Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Booker T. Washington: The Better Part

Booker T. Washington(1856-1915) Was a civil rights and human rights activist that was born into slavery. At 16 years old, he achieved an education even though his family was poor and it was illegal for slaves to learn. He would walk hundreds of miles to Virginia, working as a janitor in a school in exchange for being able to study.
As an adult, he delivered a speech at the Peace Jubilee in Chicago on October 16, 1898. He spoke for the African American people that have been oppressed by society from the onset, but have strove for equality in the nation that promised liberty and justice for all. 
Booker T. Washington states that the "Negroes" had no choice but to submit to slavery rather than allow their race to become extinct as the aborigines did. He continues to explain about an African American, Crispus Attucks, that gave of his life during the American Revolution to fight for the freedom from British rule, however he was not regarded as a hero nor an equal to his white counterpart. 
 Washington makes these significant examples as well as others to express that the African Americans were trying to fight for the same freedoms that all Americans wanted but were never given the chance. During times of war, he goes on to say that when the white soldiers were suffering from exhaustion and disease, willing blacks were not considered capable of fighting.
"We have succeeded in every conflict except in the effort to conquer ourselves in the blotting out of racial prejudices."
Washington expressed his thoughts on racial prejudices as if it were a virus that will affect the Republic from ever becoming a free and strong nation with the following quote.
"I make no empty statement when I say that we shall have a cancer gnawing at the heart of this Republic that shall one day prove as dangerous as an attack from an army from without or within."
He closes by thanking his fellow race for contributing for the betterment of America. Whether in times of war or peace, or enslavement or freedom, Booker T. Washington felt that the African American race as a whole, has tried to prove their loyalty to the "Stars and Stripes."

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