Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Columns

January 29, 2014

Pat Smith: Pat's second in a series about Greensburg in 1907

Greensburg — This is the second part of a series about events in Greensburg in April 1907.

Last week’s column ended as Dr. Calvin D. Davis wrote that it was an established fact that Greensburg’s African American community in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century contained people of considerable achievement who were respected and liked by their white neighbors. He continued:

“As years passed young people, black and white, found few jobs available in Greensburg. The number of industries grew smaller. Farmers throughout the 1920s and 1930s had inadequate markets and some of them started using machinery which cut down on the need for laborers. African American and whites left. Soon all the African American men were gone. Only a few African American women remained. The situation began to change a few years ago. The market for farm products increased around the world. Factories were built just west of downtown Greensburg and then others were built on the northeastern side.

“At least one factory is owned by a Japanese firm, another by a French firm. Japanese, Chinese, South Asians, Filipinos and African-Americans appeared in Greensburg. It should be noted that some individuals of Asian or African ancestry who are now citizens of Greensburg and Decatur County were here before Honda arrived.

“Racial topics, especially those which concern this country, often cause American historians difficulty. It is easy to offend even when there is no intention or need of offending. For that reason American historians should be careful when dealing with such topics to consider all available evidence. During my last years as a teacher at Duke University I was privileged to have as a colleague the late John Hope Franklin, probably the greatest late twentieth century American historian of black Americans whose wise, compassionate interpretations of history wins the admiration of all who read his books. Franklin was an African-American and a great American citizen.

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