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more light #58

Booker T. Washington

by Ed Halpaus
Grand Lodge Education Officer
Grand Lodge of A. F. & A. M. of Minnesota

Brother Booker T. Washington, (the ‘T’ stands for Taliaferro,) was made a Mason at sight by the Grand Master of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. Brother Washington graduated from Hampton Institute in 1875, and received honorary degrees from Harvard and Dartmouth colleges. He founded Tuskegee Institute in 1884 and was its President. As a nationally know writer, educator, leader and speaker he authored many books and spoke widely on racial and educational subjects. He was steadfast in his efforts to improve economic independence through improvement in the education of African Americans. At times his methods were the subject of debate among his peers. It is because of everything he did to improve education and the economic well-being of African Americans that he is so-well remembered today.

In Brother Washington’s essay “Industrial Education for the Negro” he said in part: “Many seem to think that industrial education is meant to make the Negro work as he worked in the days of slavery. This is far from my conception of industrial education. If this training is worth anything to the Negro, it consists in teaching him how not to work, but how to make the forces of nature – air, steam, water, horse-power and electricity – work for him. If it has any value it is in lifting labor up out of toil and drudgery into the plane of the dignified and the beautiful. The Negro in the South works and works hard; but too often his ignorance and lack of skill causes him to do his work in the most costly and [unproductive] manner and this keeps him near the bottom of the ladder in the economic world.”

In one of the speeches he gave in his lifetime he told this story:

“A ship lost at sea for many days suddenly sighted a friendly vessel. From the mast of the unfortunate vessel was seen a signal, ‘water, water; we die of thirst!’ the answer from the friendly vessel at once came back ‘cast down your bucket where you are.’ A second time the signal ‘water, water; send us water!’ ran up from the distressed vessel, and was answered, ‘cast down your bucket where you are.’ And a third and fourth signal for water was answered, ‘cast down your bucket where you are.”

“The Captain of the distressed vessel, at last heeding the injunction, cast down his bucket, and it came up full of fresh water from the mouth of the Amazon river.”

“To those of my race who depend on bettering their condition in a foreign land or who underestimate the importance of cultivating friendly relations with the southern white man who is their next door neighbor, I would say: ‘Cast down your bucket where you are’ – cast it down in making friends in every manly way, of the people of all races by whom we are surrounded.”

Sources: Denslow’s 10,000 famous Freemasons: Tidbits, North Metro edition Twin Cities; The Complete Idiot’s Guide to African American History.

“Our people have made the mistake of confusing the methods with the objectives. As long as we agree on objectives, we should never fall out with each other just because we believe in different methods, or tactics, or strategy.” Malcolm X

“To be a champ, you have to believe in yourself when nobody else will.”
Brother “Sugar Ray” Robinson, member Joppa Lodge 55 PHA New York, city, NY

“I, myself, being one who was lost and dead, buried here in the rubbish of the west, in the thickest darkness of sin and ignorance, (hoodwinked by the false teachings of the slave-master,) am able to stand upright today; perpendicular, on the square with my God, (Allah,) and my own kind; raised from the ignorant death.” El Hajj Malik El-Shabazz: Born Malcolm Little in 1925 --- Malcolm X

“How far you go in life depends on you’re being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant with the weak and strong: Because someday in life you will have been all of these.” George Washington Carver.

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Last modified: March 22, 2014