisional Committee for Boston. It is note worthy also that in this early period, poetry written by “A coloured female of the Barbados” was published in The Emancipator of September 27, 1837.

It is now difficult to identify some distinguished Barbadians or other Caribbeans abroad, because it was thought politic at times to forget origin in order to avoid the shafts of prejudice. The question concerning Alexander Hamilton has never been decisively resolved. One of the Federalists who fused the Thirteen Colonies into a nation, and the chief architect of the fiscal policy of the United States, Alexander Hamilton was born in Nevis, where in answer to the inquiries of a biographer, the native people generally responded: “But you know he was coloured.”

A somewhat different case is that of the extraordinary James Chavis, who despite prevailing colour prejudice, achieved a classical education at Princetown, and later conducted a school in which he trained several youths of prominent families in North Carolina. Later, they were to become leaders, senators, and governors. While this educator, John Chavis, is set down as having been born in Granville county, North Carolina, research has revealed the contrary by this statement: “The sons of his old neighbours in that county say that he was born in Haiti, and in his young manhood lived in Jamaica.”

Summing up this early formative period of the United States, none other than the Dean of Afro-American letters, Dr. W. E. B. DuBois in his revealing book, Souls of Black Folk declared: “The free Negroes of the North, inspired by the mulatto immigrants from the West Indies, sought assimilation and amalgamation with the nation “on the same terms with other men”. (Emphasis added R. B. M.) Thus Forten of Philadelphia, Shad of Wilmington, DuBois of New Haven, Barbadoes of Boston, and others, strove singly and together as men, they said, not as slaves, “as people of colour”, not as ‘Negroes’.” The DuBois of New Haven here referred to, was the author’s father, Alfred I. DuBois, who was born in Haiti. His father Alexander DuBois had been born in the Bahamas.

Like the slave name “Negro,” which is recognised above as such by Dr. DuBois, the term mulatto, which also developed out of slavery, is as surely degrading. “Mulatto” is derived from mule, “an animal without pride of origin or hope of posterity, the artificial and sterile product of two different species, the donkey and the horse. This name “mulatto” therefore carries the connotation of unnatural and inferior. But the African and the European, varieties of one and the same human species, quite naturally unite and reproduce their kind continuously, ad infinitum. The assertion that disharmony results from such unions often is wholly unproved. Indeed, there is much evidence to show that such unions often result biologically in reinvigoration, though social ostracism, pressures, and deprivation do sometimes cause unfavourable results.

A notable and unique contribution was that feat of great engineering skill performed by the Barbados-bom Henry Honeychurch Gorringe (1841- 1855), Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy. This feat was none other than the planning and supervising of the removal of the great obelisk from Alexandria to New York, and its re-erection in Central Park where it still stands. Originally, one of two obelisks erected in Heliopolis Egypt during the reign of Thutmosis III (1501-1448 B.C.E.), this obelisk had been removed by the Romans about 22 B.C.E. to Alexandria.

An account written by Gorringe of the transportation of this obelisk along with information on obelisks generally, is still considered as the standard work in the field. This obelisk, now known popularly as “Cleopatra’s Needle,” weighs 193 tons. The Harvard historian of science, George Sarton, to whom we are indebted for this account, comments in A History of Science that:

“The erections directed by Fontana in 1586 and Gorringe in 1881 were talked about as nine-day wonders, and yet these men were but repeating a part of the work that their Egyptian forerunners had done thousands of years earlier. Each one of the exile obelisks is an almost imperishable monument to the glory of ancient Egypt.”

Destined to make a signal contribution to the maintenance and development of the Republic of Liberia was Arthur Barclay, who came as a boy of 11 during 1865 with his father and brother among a group of some 346 immigrants from Barbados. Barclay soon rose to become a professor in Liberia College, to be recognized as leader of the Bar in Monrovia, and to serve in three cabinet positions before his election to the presidency in 1904. In his first inaugural address, President Barclay stressed the necessity of developing the interior and of integrating the Indigenous Peoples into the Republic.

