Trotter’s Tribute To His Mother / VIRGINIA ISAACS TROTTER / April 25, 1842—October 16, 1919 / MOTHER /
Mother love she had for her children in all its tenderness and sternness, in all its earnestness and pleasantry, in all its ambitiousness and indulgence, in all its love and leniency, yet with hope and strong appeal for their rectitude and achievement.
As all real mothers do, she labored for them and with them, holding high the standard for private life and public attitude. Born in her [line or lines evidently left out] from her saintly mother was her devotion to God and to moral ideals, and from her father, Tucker Isaacs, brave devotion to liberty and equality without the insult of restriction because of color. Her husband held racial self-respect and assertion of rights above all else.
Thus it was she taught her son to stand against any denial of right because of race as a principle of self-respect. It was not strange she encouraged him when he entered the lists against race discrimination as only a true mother can, daily offered him cheer and confidence, and backed him for organ and organization with her earthly means. The strength she gave him in the battle never can be his as when she maintained her aid and interest until heart and mind were stilled by death itself. That her sacrifice may not have been in vain we fight on. God give us strength and success and give her bliss above.
Her son, / WM. MONROE TROTTER. October 16, 1930. (Philadelphia Tribune, 7 Apr. 1932)
After a while he became interested in politics. He ran for the Board of Education once and didn’t win. In 1918, he ran for Assemblyman and people thought he was crazy, but he was elected. He was there for 16 years, four terms. He was the first black elected to an official position in the state of California. He was the first black elected to a state office west of the Mississippi….
He didn’t like the word “Negro.” He used the term “Americans of African descent.” He wanted to stress the fact that we were Americans and should be treated as Americans. Whereas most newspapers would say, “another Negro lynched,” his newspaper would say, “another American lynched.” (Pearl Roberts typescript autobiography, Roberts Collection, African American Museum and Library at Oakland)
In the south, the policy of white toward Negro is one of suppression and antagonism. Once the issue of social equality is raised, the whole American idea of fair play is laid aside in favor of mob force and lynching bees. The result is that our national tranquility is shaken to the roots, and the very life of American ideals is threatened.
In the west, on the other hand, the athletic ideal governs the relation between the races. Here the American idea of fair play prevails. The race issue is never present in politics, but rather Negro and Caucasian vote on all questions from a moral and purely objective viewpoint.
The problem of racial disorder in the south is not a Negro problem, but a purely American one. If in one corner of the land law and order may be set aside to favor the passions of a group, why is it not feasible to do the same thing in other parts of the country? Thus the very existence of the principles, upon which our nation was founded are at stake. (San Jose Evening News, 2 Sep. 1922)
“I wonder if anybody in all this great world ever thought to consider man’s rights as an individual, by his status as a father? yet you ask me to say something about ‘Votes for Mothers,’ as if mothers were a separate and peculiar people. After all, I think you are not so far wrong. Mothers are different, or ought to be different, from other folk. The woman who smilingly goes out, willing to meet the Death Angel, that a child may be born, comes back from that journey, not only the mother of her own adored babe, but a near-mother to all other children. As she serves that little one, there grows within her a passion to serve humanity; not race, not class, not sex, but God’s creatures as he has sent them to earth.
It is not strange that enlightened womanhood has so far broken its chains as to be able to know that to perform such service, woman should help both to make and to administer the laws under which she lives, should feel responsible for the conduct of educational systems, charitable and correctional institutions, public sanitation and municipal ordinances in general. Who should be more competent to control the presence of bar rooms and ‘red-light districts’ than mothers whose sons they are meant to lure to degradation and death? Who knows better than the girl’s mother at what age the girl may legally barter her own body? Surely not the men who have put upon our statute books, 16, 14, 12, aye be it to their eternal shame, even 10 and 8 years, as ‘the age of consent!’
If men could choose their own mothers, would they choose free women or bondwomen? Disfranchisement because of sex is curiously like disfranchisement because of color. It cripples the individual, it handicaps progress, it sets a limitation upon mental and spiritual development. I grow in breadth, in vision, in the power to do, just in proportion as I use the capacities with which Nature, the All-Mother, has endowed me. I transmit to the child who is bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh and thought of my thought; somewhat of my own power or weakness. Is not the voice which is crying out for ‘Votes for Mothers’ the Spirit of the Age crying out for the Rights of Children?” (The Crisis, 10, August 1915)