Chapter Two: “What Have You To Say”

With the completion of chapter one of my thesis, I move on to the introduction (backwards I know) and chapter two, the biography of Rachel Flowers.

Rachel Flowers-low res

Photo Source: Messiah College Archives

This image first introduced me to my research. Messiah College archivist placed the image’s date between 1916 to 1918, the years of her enrollment. I am unsure of the building–either Old Main or the old schoolhouse. In a focus on her educational activism and the familial resistances, I am excited to write this chapter.


It may just be me, but if I do not have that #dropthemic title, I cannot write a paper until I do. In an examination of her writings, I look to take a quote which captures her essence and activism, but nothing has struck out to me yet. The current working title comes from her newspaper article headings.

“What Have You to Say” by Rachel Helen Flowers, Philadelphia Tribune, 1932.

To the Editor of the Tribune:

    The old proverb, “Strike while the iron is hot,” is as full of truth today as in the days of old. It is quiet obvious that the seed of prejudice was sown by the Board of Education when Negroes were appointed to teach in school comprised only of Negro children. The acceptance of these positions was the acceptance of segregated schools.    

     What was done? Nothing. The 134,229 Negros in Philadelphia sat languidly be waiting for something to happen. And at last, the inevitable has happened.

    Undoubtedly, the Board also waited until this pill was well digested, and since there was no noticeable reaction a second and worse attempt is made to dupe the public into the belief that the Negro teacher’s limitation is the 6th grade.

    Today, the Negro population in Philadelphia is 219,599, an increase of 63.6 percent since 1920. What is going to be done about this most outrageous injustice that is being dealt to these Negroes? Cooperation is the remedy. Cooperation, in the near future, as it has not in the long past, must solve this and many other unsolved Negro problems. Cooperation, to the extent that we will fight for the rights that belong to us as American citizens, but which are denied to us because of color. But such cooperation, to be fruitful, demands intelligent, leadership, courage, and enthusiasm.

    The theory, “The best interest of the Negro children is served under the Negro teacher,” (quoting Jas A. Newby in a recent  issue in this column) is all the “bunk” and only tends toward greater discrimination. On the contrary, the best interest of the American children is served under the efficient teacher, irrespective of race or color. The Negro teacher will then be given the proper place. The competent Negro will be appointed to teach, not only in colored schools, but in mixed, junior, and senior  high schools and colleges in Philadelphia and elsewhere.

    The poisonous venom of prejudice is largely practiced in schools. Hence, if we will oust segregation from the school system , segregation as a whole is doomed.

    However, the conclusions show with unmistakable clearness, when the minds of youth are instilled with the idea that the government of this country exists for the protection and preservation of the people– the things to which we are so bitterly opposed– segregated schools, segregated politics, and segregated movies, will dissolve, as it were, into utter oblivion. “

Rachel H. Flowers

Current Outline (Processing “out loud”)

  1. Introduction
  2.  Early Years in Florida (1900-1913)
  3. The Great Migration (1913)
  4. Education at Boiling Springs High School (1913-1915)
  5. Integration of Messiah College (1916-1918)
  6. Career as a teacher (1920-1928)
  7. Father’s death and Second “Migration to Philadelphia” (1928)
  8. Fight for equal education (1931-1933)
  9. Participation in Social and Civil Rights Organization (NCNW, NAACP, ASALH)
  10. Later years and family life (transitions into final chapter-her niece’s biography)

Primary sources from: Pennsylvania State Archives, Schomburg Center, and Messiah College Archives.

Let the fun begin:)



Blog at

%d bloggers like this: