An African American man delivers a political address to an attentive audience in this engraving published in the July 25, 1868, edition of Harper's Weekly. The accompanying text in the magazine describes the scene:
The illustration … is one of the most significant possible. It shows the newly-enfranchised citizens of the United States engaged in the discussion of political questions upon which they are to vote; and however crude the arguments of the orator may be, they can not be more so than those which may be heard every evening in the clubs of the "superior race" in the city of New York. The scene is wholly characteristic. The eager attention of the listeners, and the evidently glib tongue of the speaker, reveal that remarkable adaptability and readiness so observable in the colored race. They take naturally to peaceful and lawful forms; they are naturally eloquent; and instead of scoffing loftily at them as incompetent, their white brethren will find it necessary to bestir themselves, or the "incompetent" class will be the better educated and more successful. Does any man seriously doubt whether it is better for this vast population to be sinking deeper and deeper in ignorance and servility, or rising into general intelligence and self-respect?
The artist, William Ludwell Sheppard, was a Virginia native and a Confederate veteran.