Master of Arts (MA)
Oberlin (OH), Negro, Community, Abolitionism, America, Harlem
In every library of any standing there exists today and since the days of abolitionism a vast number of books and pamphlets dealing with the negro in America. Some treat of his virtues, some of his faults; some are sentimental, some harsh; nearly all discuss him as a race With emphasis on racial characteristics and racial possibilities. Only recently has the scientific spirit invaded the field sufficiently to reveal the possibility of honest progress through the specific study of concrete situations. As I write there lies on my table the March issue of the Survey Graphic devoted to "Harlem! Mecca of the New Negro." Slowly we are appreciating that our knowledge of social science like our knowledge of physical science will advance only with the painstaking analysis of each contributing factor.
I have undertaken a study of the Negro in Oberlin, therefore, not with the expectation of contributing anything of particular value to Oberlin or to the colored man who lives here, but with the hope that a collection and an analysis of the vital factors in the life and the development of the negro community here, in so far as it is possible for me to ascertain and interpret these factors, will find a place, however small, in the sincere effort to build a comprehension of social affairs on a foundation of facts.
Oberlin offers a laboratory for such a study which is unique but not abnormal. It is unique in that the history of the relation of both town end college to the negro has been extraordinary in its ideals and purposes. It is typical nevertheless in that the outworking of these ideals has been that of any average town of its size and potentiality. Almost from the outset Oberlin has stood for justice and equality of opportunity for every man regardless of color. With the granting of the opportunity, its responsibilities for the most part have ended. We have no Utopia to observe, therefore, but a very ordinary town with ordinary problems, the usual successes and the usual failures, such as might be repeated in any locality in almost any state in the country.
Fairchild, Mildred, "The Negro in Oberlin" (1925). Honors Papers. 809.