25 Quotes from Unhyphenated Americans: Booker T. Washington
Booker Taliaferro Washington was born as a slave on April 5, 1856, in Hale’s Ford, VA. Before his untimely death due to hypertension,(high blood pressure) on November 4, 1915, he had risen to become not only one of the most prominent and influential men in all of America, but he was recognized and respected around the world. He was the first Black man to enter the White House through the front door, and to be a “Guest of Honor” and dine with a President of the United States (Theodore Roosevelt) and the First Family.
On July 4, 1881, he became the founding principal of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, which was created not to produce farmers and tradesmen, but to create people who could go out and teach the skills of farming, and teach the trades in the new schools and colleges that would be necessary for Blacks across the South to lift themselves “UP FROM SLAVERY”.
He spent the next 34 years, traveling around the country and world, preaching the message of an Unhyphenated America, and raising funds for his school, and many other schools across the country. Upon his death, Tuskegee Institute had an endowment of approximately $1.5 Million, which would be approximately $34 Million in 2013 dollars, adjusted for inflation.
Here is a collection of twenty-five of some of his most noteworthy quotes:
(1) “I have begun everything with the idea that I could succeed, and I never had much patience with the multitudes of people who are always ready to explain why one cannot succeed.”
(2) “Character, not circumstances, makes the man.”
(3) “The world cares little about what a man knows;it cares more about what a man is able to do.”
(4) “The individual who can do something that the world wants done well, in the end, make his way regardless of his race.”
(5) “At the bottom of education, at the bottom of politics, even at the bottom of religion, there must be for our race economic independence.”
(6) “No man, who continues to add something to the material, intellectual and moral well-being of the place in which he lives, is left long without proper reward.”
(7) “Among a large class, there seemed to be a dependence upon the government for every conceivable thing. The members of this class had little ambition to create a position for themselves, but wanted the federal officials to create one for them.”
(8) “There is another class of coloured people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs — partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.”
(9) “The wisest among my race understand that agitations of social equality is the extremist folly, and that progress in the enjoyment of all privileges that will come to us must be the result of severe and constant struggle rather than of artificial forcing.”
(10) “I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.”
(11) “I have begun everything with the idea that I could succeed, and I never had much patience with the multitudes of people who are always ready to explain why one cannot succeed.”
(12) “The older I grow, the more I am convinced that there is no education which one can get from books and costly apparatus that is equal to that which can be gotten from contact with great men and women.”
(13) “No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem.”
(14) “It is important and right that all privileges of the law be ours, but it is vastly more important that we be prepared for the exercise of those privileges.”
(15) “I learned what education was expected to do for an individual. Before going there I had a good deal of the then rather prevalent idea among our people that to secure an education meant to have a good, easy time, free from all necessity for manual labor. At Hampton I not only learned that it was not a disgrace to labor, but learned to love labor, not alone for its financial value, but for labor’s own sake and for the independence and self-reliance which the ability to do something which the world wants done brings. At that institution I got my first taste of what it meant to live a life of unselfishness, my first knowledge of the fact that the happiest individuals are those who do the most to make others useful and happy.”
(16) “My experience is that people who call themselves “The Intellectuals” understand theories, but they do not understand things. I have long been convinced that, if these men could have gone into the South and taken up and become interested in some practical work which would have brought them in touch with people and things, the whole world would have looked very different to them. Bad as conditions might have seemed at first, when they saw that actual progress was being made, they would have taken a more hopeful view of the situation.”
(17) “I knew that, in a large degree, we were trying an experiment–that of testing whether or not it was possible for Negroes to build up and control the affairs of a large education institution. I knew that if we failed it wold injure the whole race.”
(18) “My experience has been that the time to test a true gentleman is to observe him when he is in contact with individuals of a race that is less fortunate than his own.”
(19) “Too often, it seems to me, in missionary and educational work among underdeveloped races, people yield to the temptation of doing that which was done a hundred years before, or is being done in other communities a thousand miles away. The temptation often is to run each individual through a certain educational mold, regardless of the condition of the subject or the end to be accomplished.”
(20) “A race, like an individual, lifts itself up by lifting others up.”
(21) “The ambition to secure an education was most praiseworthy and encouraging. The idea, however, was too prevalent that, as soon as one secured a little education, in some unexplainable way he would be free from most of the hardships of the world, and, at any rate, could live without manual labour. There was a further feeling that a knowledge, however little, of the Greek and Latin languages would make one a very superior human being, something bordering almost on the supernatural.”
(22) “I have been made to feel sad for such persons because I am conscious of the fact that mere connection with what is known as a superior race will not permanently carry an individual forward unless he has individual worth, and mere connection with what is regarded as an inferior race will not finally hold an individual back if he possesses intrinsic, individual merit. Every persecuted individual and race should get much consolation out of the great human law, which is universal and eternal, that merit, no matter under what skin found, is, in the long run, recognized and rewarded.”
(23) “We do not want the men of another color for our brothers-in-law, but we do want them for our brothers.”
(24) “One man cannot hold another man down in the ditch without remaining down in the ditch with him.”
(25) “We must reinforce argument with results.”
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