William Sanders Scarborough (1852-1926) was one of the most outstanding of outstanding Black American intellectuals of the 19th and early 20th centuries, individual scholars who, because of the dire predicament of Black Americans, assumed all the roles a Black professional person could fill: writer, educator, professor, administrator, civil rights advocate and leader . . .Scarborough was born into slavery and rose to become a leading scholar of the Greek and Latin classics and president of Wilberforce University.
Scarborough was resurrected from the forgetfulness of history with the publication of two books, edited by Michele Valerie Ronnick: The Autobiography of William Sanders Scarborough: An American Journey From Slavery to Scholarship (2005) and The Works of William Sanders Scarborough: Black Classicist and Race Leader (2006).
In 2010, in the course of preparing a lecture on the 100th anniversary of the Universal Esperanto Congress in Washington, DC, in addition to researching the mainstream American press for relevant articles, I decided to search the databases of the Black press for reports on Esperanto and the quest for an international language. Here are the articles on Volapük, now on my web site:
I found another reference to Volapük in Scarborough's Works. Here is the quote with the bibliographical information on the original publication. Note also that this article was written in the heat of the imperialist scramble to carve up Africa:
The influence of civilization is a mighty lever in shaping the destiny of language. Dialects crumble before it, and the diversity of tongues drifts toward unity. The language of the intelligent must supersede, wholly or in part, that of the unintelligent wherever they come in contact, either by displacing it or fashioning it after its own mold. As the weaker languages and dialects of Europe have disappeared before the light of intelligence, so will the languages and dialects of Africa drop out of existence, one by one, it may be, as the same influence shall quicken and permeate the people. One by one will the stronger swallow up the weak, until the speech of the dominant people shall prevail, jargon first, perhaps, extinction later. Doubtless many more dialects than now exist have passed away, some of them leaving not a relic behind to tell the story of their existence, while of others bare skeletons of speech may be found here and there, but hardly enough to indicate their linguistic relations. The forces that produced these changes are still at work, but in a greater degree; and, though we can make no definite statement as to the results growing out of the invasion of Africa by foreign languages, yet again we believe that the inflectional will survive the uninflectional languages of the world. No artificial language can stand the test of time. In fact, it will hardly gain a foothold, but like Volapük, will die in its infancy. 5 [footnote clarifying Volapük]
SOURCE: Works, p. 242. Original source: "Function and future of foreign languages in Africa," Methodist Review 76, November-December 1894, pp. 890-899.