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[Obituary, Charles Waddell Chesnutt]



CHARLES WADDELL CHESNUTT, genial American gentleman and dean of Negro literature in this land, is dead. We have lost a fine intellect, a keen sense of humor and broad tolerant philosophy. Chesnutt was of that group of white folk who because of a more or less remote Negro ancestor identified himself voluntarily with the darker group, studied them, expressed them, defended them, and yet never forgot the absurdity of this artificial position and always refused to admit its logic or its ethical sanction. He was not a Negro; he was a man. But this fact never drove him to the opposite extreme. He did not repudiate persons of Negro blood as social equals and close friends. If his white friends (and he had legion) could not tolerate colored friends they need not come to Mr. Chesnutt's home. If colored friends demanded racial segregation and hatred, he had no patience with them. Merit and friendship in his broad and tolerant mind knew no lines of color or race, and all men, good, bad, and indifferent, were simply men. God rest his beautiful memory.