Booker T. Washington : The Trumpet of Conciliation

  • Booker T. Washington: The Trumpet of Conciliation

  • An Excerpt from "THE BLACK EXPERIENCE IN AMERICA" Published electronically by its author, Norman Coombs,and Project Gutenberg.(C 1993) by Norman Coombs.

  • Narrator

    Within a few months of Douglass's death, a new leader was thrust upon the Afro-American community.

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  • Unlike Douglass, who believed in self-assertion, Booker T. Washington developed a leadership style based on the model of the old plantation house servant.

  • He used humility, politeness, flattery, and restraint as a wedge with which he hoped to split the wall of racial discrimination.

  • His conciliatory approach won the enthusiastic support of the solid South as well as that of influential Northern politicians and industrialists, their backing gained him a national reputation and provided him with easy access to the press.

  • Members of his own community were filled with pride to see one of their own treated with such respect by wealthy and influential leaders of white America.

  • Narrator

    When Theodore Roosevelt entertained Washington for dinner at the White House, the Afro-American community was overjoyed.

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  • However, some whites believed that it had been a dangerous breach of etiquette.

  • Nevertheless, there were those within the Afro-American community who were not enthusiastic about their new leader.

  • They believed that conciliation was the road to surrender and not the way to victory.

  • Booker T. Washington was born into slavery on April 5, 1856.

  • His mother had been a slave in Franklin County, Virginia.

  • Narrator

    The identity of his white father remains unknown.

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  • After Emancipation the family moved to West Virginia where it struggled to achieve a livelihood.

  • Young Booker attended a school for the children of ex-slaves while, at the same time, holding down a full-time job in the mines.

  • As a courteous, cooperative, hard-working young man he secured a job cleaning and doing other tasks around the house of one of the mine owners.

  • This occupation was less strenuous than working in the mines, and it left him more energy to pursue his studies, In 1872, with nothing to help him besides his determination, he traveled and worked his way hundreds of miles to Hampton Institute.

  • Undaunted by lack of tuition, he insisted that he could do some useful work to cover his expenses.

  • Narrator

    When he was directed to clean the adjoining room as a kind of entrance test, his response was to apply himself to the task.

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