President Barclay took office when the weak and struggling Republic of Liberia was already under severe pressures from both Britain and France. These pressures were heightened when English forces, brought in at the request of the Liberian government to quell a tribal conflict in the north western area, laid claim to aggressive claim on the pretext of “Effective occupancy” and the inability of Liberia to defend this territory. All that President Barclay’s envoy, Charles D. B. King could obtain through negotiation was “a money payment of about $20,000, as a refund of part of what the coastal territory earlier seized by Sierra Leone (then ruled by the British) had cost the Liberians, an obvious confession by the British of their former aggression.” Not to be outdone, France again seized a considerable part of Liberia’s territory by force.
A new British loan of £100,000 was forced upon Liberia by Harry H. Johnson in connection with a scheme for development of the interior. As manipulated by British financiers, only a small fraction of this loan ever reached the treasury of Liberia. Two-thirds of this loan was allocated to a British-controlled Liberian Development Company. When President Barclay required an accounting, the English director expressed great surprise. Meanwhile, English officials had taken charge of the Liberian customs, and led by a Major Caddell who had been asked by the Liberian government to organize a frontier force, the British were fast taking over control of Liberia.

On February 3, 1909, a British warship the Mutiny appeared off Monrovia, the capital of Liberia. Only through very skilful diplomacy on the part of President Barclay and his cabinet, which involved bringing in the United States to offset Britain and France, was it possible to avert war and outright seizure, and thus to preserve some measure of the independence of Liberia. Though serving in this highly critical period, President Barclay’s administration was so popularly endorsed that near the close of his second term, the tenure of the presidency was increased from two to four years, so that this president served until 1912.
Edwin James Barclay, a nephew of former president Arthur Barclay, became president of Liberia in December 1930, during an even more critical period. The preceding president, Charles D. B. King, had been forced to resign because of his willingness to accede to the proposals of an International Commission of Enquiry which threatened the sovereignty of Liberia. Full recognition was withheld by both Britain and the U.S.A. who dealt at first only de facto with President Edwin J. Barclay. This president, however, chose the difficult but sagacious course of striving to carry out all possible reforms, while resisting any encroachments upon the independence of Liberia.

The British government sought backing from the United States government in the attempts to force the Liberian government to accede to the recommendations of the Brunot Commission of the League of Nations Committee. These proposals, set forth as a “Plan of Assistance,” would have doubled the operation expenses and saddled the Liberian government with even greater debt. More disastrously, this so-called “Plan of Assistance” would have put Liberia under the political control of alien “Advisors,” with power to dictate to Liberian officials from the President on down.

The shocking but enlightening record of these attempts made by the British government to end all independent rule by Africans in their own land has been set down by R. Earle Anderson in the book Liberia, America’s Friend. Through astute political statesmanship and fiscal policy, President Edwin Barclay succeeded in overcoming the crisis. The analyst Anderson, just mentioned, wrote of this “courageous and patient Chief Executive: “He had outmanoeuvred Sir John Simon and his colleagues. He had kept the sovereignty of Liberia.” President Barclay served ably until 1944. In other political offices, like Ernest Barclay as Secretary of State, as well as in many other important fields of endeavour, many persons of Barbadian origin have rendered signal and useful service to Liberia.

In the period after the Civil War in the U.S.A., a contribution at once outstanding and typical, was that rendered by D. Augustus Straker, particularly in the education of the recently emancipated freedmen. Born in Barbados in 1842, the son of John and Margaret Straker, the genius of this extraordinary man was foreshadowed when he became principal of St. Mary’s School at the age of seventeen. Among his instructors was Joseph Nathaniel Durant, an accomplished educator and linguist, and the father of the Rev. E. Elliot Durant, founder of St. Ambrose Protestant Episcopal Church in New York City.

