But today, we celebrate his date of birth, which took place in 1856.
An educator by ironic trade, given when and where he was born his family was granted freedom at the close of the civil war and he was given a good edumacation himself at Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) and Wayland Seminary (now Virginia Union). He would go on to lead the Tuskegee Institute, the first one to do so and the only one to do so in the 25 yeas between his taking the position and his death.
An as-described “dominant” leader of the black American community – which the last 3-4 generations, including my own and those after me has lacked for some time now – he was charismatic enough to speak to a slowly-converting southern white population to allow blacks paid working positions. Rubbing elbows with the wealthiest of his time, he used his considerable pull to score funding for educational programs and was the fist black dude EVER invited to the White House as a guest of the President (Teddy Roosevelt, for the record).
To this day, a great many schools and halls of college campuses throughout the United States are named after the man, as would be only fitting given the focus of his body of work being on the power that a good education gives a man.
Funny how the conduit to your own comeup could be used to forging that for others that come after you. Seems that no one seems to think that when the only comeups they can think of are basketball, then rap or crack, or rap AND crack if they suck at basketball…
[Phlip note – or they never grow taller than 5’8”, as the issue with a great many rappers]
Booker T seemed to be more interested in fighting his fight not with marches, protest, and rabble-rousing, so much as gaining and maintaining support from those seemingly on the other side – white folks – and getting things together without making a big destructive scene.
While he was criticized for this approach of not “going in and taking it” by other black leaders, his successes should speak to the effectiveness of the man’s approach. And for that we should celebrate him.
Happy born date, Booker Taliaferro Washington!