By Bernard Jaffe
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Extra resources for Men of Science in America
S. place was futile for blacks; his efforts to challenge and cross borders emerged as one of the fundamental points of difference between himself and Douglass in their debates on black leadership and community. Page 16 The two leaders were not always at odds. In Chapter 1 I examine Delany's and Douglass's coeditorship of the North Star, focusing on Delany's travel letters to Douglass, which I regard as a major "text" of the period. At this point in their careers the coeditors shared much in common on the value of pursuing black elevation in the United States.
According to Delany, Moses, as "the recorder of the Bible," is the person to whom "we as Masons, and the world of mankind . . " Masons owe their beginnings, grandiose purposes, and perpetuity to a ''fugitive slave" who, Delany argues, gained "all his wisdom and ability" in Egypt, "a colony from Ethiopia," and then transmitted his wisdom to subsequent generations, whose literate leaders persisted in recording and transmitting Masonic truths to the present day. 15 In his lectureand indeed in his entire careerDelany conceives of himself in the tradition of Moses, as one of those wise leaders whose very knowledge is linked to an Africanist pride in black origins and objects.
In a key moment in the speech, Delany asserts that "to deny to black men the privileges of Masonry, is to deny to a child the lineage of its own parentage. " He thus demands rhetorically: "Was it not Africa that gave birth to Euclid, the master geometrician of the world? " By the logic of his argument, white civilization itself has developed from Page 9 and is dependent on black civilization. Such an argument "legitimates" blacks' place not only in Freemasonry but also in the Western cultures that attempt to exclude and degrade them.
Men of Science in America by Bernard Jaffe