In 2016 for my Black History 365 series, I explore the obvious and not so obvious parts of American history that those called Black have taken part in. The things that we (Black people) have done other than be stolen from our homeland and made forced labor in a land foreign to us. I’m going to start this series by looking up the first time someone African-American did something and broke the color barrier in that activity or field. I’ll be starting with Wikipedia and working my way out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_African-American_firsts
I will be learning a lot of this as I go since I am a product of the standardized Euro/Anglo/Caucasian leaning public school system. I hope you enjoy learning with me. I’ll be going down the list chronologically as it appears in the Wikipedia article.
If you have any other sources or additional information for this topic, please share in the comments. I also welcome any and all comments and discussion. Thanks for reading!
For today’s entry:
Booker T. Washington:
1901 – First African American invited to dine at the White House
1940 – First African American to be portrayed on a U.S. postage stamp
Booker Taliaferro Washington (April 5, 1856 – November 14, 1915) was an African-American educator, author, orator, and advisor to presidents of the United States. Between 1890 and 1915, Washington was the dominant leader in the African-American community.
Washington was from the last generation of black American leaders born into slavery and became the leading voice of the former slaves and their descendants. They were newly oppressed in the South by disenfranchisement and the Jim Crow discriminatory laws enacted in the post-Reconstruction Southern states in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
His base was the Tuskegee Institute, a historically black college in Alabama. As lynchings in the South reached a peak in 1895, Washington gave a speech, known as the “Atlanta compromise,” which brought him national fame. He called for black progress through education and entrepreneurship, rather than trying to challenge directly the Jim Crowsegregation and the disenfranchisement of black voters in the South. Washington mobilized a nationwide coalition of middle-class blacks, church leaders, and white philanthropists and politicians, with a long-term goal of building the community’s economic strength and pride by a focus on self-help and schooling. But, secretly, he also supported court challenges to segregation and passed on funds raised for this purpose. Black militants in the North, led by W. E. B. Du Bois, at first supported the Atlanta compromise but after 1909, they set up the NAACP to work for political change. They tried with limited success to challenge Washington’s political machine for leadership in the black community but also built wider networks among white allies in the North. Decades after Washington’s death in 1915, the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s took a more active and militant approach, which was also based on new grassroots organizations based in the South, such as CORE, SNCC and SCLC.
Booker T. Washington mastered the nuances of the political arena in the late 19th century, which enabled him to manipulate the media, raise money, strategize, network, pressure, reward friends and distribute funds while punishing those who opposed his plans for uplifting blacks. His long-term goal was to end the disenfranchisement of the vast majority of African Americans, who still lived in the South.
(For MUCH more information, read the full Wikipedia article)
wikipedia Primary sources
- Du Bois, WEB (1903), “3”, The Souls of Black Folk, Bartleby.
- Washington, Booker T (Sep 1895), The Atlanta Cotton States Exposition Address, History matters, GMU.
- ——— (September 1896), “The Awakening of the Negro”, The Atlantic Monthly 78
- ——— (1901). Up from Slavery: An Autobiography. Garden City, NY: Doubleday. Documenting the American South. Other online full-text versions available via Project Gutenberg, UNC Library
- ——— (December 1906). “A Farmers’ College on Wheels”. The World’s Work: A History of Our Time XIII: 8352–54. Retrieved 2009-07-10.
- ——— (October 1910). “Chapters From My Experience I”. The World’s Work: A History of Our Time XX: 13505–22. Retrieved 2009-07-10.
- ——— (November 1910). “Chapters From My Experience II”. The World’s Work: A History of Our Time XXI: 13627–40. Retrieved 2009-07-10.
- ——— (December 1910). “Chapters From My Experience III”. The World’s Work: A History of Our Time XXI: 13784–94. Retrieved 2009-07-10.
- ——— (January 1911). “Chapters From My Experience IV”. The World’s Work: A History of Our Time XXI: 13847–54. Retrieved 2009-07-10.
- ——— (February 1911). “Chapters From My Experience V”. The World’s Work: A History of Our Time XXI: 14032–39. Retrieved 2009-07-10.
- ——— (April 1911). “Chapters From My Experience VI”. The World’s Work: A History of Our Time XXI: 14230–38. Retrieved 2009-07-10.
- Washington, Booker T; Harlan, Louis R; Blassingame, John W (1972), The Booker T Washington Papers, University of Illinois Press, ISBN 0-252-00242-3, retrieved February 4,2009; fourteen volume set of all letters to and from Booker T. Washington.
- “cumulative index”, BTW 14, History cooperative.