An urgent call for teachers of African descent to instruct the newly emancipated had been sent from the U.S.A. by Bishop Smith of the Protestant Episcopal Church. Hearing this plea voiced in a sermon by the Dean of Codrington College, young Straker was moved to respond affirmatively, unselfishly giving up the opportunity which had been offered him to study law in England.

On arriving in the United States in 1868, David Augustus Straker applied himself to teaching in Louisville, Kentucky under the auspices of the Freemen’s Bureau. Later, inspired by John Mercer Langston, Straker turned again to law and graduated with honor from Howard University Law School in 1871. After serving in appointments such as Inspector of Customs at Charleston, S.C., he began the practice of law in 1876 and was elected to the South Carolina state legislature from Orangeburg county. Ejected from his seat by prejudiced white supremacist Democrats, he was re-elected twice, but nevertheless denied his seat by force.
D. Augustus Straker then entered into law partnership with a brilliant and eloquent Afro-American leader of Caribbean parentage, Robert Brown Elliott, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives of South Carolina, Attorney General of the State, and Representative in Congress. In 1882, Mr. Straker was appointed dean and professor of law at Allen University in Columbia S.C.

Nominated by the Republican State Convention for Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina, D. Augustus Straker could not participate in the election campaign, since the ticket was abandoned by the Republican State Executive Committee. This Committee, yielding to threats of violence. then entered into collusion with the Lily White Democrats, who by fraud and bloody error, disfranchised people of African descent at the close of the so-called Reconstruction Period, in total disregard of the Constitution of the United States and of every principle of democracy and justice.

Nevertheless Dr. Straker, by his eloquence and indomitable spirit, continued to champion the rights of the oppressed. After removing to Detroit, D. Augustus Straker published a keen analysis and political exposure: The New South Investigated. An earlier lecture on Citizenship, Its Rights and Duties: Woman Suffrage was then followed by three treatises on several phases of law. A trip to the Windward Islands recorded his findings and demonstrated his lasting interest in the Caribbean, where he was born and reared.

Together with Richard T. Greener and Joseph Dickinson, D. Straker founded the National Association of Coloured Men in 1896. The Memorial to Congress of this body showed it to have been a spirited forerunner of the Niagara Movement, inspired by Dr. DuBois, which gave rise later to the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People. A motto of Dr. Strake might well be quoted here:

“Attempt the end and never stand to doubt,
Nothing’s so hard, but search will find it out.”

Hundreds of trained teachers went out from Barbados, throughout the length and breadth of the Caribbean and helped to lay the foundations of education in these areas. An eminent example is the well-known A. A. Thorne who went to British Guiana now since its independence, Guyana. We cannot do better than to quote the account given by fellow educator, N. E. Cameron, Principal of the Guianese Academy, in the second volume of his enlightening work on The Evolution of the Negro:

“The ‘Middle School’ started in the middle nineties as a private class in an elementary school under Mr. A.A. Thorne, (M.A. Dunelm). Under its ambitious and capable master, it grew into a large and highly recognized school, obtaining a large number of successes in various English examinations. The school also introduced additional features in local secondary education, e.g. the Teaching of Book-Keeping, the holding of the College Preceptors’ Examinations regular visits from prominent citizens who would address the school etc. Further through his influence and activities, not only were dark girls enabled to reach a high standard in secondary education, but also a few were able to secure employment in commercial circles and in Government Civil Service.”

To the foregoing, there need only be added that this able educator Albert A. Thorne was quite a militant force in Guianese politics, and that his consciousness of the African heritage prompted him to promote the African Colonial Enterprise for the purpose of transporting people of African descent to aid in the development of Central Africa. A. A. Thorne was thus among several, including the Jamaican Robert Campbell, who preceded the more widely known campaign for African redemption led by the remarkable propagandist Marcus Garvey, President General of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, who was born in Jamaica.

