Carolina Negro Farmers and Educational Co-Operative Union of America
Initiation Ritual


On the night of initiation, the President shall appoint a committee of three, including Local secretary, to wait on candidate or candidates, examining said candidates, taking all of their pocket goods, which shall be taken care of until after initiation. After examination, the committee will ask the following questions, using a register or blank book, filling it out as may be ordered by the State or National Union :
Mr. …, we perceive as per your application you are a …, and desire to better your condition in life; also to assist others in doing as well?
You also promise to be obedient to the laws, rules and regulations?
And of course you will attend all meetings unless you are lawfully or providently hindered?
Otherwise you are willing to bear or comply with the penalty of our laws whatever it may be?
The committee shall clothe the candidate’s face in darkness, using closely woven goods, leading him around or into the room prepared for initiation; marching around the room twice (singing) “Jesus may all to Heaven is gone, He who I fixed my hopes upon." Chorus: I am going to join in the Army of the Lord, etc. Stopping at the President's chair, the committee will say: President, we brought to you a friend who claims he desires to better his or their condition in life. He has answered all questions satisfactory.
Mr. ..., by name.
President: Friend, our Union is a secret one. Our motto is to assist in buying and selling; also in educational work; protecting our members in the right, according to the statement of your armor bearers you have fully decided to better your condition in life, complying with all laws, rules, regulations of said Union, or otherwise you are willing to bear the penalty of our laws, as they may be imposed?
Committee will proceed as before around the room twice (singing as before), stopping at the Chaplain, saying: Brother Chaplain, we bring to you a friend who desires to become one of us. He has proved himself worthy thus far.
Chaplain: Friend, my duty is to look after the Spiritual welfare of this Union . Are you a Christian?
Our motto is to extend love to one another, and to help those who need our help. Is that true, brethren?
Union responds: Truly it is.
Is that your desire?
Will you do that?
Brothers, you have heard what these candidates have said, will they do to take in our honorable Union ?
Union brothers respond yes or no.
Do you approve of drinking whiskey or any kind of strong drinks?
Do you wilfully swear if so will you endeavor to stop both of these bad habits and prove to this Union that you are doing so?
Say brothers, God has given you the law: Love ye one another; do as you would wish others do unto you; inasmuch as the Lord has blessed us thus far, my friends and brethren, let us go down in prayer.
The Chaplain will lead in prayer.
After rising from prayer Committee will march around the room twice, singing an appropriate hymn or song, stopping at the Vice-President, saying: Brother Vice-President, we bring to you our beloved friends who have proven themselves worthy brothers of this our honorable body and have been honored by all previous officers.
Vice President will read this: My friends we are trying to carry out the injunction of our Heavenly Father, who said by the sweat of thy face shall thou eat bread, blessed is the man that feareth the Lord; thou shalt eat the labor of thine hand, happy shall thou be, it shall be well with thee, thy wife shall be like a fruitful vine by the side of thine house; thy children shall be like olive plants.
Committee will march around as before, singing, as you march stopping at President, and say: Honorable President, we again bring to you our desired brothers, who have proven themselves worthy by words and by agreeing to comply with our laws, rules, regulations, etc,
President: Dear friend, our Union is a secret one. Our motto is to assist in buying and selling, also in educational work, protecting our members in the right. Now my brother, since you have merited or proved yourself worthy, I will now give you the Grip, Signs, Password, etc.
Hailing and Distress Signs for Daylight: Distressed brother will stand erect, placing his right hand on the fore head; any Union brother seeing him will go to him. The distressed brother will give him his hand; in taking his hand grip it draw the second finger across the palm of the hand twice, saying I am a pilgrim. The opposite brother will answer by pressing his little finger with his thumb and two middle fingers, saying a pilgrim needs consolation, after which such assistance or relief can be given, as needed or agreeable.
Distress Sign at night by words and Returns: Distress brother will say, release a farmer, repeat twice, any Union brother will come to his relief, using the same grip and words as mention or used for day light, by first party, and second party will answer as per day light reply as above mention, after which he will give such assistance possibly needed.
Door Signs for night or day: Any Union brother on stopping at the door will rake down on the door once with one wrap, waiting a few seconds, then repeat as before; then of course the parties on the inside know you are a Union brother, will know you are a Union man before opening the door.
Recognition Sign: Any farmer desiring to find another Union brother farmer will salute by raising his right hand and stroking his right ear, twice, which should be answered by a stroke on the nose twice.
Any Union brother seeing this will of course make his way to the first party, using the same grip that you use in day light, etc.