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Booker T. Washington

on January 24th, 2018 by admin

It is always important to recognize forgotten American heroes.  Especially during this anti-heroic period we are living in.  One such hero played a pivotal role in post-antebellum southern society.  Booker T. Washington was that figure.  Born into slavery in Virginia, Washington was able to reach the highest levels of American society.  His autobiography Up From Slavery details his struggles and triumphs.  This should be required reading for every American.

Despite emancipation, Washington still had to contend with racism.  However, he never let this deter him from achieving his goals.  With the establishment of the Tuskegee Institute, Washington’s goal was not only to educate former slaves, but to educate the next generation of young black men and women.  At one point, the Institute even enrolled Native Americans.  In order to build the strength of character of his students, Washington conceived of Tuskegee as not only developing the intellect of the student but also acquiring skills through manual labor.  The students constructed the campus buildings, cultivated crops, and raised farm animals.

To best summarize what why I believe Washington is an American hero, I will let him speak for himself.  Upon receiving an honorary degree from Harvard University Washington stated his philosophy on life and what he sees as the future of black Americans.  He states:

“If my life in the past has meant anything in the lifting up of my people and the bringing about of better relations between our race and mine, I assure you from this day it will mean doubly more.  In the economy of God there is but one standard by which an individual can succeed-there is but one for a race.  This country demands that every race shall measure itself by the American standard.  By it a race must rise or fall, succeed or fail, and in the last analysis mere sentiment counts for little.  During the next half-century and more, my race must continue passing through the server American crucible.  We are to be tested in our patience, our forbearance, our perseverance, our power to endure wrong, to withstand temptations, to economize, to acquire and use skill; in our ability to compete, to succeed in commerce, to disregard the superficial for the, the appearance for the substance, to be great and yet small, learned and yet simple, high and yet the servant of all.”(Bold added)

Bookish Babe

Tags: , , , , , | Posted in Autobiography, History

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