Thousands of Barbadians contributed to the building of the organization led by Marcus Garvey. Among these were Rabbi Arnold J. Forde, composer of its national anthem; the band leader William Isles; the lawyer and propagandist Lester Taylor; Arden A. Bryan who made representations to several governments.
Of a new and modern order was the contribution made by Hubert Critchlow, the son of a Barbadian emigrant to Guiana. The British Guiana Labor Union, founded by Critchlow, led the way in the organization of working people to protect and to advance their interests in respect to adequate wages and good working conditions. In the Virgin Islands, a long struggle had to be waged to establish an organized and effective labour movement under the leadership of Hamilton Jackson. A clergyman from Barbados, the Rev. Reginald Grant Barrow rendered uncommon service in this endeavour, editing a newspaper in the interests of labour and sacrificing considerable personal funds. Repressive pressures caused this leader to move on to New York where he organized and became Archbishop and African Exarch of the Orthodox Church of Brooklyn.

The mention of Panama brings to the fore such work as that of the teacher Thomas, who founded the only school with instruction in English of a very high standard. Barbadian also, was Preston Stoute, the leader of a strike for better conditions for working people. The thousands of toilers, who had migrated mainly from Barbados and Jamaica, made a colossal contribution to the building of the Panama Canal.
Born in Panama of Barbadian father and a St. Lucian mother is Dr. George W. Westerman, the first Panamanian Ambassador of African ancestry to the United Nations, and a staunch advocate of freedom from colonial rule for the Caribbean and African peoples. Dr. Westerman is a member of the Panamanian National Committee on the United Nations Economic and Social Commission. Editor and publisher of the Panama Tribune, which has championed human rights since 1928, Dr. George W. Westerman published the booklet Toward a Better Understanding. Dr Westerman has been deputed by the government of Barbados to act as arbitrator in respect to moneys of Barbadians in Panama which have become involved in controversy.

Here The British government sought backing from the United States government in the attempts to force the Liberian government to accede to the recommendations of the Brunot Commission of the League of Nations Committee. These proposals, set forth as a “Plan of Assistance,” would have doubled the operation expenses and saddled the Liberian government with even greater debt. More disastrously, this so-called “Plan of Assistance” would have put Liberia under the political control of alien “Advisors,” with power to dictate to Liberian officials from the President on down.

The shocking but enlightening record of these attempts made by the British government to end all independent rule by Africans in their own land has been set down by R. Earle Anderson in the book Liberia, America’s Friend. Through astute political statesmanship and fiscal policy, President Edwin Barclay succeeded in overcoming the crisis. The analyst Anderson, just mentioned, wrote of this “courageous and patient Chief Executive:” “He had outmanoeuvred Sir John Simon and his colleagues. He had kept the sovereignty of Liberia.” President Barclay served ably until 1944. In other political offices, like Ernest Barclay as Secretary of State, as well as in many other important fields of endeavour, many persons of Barbadian origin have rendered signal and useful service to Liberia.

In the period after the Civil War in the U.S.A., a contribution at once outstanding and typical, was that rendered by D. Augustus Straker. particularly in the education of the recently emancipated freedmen. Born in Barbados in 1842, the son of John and Margaret Straker, the genius of this extraordinary man was foreshadowed when he became principal of St. Mary’s School at the age of seventeen. Among his instructors was Joseph Nathaniel Durant, an accomplished educator and linguist and the father of the Rev. E. Elliot Durant, founder of St. Ambrose Protestant Episcopal Church in New York City.

An urgent call for teachers of African descent to instruct the newly emancipated had been sent from the U.S.A. by Bishop Smith of the Protestant Episcopal Church. Hearing this plea voiced in a sermon by the Dean of Codrington College, young Straker was moved to respond affirmatively, unselfishly giving up the opportunity which had been offered him to study law in England.

