16 Jun 2020 Booker T. Washington’s 125-Year-Old Lessons for Black Lives Matter
It was in 1895 that famed black American educational pioneer Booker T. Washington addressed the Atlanta Exposition about how blacks and whites could advance both races together.
Washington lacked faith in social programs, and he opposed political solutions to racial issues. Instead, he said the best way to foster equality was for white Americans to help black Americans develop their economic and educational acumen over time.
In a new PragerU video about Washington and his teachings, Project 21 member Derryck Green explains that Washington realized that “social equality would not come swiftly…. The civil rights the Constitution promised would evolve naturally from black achievement.”
Angering other black leaders of his own era, Washington foresaw and was content with a long struggle to advance black development in:
- Personal responsibility
These aspects of Washington’s plan took a hit with the promotion of Great Society programs in the 1960’s onward, but – with welfare reform in the 1990s and more recent increases in job and wealth creation options – opportunity and the rewards of it have become more apparent.
Washington also practiced what he preached. Derryck explains how the Tuskegee Institute was a testament to this work ethic. Students, particularly the first classes, were integral in the actual construction of the institution. Washington wanted his students to not only undergo academic instruction, but also to learn a trade.
In the PragerU video, Derryck remarks: “He believed this led not only to racial uplift among blacks, but to respect for blacks.”
Washington himself said:
The individual who can do something that the world wants done will, in the end, make his way regardless of race.
Derryck says that of all the great black American leaders, “none had more influence in their time than Booker T. Washington did in his.” And Washington’s ideas still apply:
Today, in an America that is open to and accepting of all races, Washington’s prescription for black success is more relevant than ever.
That made him a great leader and a prophet.
In its first nine days online, Derryck’s video on Booker T. Washington has had over 1 million views on YouTube and over 780,000 views on the PragerU website.