The Condition, Elevation, Emigration, and Destiny of the Colored People...Martin Delany

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Proud and defiant, Martin Robinson Delany (1812-1885) was the quintessential nineteenth century Black activist. Delany was multigifted. He used his talents to live a full life as a physician, army officer, author, politician, journalist, abolitionist, and pioneer Black nationalist. Among his writings, The Condition, Elevation, Emigration, and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States is often considered his seminal and most controversial work. It was first published in 1852, a time of intense conflict between proslavery and antislavery forces. Delany used The Condition, Elevation, Emigration to analyze this conflict and its probable solution. Crafting a skillful argument, he attacked slavery and the subjugation of Black people. To underscore the capacity of Blacks to live as equals, he recorded their achievements in business, agriculture, literature, the military, and other professions. Concluding that Blacks would never be allowed to coexist with whites, Delany completed his analysis by suggesting possible locations for Black emigration. He wrote, "We are a nation within a nation...We must go from our oppressors." The republication of The Condition, Elevation, Emigration, and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States provides an opportunity to critically examine Delany's views as representative of early Black nationalist thinking.