On February 3, 1909, a British warship the Mutiny appeared off Monrovia, the capital of Liberia. Only through very skilful diplomacy on the part of President and his cabinet, which involved bringing in the United States to off set Britain and France, was it possible to avert war and outright seizure, and thus to preserve some measure of the independence of Liberia. Though serving in this highly critical period, President Barclay’s administration was so popularly endorsed that near the close of his second term, the tenure of the presidency was increased from two to four years, so that this president served until 1912.
Edwin James Barclay, a nephew of former president Arthur Barclay, became president of Liberia in December 1930, during an even more critical period. The preceding president, Charles D. B. King, had been forced to resign because of his willingness to accede to the proposals of an International Commission of Enquiry which threatened the sovereignty of Liberia. Full recognition was withheld by both Britain and the U.S A. who dealt at first only de facto with President Edwin J. Barclay. This president, however, chose the difficult but sagacious course of striving to carry out all possible reforms while resisting any encroachments upon the independence of Liberia.

On arriving in the United States in 1868, David Augustus Straker applied himself to teaching in Louisville. Kentucky under the auspices of the Freemen’s Bureau. Later, inspired by John Mercer Langston, Straker turned again to law and graduated with honor from Howard University Law School in 1871. After serving in appointments such as Inspector of Customs at Charleston, S.C., he began the Practice of law in 1876 and was elected to the South Carolina state legislature from Orangeburg county. Ejected from his seat by prejudiced white supremacist Democrats, he was re-elected twice, but nevertheless denied his seat by force.

D. Augustus Straker then entered into law partnership with a brilliant and eloquent Afro-American leader of Caribbean parentage, Robert Brown Elliott, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives of South Carolina, Attorney General of the State, and Representative in Congress. In 1882, Mr. Straker was appointed dean and professor of law at Allen University in Columbia S.C.

Nominated by the Republican State Convention for Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina, D. Augustus Straker could not participate in the election campaign, since the ticket was abandoned by the Republican State Executive Committee. This Committee, yielding to threats of violence. then entered into collusion with the Lily White Democrats, who by fraud and bloody error, disfranchised people of African descent at the close of the so-called Reconstruction Period, in total disregard of the Constitution of the United States and of every principle of democracy and justice.

Nevertheless Dr. Straker, by his eloquence and indomitable spirit, continued to champion the rights of the oppressed. After removing to Detroit, D. Augustus Straker published a keen analysis and political exposure: The New South Investigated. An earlier lecture on Citizenship Its Rights and Duties:Woman Suffrage was then followed by three treatises on several phases of law. A trip to the Windward Islands recorded his findings and demonstrated his lasting interest in the Caribbean where he was born and reared.

Together with Richard T. Greener and Joseph Dickinson, D. Straker founded the National Association of Coloured Men in 1896. The Memorial to Congress of this body showed it to have been a spirited forerunner of the Niagara Movement, inspired by Dr. DuBois, which gave rise later to the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People. A motto of Dr. Strake might well be quoted here:

Attempt the end and never stand to doubt,
Nothing’s so hard, but search will find it out.

Hundreds of trained teachers went out from Barbados, throughout the length and breadth of the Caribbean and helped to lay the foundations of education in these areas. An eminent example is the well-known A. A. Thorne who went to British Guiana now since its independence, Guyana. We cannot do better than to quote the account given by fellow educator, N. E. Cameron, Principal of the Guianese Academy, in the second volume of his enlightening work on The Evolution of the Negro:

The “Middle School” started in the middle nineties as a private class in an elementary school under Mr. A.A. Thorn Dunelm. Under its ambitious and capable master, it grew into a large and highly recognized school, obtaining a large number of successes in various English examinations. The school also introduced additional features in local secondary education, e.g. the Teaching of Book-Keeping, the holding of the College Preceptors’ Examinations regular visits from prominent citizens who would address the school etc. Further through his influence and activities, not only were dark girls enabled to reach a high standard in secondary education, but. On arriving in the United States in 1868, David Augustus Straker applied himself to teaching in Louisville. Kentucky under the auspices of the Freemen’s Bureau. Later, inspired by John Mercer Langston, Straker turned again to law and graduated with honor from Howard University Law School in 1871. After serving in appointments