Are you are in need of a motivational or inspirational speaker for your next association meeting, your corporate training meeting, your next seminar, your church, your school or for Black History month? Let us inspire, educate, encourage, and empower you as we speak drawing from the deep reservoir of the exceptional life of our great grandfather Booker T. Washington.
A Brief Glimpse of the Breadth of the Life and Legacy of Booker T. Washington
From his difficult and humble beginnings as a slave on a tobacco plantation in the Virginia Hills, Booker T. Washington rose "Up From Slavery", during one of the lowest periods of race relations in American history, to become one of the greatest leaders of the African American race and a voice for the conscience of the American south.
He built a successful school, Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (Tuskegee Institute), now an endowed university, in the midst of former slaveholders. There he taught and demonstrated to the poorest and the most disenfranchised of his race the uplifting paths of faith in God, of family, of education, of character development, of the dignity of excellence in ones work, of self respect and of the power of economic development. He was the-founder and first president of the National Negro Business League, the first organization of its kind established solely for the purpose of the promotion and the advance of Black Business Enterprise. He was the first person in the United States to convene an international conference addressing the concerns of Black people throughout the world.
His was a relatively brief life, only fifty-nine years in duration, yet it was an extraordinary life spent in the uplift of and service to others. It was a life of high ideals, of action and productivity, which culminated in a great and lasting work, still in evidence today. At his death he was still a towering national influence among all races and among all social strata, and he was deeply admired and respected throughout the world.
He received more distinguished honors than ever accorded a man of the African-American race. He had the ear of two United States presidents and he was the first African American to dine at the White House and to share tea at Buckingham Palace with the Queen of England. He was the first African American to receive an honorary Masters Degree from Harvard University and an honorary Doctor of Philosophy Degree from Dartmouth College. He was the first African-American to be named to the National Hall of Fame and to be honored on postage stamps and commemorated on a coin. He was the first African American to have a United States naval vessel named for him, and the first African-American to have a giant California Sequoia tree named in his honor. He was the first African-American to have schools and organizations all over the country bear his name and the first African-American whose birthplace was declared a national monument. Yet, with all that he accomplished personally, perhaps his greatest legacy is what he helped millions of others to accomplish. He was able, in only a relatively short time after slavery had been abolished, to help so many of his race to obtain an education, to start a business, and to establish a home. These individuals were, in turn, taught to go out into their communities and to help others to secure the same.
What is it about this exceptional man that at the dawn of the 21st century, ninety years after his death, we still pause to consider his vision for racial and economic advance? Could it be, that as we revisit his deep spiritual and economic wisdom, that the liberating truth of his words is as applicable today for the progress of our race, or for any advancing race for that matter, as it was when it was first spoken many years ago?
Booker T. Washington aptly proclaimed that, "The Future is always built out of the materials of the Past."