Booker T Washington
Booker Taliaferro Washington (April 5, 1856 – November 14, 1915) was an educator, author, orator, and advisor to presidents of the United States and was a black man. Between 1890 and 1915, Washington was the dominant leader in the African-American community.
Booker Taliaferro was born into slavery to Jane, an enslaved African-American woman on the plantation of James Burroughs in southwest Virginia, near Hale's Ford in Franklin County.
The youth worked in salt furnaces and coal mines in West Virginia for several years to earn money. He made his way east to Hampton Institute, a school established to educate freedmen, where he worked to pay for his studies. He also attended Wayland Seminary in Washington, D.C. in 1878.
In 1881, the Hampton Institute president Samuel C. Armstrong recommended Washington to become the first leader of Tuskegee Institute, the new normal school (teachers' college) in Alabama. He led the institution for the rest of his life and became a prominent national leader among African Americans, with considerable influence with wealthy white philanthropists and politicians.
On September 18, 1895, Booker T. Washington spoke before a predominantly white audience at the Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta. His “Atlanta Compromise” address or “Cast down your bucket" speech was one of the most important and influential speeches in American history. He claimed that his race would content itself with living “by the productions of our hands.” Unfortunately modern welfare has altered that essential principal of true growth in society.
Booker T Washington:
- Mr. President and gentlemen of the Board of Directors and citizens. One third of the population of the South is of the Negro race. No enterprise seeking the material, civil, or moral welfare of this section can disregard this element of our population and reach the highest success. I must convey to you, Mr. President and Directors, and Secretaries and masses of my race, when I say that in no way have the value and manhood of the American Negro been more fittingly and generously recognized, than by the managers of this magnificent exposition at every stage of its progress. It is a recognition that will do more to cement the friendship of the two races than any occurrence since the dawn of our freedom. Not only this, but the opportunities here afforded will awaken among us a new era of industrial progress.
- Ignorant and inexperienced, it is not strange that in the first years of our new life we began at the top instead of the bottom, that a seat in Congress or the state legislature was more sought than real estate or industrial skill, that the political convention of some teaching had more attraction than starting a dairy farm or a stockyard.
- A ship lost at sea for many days suddenly sighted a friendly vessel. From the mast of the unfortunate vessel was seen a signal: “Water, water. We die of thirst.” The answer from the friendly vessel at once came back: “Cast down your bucket where you are.” A second time, the signal, “Water, send us water!” went up from the distressed vessel. And was answered: “Cast down your bucket where you are.” A third and fourth signal for water was answered: “Cast down your bucket where you are.” The captain of the distressed vessel, at last heeding the injunction, cast down his bucket and it came up full of fresh, sparkling water from the mouth of the Amazon River.
- To those of my race who depend on bettering their condition in a foreign land, or who underestimate the importance of preservating friendly relations with the southern white man who is their next door neighbor, I would say: “Cast down your bucket where you are.” Cast it down, making friends in every manly way of the people of all races, by whom you are surrounded.
- To those of the white race who look to the incoming of those of foreign birth and strange tongue and habits for the prosperity of the South, were I permitted, I would repeat what I have said to my own race: “Cast down your bucket where you are.” Cast it down among the eight millions of Negroes whose habits you know, whose fidelity and love you have tested in days when to have proved treacherous meant the ruin of your fireside. Cast down your bucket among these people who have without strikes and labor wars tilled your fields, cleared your forests, builded your railroads and cities, brought forth treasures from the bowels of the earth, just to make possible this magnificent representation of the progress of the South.
Who Is Booker T. Washington?
Video at PragerU By Derryck Green
In the years following the Civil War, Booker T. Washington devoted his life to helping blacks transition out of slavery and into freedom. While his ideas were never fully embraced in his time, today, more than a century later, they remain strikingly relevant. Video by Derryck Green from Project 21 explains.
- "At the bottom of education, at the bottom of politics, even at the bottom of religion, there must be for our race economic independence." Booker T Washington
- "I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him." Booker T Washington
- "If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else." Booker T Washington
- "You can't hold a man down without staying down with him." Booker T Washington
- "No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem." Booker T Washington
- "Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way." Booker T Washington
- "Associate yourself with people of good quality, for it is better to be alone than in bad company." Booker T Washington
- "Few things can help an individual more than to place responsibility on him, and to let him know that you trust him." Booker T Washington
- "Character, not circumstances, makes the man." Booker T Washington
- "Character is power. – Booker T Washington
- "No greater injury can be done to any youth than to let him feel that because he belongs to this or that race he will be advanced in life regardless of his own merits or efforts." Booker T Washington
- "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." Booker T Washington
- "Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work." Booker T Washington
- "One man cannot hold another man down in the ditch without remaining down in the ditch with him." Booker T Washington
- "Egotism is the anesthetic that dulls the pain of stupidity. – Booker T. Washington
- "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." Booker T Washington
- "Success in life is founded upon attention to the small things rather than to the large things; to the every day things nearest to us rather than to the things that are remote and uncommon." Booker T Washington
- "The individual who can do something that the world wants done will, in the end, make his way regardless of his race." Booker T Washington
- "There is no power on earth that can neutralize the influence of a high, simple and useful life." Booker T Washington
- "I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him – Booker T. Washington
- "One man cannot hold another man down in the ditch without remaining down in the ditch with him. – Booker T. Washington
- Character, not circumstances, makes the man. – Booker T. Washington
- "Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others. – Booker T. Washington
- "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. – Booker T. Washington
- "Men may make laws to hinder and fetter the ballot, but men cannot make laws that will bind or retard the growth of manhood. – Booker T. Washington
- "The world cares very little what you or I know, but it does care a great deal about what you or I do. – Booker T. Washington
- "Of all forms of slavery there is none that is so harmful and degrading as that form of slavery which tempts one human being to hate another by reason of his race or color. – Booker T. Washington
- "In any country, regardless of what its laws say, wherever people act upon the idea that the disadvantage of one man is the good of another, there slavery exists. Wherever, in any country the whole people feel that the happiness of all is dependent upon the happiness of the weakest, there freedom exists. – Booker T. Washington
- "I learned the lesson that great men cultivate love, and that only little men cherish a spirit of hatred. I learned that assistance given to the weak makes the one who gives it strong; and that oppression of the unfortunate makes one weak. – Booker T. Washington
- "No greater injury can be done to any youth than to let him feel that because he belongs to this or that race he will be advanced in life regardless of his own merits or efforts. – Booker T. Washington
- "We should not permit our grievances to overshadow our opportunities." – Booker T Washington
- "He who lives outside the law is a slave. The free man is the man who lives within the law, whether that law be the physical or the divine."– Booker T. Washington
- "Great men cultivate love… Only little men cherish a spirit of hatred." – Booker T. Washington
- "A whining crying race may be pitied but seldom respected." – Booker T. Washington
- "The happiest people are those who do the most for others. The most miserable are those who do the least." – Booker T. Washington
- "The thing to do when one feels sure that he has said or done the right thing and is condemned, is to stand still and keep quiet. If he is right, time will show it. – Booker T Washington
- "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." – Booker T Washington
- "In my contact with people, I find that, as a rule, it is only the little, narrow people who live for themselves, who never read good books, who do not travel, who never open up their souls in a way to permit them to come into contact with other souls – with the great outside world." – Booker T Washington
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