Joseph Seamon Kotter
This a 1909 poetic ditty by Kentucky educator Joseph Cotter (sometimes considered Black America’s first great poet) criticized the tendency of black “intellectuals” to belittle the economic achievements of the black farmer in contrast to the elites’ own college-bred attainments. He pointed out that many an experienced farmer earned a better livelihood than some college graduates. He wrote*:
Dr. Booker T. Washington to the National Negro Business League
’Tis strange indeed to hear us plead
For selling and for buying
When yesterday we said: “Away
With all good things but dying.”
The world’s ago, and we’re agog
To have our first brief inning;
So let’s away through surge and fog
However slight the winning.
What deeds have sprung from plow and pick!
What bank-rolls from tomatoes!
No dainty crop of rhetoric
Can match one of potatoes.
Ye orators of point and pith,
Who force the world to heed you,
What skeletons you’ll journey with
Ere it is forced to feed you.
A little gold won’t mar our grace,
A little ease our glory.
This world’s a better biding place
When money clinks its story.
*quoted was written by Elizabeth Wright