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On Africans in America and the Overground Railroad

“We mentioned the ‘Underground Railroad‘ as something that benefited the race; but we have its successor in the way of transportation that is reaping profit from that benefit.

That successor is the ‘Overground Railroad.’ It is a system of transportation such as the world has never seen or used.

You ask: “What is an ‘Overground Railroad’?” Everybody can answer, or thinks he can, so he says: “Why, it is a railroad that runs over the land and transports passengers and freight.” But the answer does not hit the mark, for this particular Overground exercises a mightier power; possesses a wider influence than the mere haulage of passengers and freight.

It carries opportunity, activity, benefit, incentive, intelligence, knowledge, and progress to every corner of this great land and into every town, village, city, hamlet, even the cross-roads are reached. It reaches every one of ten millions of a great race that less than two decades ago were forbidden opportunity, and compelled to travel over the ‘Underground Railroad.’ Now, everything belonging to the great mass of mankind, or to which they are entitled or may aspire, is parceled out with lavish hand to all who wish to take. The effort is yours, the prize awarded you.”–Kelly Miller and Joseph Gay, 1913

From: Progress and Achievements of the Colored Race, pp. 108-109.

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