No Excuses- Morality and Working Hard Raised Him “Up From Slavery”

Every person who has been given the chance to be born is given an opportunity to do something with their lives. Everyone makes choices throughout their lives and how we use our gifts, talents and dreams defines our character and who we become.

British author, educator and intellect C.S Lewis once said that “the claim to equality is made only by those who feel themselves to be in some way inferior.

We hear a lot about equality in our society but many people probably don’t think of value and worth when they think of equality. When it comes to race issues those on the political left believe America has still a long way to go to make things equal for all races, yet this nation has blacks who achieved greatness in virtually every occupation.  We have black congressmen and women, Senators, Supreme Court Justice, teachers, doctors, military heroes, astronauts, authors, and President; black musicians, media publicists, entertainers and sports stars. How would this be possible if we a racially unequal society?

Progressives would have people to believe that white Christian Conservatives think minorities deserve to know self-respect and their self-worth because of their skin color.

They never take into account that we believe no one needs special treatment, because everyone is capable of doing great things because of who they are, not what they look like or the color of their skin.

We look at men like Booker T. Washington of the past, and respect them and all of those who followed in their footsteps to achieve or work towards their own lives and lives of others. We respect those who achieve goals by studying, hard work and developing their God given talents and skills.

Booker Taliaferro was born in 1856 to a slave mother and an unknown white man in Virginia.   His mother named him Booker Taliaferro but later dropped the second name. Soon after he was born, his mother married another slave named Washington Ferguson. Booker took the surname Washington when he first went to school.

Booker spent his first nine years as a slave until emancipation. In 1865, he moved with his family to West Virginia, he worked in a coal mine until he was 12. He attended school while continuing to work in the mines.

When he was 16, Booker was enrolled at Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in Virginia. After his schooling there, he taught and then studied law and the ministry for a time. A turning point in    Booker’s life happened in 1880 when the Alabama State Legislature passed a bill which included appropriations to establish a school for black students.

The principal from the Hampton Institute was invited to recommend a white teacher to start the school, but instead, he chose Booker T. Washington.  Washington was accepted, and traveled to Alabama to establish the Tuskegee Normal School for the training of Black teachers.

When Washington arrived at Tuskegee, no land or buildings had been acquired for the projected school and since the money appropriated was for salaries only, there was no money to purchase any land. It was up to Washington, who began to promote the idea of the school.

Gaining support from both local whites and help from black students, the school was able to open on July 4, 1881, in a little shack which was loaned to them by a Black church.

Soon, Washington was able to purchase an abandoned 100-acre plantation on the outskirts of Tuskegee with a loan he received from the Hampton Institute, his former school. The students made and fired their own bricks for buildings and sold more to raise money. Within a few years, they completed a chapel, building for classes, a dining hall and a girl’s dormitory.

Seven years after the school’s humble opening, it had grown to a 540-acre school with more than 400 students.  It offered training in trades as carpentry, cabinetmaking, printing, as well as farming courses for boys and cooking and sewing for girls. Strong emphasis was placed on personal hygiene, manners and character building. All students were required to attend chapel daily as well as religious services on Sunday even though Tuskegee was non-denominational. Sunday night services usually saw Booker T giving the talks to students.

By the 25th year, the Tuskegee Institute had grown even more to a 2,000-acre, eighty-three building campus including livestock and training for thirty-seven industries.  There were 1,500 students enrolled that year.

Booker T. Washington proved that anyone could advance even through adversity. In addition to his work in education, he wrote 40 acclaimed books which were widely read including his autobiography “Up From Slavery”.

Washington spoke about what he called the New Negro, who had “the knowledge of how to live … how to cultivate the soil, to husband their resources, and make the most of their opportunities.” at the Atlanta Expo in 1895 which made him a nationally known figure in race relations.

Booker T. was conservative in principle and policies, while moderate in racial issues. He declared that African Americans should focus on vocational education which would help blacks learn valuable life skills and trades. He believed that if blacks contributed as productive members of society, equality would naturally follow. In spite of opposition from liberal blacks and whites, he was the first black person invited to dine at the White House in 1901 with Teddy Roosevelt.  He was Counsel to both Presidents Roosevelt and Taft.

Washington was a great leader of the black community, and he was a self-made man; a great role model to thousands, both blacks and whites.  His model for education was a gift to blacks from all circumstances and gave thousands a chance to rise above their seemingly hopeless beginnings and achieve the same American dream that others had achieved.

When I think of writings and speeches given by many of American’s early founders and leaders, often times I’m reminded of events which happen in our times- making it seem as if historically, some of the leaders were prophetic.  It also reminds me that there truly is nothing new under the sun.

Washington once observed that “There is another class of colored 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.”

Liberals love to hold Martin Luther King Jr. as an icon of their progressive policies, using his work and words during the Civil Rights movement of the 50’s and 60’s to promote ideologies which are antithetical to King’s appeal to judge a person by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. In Booker T. Washington’s words, no where do I see those people who make a healthy living off of blacks in America by keeping the racial embers stirred more than progressive liberal politicians such as the Congressional Black Caucus, community organizers and grandstanders such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

In our society now we have so called white privilege and black lives matter.  When I read about blacks throughout American history who worked tirelessly to empower themselves and others through education and hard work, it’s amazing to see now how much more black leaders are tearing down the foundations that those men and women built.

Whites and blacks died to free slaves and end slavery in America and they marched side by side to change the liberal segregation in the south during the Civil Rights era.  We have blacks who achieved greatness in medicine, science, politics, education, poetry, economics, law, entertainment and sports, yet people ignore all those gains by passing a false narrative that racism is still rampant in America.

Yes racism exists, as it always has, in every country on the planet.  In America, there are choices between the secularist and liberal idea that blacks aren’t good enough to achieve anything in life without government help or that God given talents and abilities can be developed and strengthened by education and work.

There are no excuses for playing a victim or blaming others. Men like Booker T. and millions of others raised themselves up from slavery and lived their God given dreams.