The first four chapters of this booklet comprise a series of Sunday evening lecture sermons delivered in St. John's A. M. E. Church, Cleveland, Ohio, in the month of April, 1894.
They are published at the urgent request of scores of persons who heard them delivered. They were delivered extemporaneously, as all my sermons are, and appear here as they were taken down by the stenographers. No revision has been attempted. The intelligent reader will readily detect many imperfections both in matter and style. They were not given with a view to exhaustive treatment or literary excellence, but for the encouragement and inspiration of the young people of my congregation. If, appearing in this form, these lectures reach a larger audience and strengthen the faith of any who are loosing confidence in the future progress of my race, I shall be abundantly repaid for the small labor they have cost me.
The last chapter of this book, entitled "The Fifteenth Amendment," was delivered in response to a toast at the Lincoln Banquet, held at Columbus, Ohio, February 14, 1893, under the auspices of The Ohio Republican League. It is given here because it harmonizes with the subject which gives title to this book. We have not sought in these pages to give a solution to the "race problem," for after all attempts at solution it remains the great unsettled question of our times. But we believe that our youth, by "taking advantage of their disadvantages," and improving the opportunities at hand, can do much to overcome the impediments by which our pathway has been so long beset.