Tag Archives: washington-legacy

Book Cover

On Intangible Influences

In the final chapter of his 2011 book, The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency, Randall Kennedy comments on several of Obama’s critics on the black left, including author and Georgetown University Professor Michael Eric Dyson, who, he says, went from vigorous support for Barack Obama the candidate to vocal […]


Friday Fun: I Heard It Through the Grapevine

In Up from Slavery, Booker T. Washington makes reference to the “grape-vine” telegraph, the unofficial and effective, if not always entirely accurate, means by which Civil War-era slaves kept themselves informed as to the goings on of the nation. The term became even more popular when Marvin Gaye and Gladys Knight and the Pips (above) […]


Model Black Conservative

In a piece published in early October, Atlanta Journal-Constitution political columnist Jim Galloway implicitly casts Booker T. Washington as a model black conservative and compares him with Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain: When the marches of the 1950s and ’60s came, it was Du Bois’ strategy of political confrontation that was extolled. Washington’s out-of-step economic […]


Up from History

It is hard to think of a historical figure more in need of biographical rescue. The idea of “biographical rescue” articulated by Shelby Steele in his New York Times review of Robert J. Norrell‘s 2009 biography, Up from History: The Life of Booker T. Washington, requires, as its complement, a “definitive” biography from which Washington, […]

Booker T. Washington

A Figure of Controversy

By the time he died at age 59, Booker T. Washington inspired devoted admirers and fierce detractors, whose words together depict yet another “two-sided man.” As quoted in Robert J. Norrell’s 2009 biography Up from History: The Life of Booker T. Washington, Madame C. J. Walker, the first female American self-made millionaire called Washington “the […]

Obama at BTW High School

Obama on Booker T. Washington

In May of this year, President Barack Obama delivered the commencement address at Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, Tennessee. At one point, he talked directly about the school’s namesake: All of these qualities — empathy, discipline, the capacity to solve problems, the capacity to think critically — these skills don’t just change how […]

Atlanta Compromise

Quotable: Booker T. Washington

In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress. -Booker T. Washington, Cotton States International Exhibition, Atlanta, September 18, 1895 Few speeches of any merit can easily be distilled down into just one line and, indeed, it […]