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Monday, May 21, 2012

52 Week 21: Booker T Washington - The Scholar

The Great Accomodator
Booker  T. Washington (April 5, 1856 – November 14, 1915) was an American educator, author and leader of the African American community. He is primarily known for founding the Tuskegee Institute. Booker T Washington was one of the last of the slavery era leaders of the pre-Civil rights era.

His experiences as a slave greatly coloured his views. Despite having to work from an early age, he never let his thirst for Knowledge wane and this would serve him well during his life.

He was more moderate in his view of how to attain civil rights and was sometimes accused (particularly by DuBois) of being an accomodationist to the white majority. He advocated vocational schools and other skilled trades for Blacks and I think he deserves a lot of credit for this. Washington argued that the surest way for blacks to gain equal social rights was to demonstrate "industry, thrift, intelligence and property." In this way, he aimed to give his fellow blacks the opportunities to prove their worth in business and other endeavours.

He was heavily criticized for this and I have some sympathy for his position, as he argued that Blacks were heavily outnumbered and that confrontation would lead to disaster. Nevertheless, he still worked tirelessly in various civil rights causes. I admire him most for his advocation of hard and honest work. I’m also a fan of his numerous books, particularly his Autobiography, ‘Up from Slavery’. His focus on education and industry played an important part in the foundation of the civil rights movements of the 1960s. Below, I have excerpted a small portion of his most famous address. The rest can be seen here.
 
                 "There is no defence or security for any of us except in the highest intelligence and development of all. If anywhere there are efforts tending to curtail the fullest growth of the Negro, let these efforts be turned into stimulating, encouraging, and making him the most useful and intelligent citizen. Effort or means so invested will pay a thousand per cent. interest. These efforts will be twice blessed—“blessing him that gives and him that takes.”   
   There is no escape through law of man or God from the inevitable:—
        
The laws of changeless justice bind

  Oppressor with oppressed;

And close as sin and suffering joined

  We march to fate abreast.

He worked tirelessly to lift up all oppressed peoples and for this he is rightfully honoured.

Greatest Quote:
Associate yourself with people of good quality, for it is better to be alone than in bad company.

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