Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Booker T. Washington

Black integration or autonomy? (Feb. 24, 20120)

            Booker T. Washington was born in 1856 of a “white” father; he founded “Tuskegee Institute” in Alabama in 1881.  Booker was the first black leader to be invited to the White House during Theodore Roosevelt in 1901.  In 1895, Booker presented a program at the Atlanta International Trade Fair that focused on three issues for the duration of a period:

First, accepting to decline any demands relative to political civil rights;

Second, accepting segregation with the white society; thus agreeing on a lower status for the black citizens;

Third, agreeing not to have Federal financial aids for black formation at universities.

            The rationales for Booker was that blacks had to focus on technical skills, contribute to internal market trade, and accumulate wealth in the process before demanding equality in civil rights.  Booker believed that there were phases to progress; when blacks reach adequate proper means then demanding political rights will be reasonable.  It happened that in that period the northern States were investing heavily in the southern States and blacks were reaping a good part of that investment and jobs.  Thus, Booker’s program finally enjoyed the majority acceptance of the southern blacks.

            William Du Bois begged to differ: “B.T. Washington represents the old black attitude of submission.  Is it admissible and feasible for millions of blacks to accomplish effective progress if they are deprived of their basic political civil rights?  Can the blacks ever dream of any real progress if they are treated as slave caste and denied quality opportunities to moving ahead? It has been proven, again and again, that when blacks submit then prejudices increase.  When racism is on the rise then blacks react vehemently and demand political rights and power as equal citizens under the laws.  Blacks discover that it is more valuable to preserving self-esteem than acquiring tainted wealth that can be robbed from them in due time. It is not possible to civilize a people who have relinquished his value for self-esteem and the natural rights to struggle as free men.”

            This dichotomy is almost identical in apartheid Israel.  Moderate and so called “democratic forces” among the Israelis and Palestinians demand integration of the two people within one State.  The radical factions among the two people demand two separate States.  It is the right of the Palestinian people of all religious sects, after 60 years of racial discrimination, to demand a separate, self-sufficient, and autonomous State.  The Palestinians need to re-gain self-esteem in planning and running a State; the Israelis need a period of decolonization to mentally re-gain humanity and abidance by the UN charter.

“Harry Stott: Ancient black Greek philosopher”; (Feb. 20, 2010)

From one of the columns “Just be Simple” in the Chicago Defender

Simple said: “My wife took me to “Black History Week” and a black professor was giving a conference.  This hysteric professor…

Langston cut in: “You mean history professor?”

Simple seemed to let this correction pass and resumed: “This hysteric professor said we niggers are badly educated, badly led, and we are wasting our energy on having good time.  He wants us to work and gain a few cents instead of dancing and doing Jazz.

Langston: “A constructive criticism is not a bad thing.  We have got to tear down shanty homes to build newer ones.

Simple: “The professor got my wife all hot.  She said that the professor was describing my behavior.  She kept reminding me of what he said about this black Greek philosopher Harry Stott (Aristotle).  I told her that this black Greek philosopher must have lived before Booker T. Washington.  The professor insisted that black educated people played a large role in history since Adam and Eve.

Langston: Great!  Now is time to improving racial relationship

Simple: “I have got my idea that jazz, laughter, balls, dancing, and singing are better means to working out racial relationship.  I would suggest that, instead of beginning with high flatulent oration during conferences, better start with jam sessions and then the orchestra of Duke, Hampton, or Count Bessie brings the tempo to any conference.  We can take a break listening to Saint-Louis Blues to fill the gap between talks. It would be swell that a great artist sings “There will be change one day” and we all rejoin “Amen”.  By 5 pm, we re-start another jam session and the orchestra plays “Tea for two” while we drink tea. This is the right way to resolving racial problems: heart is high and higher than the sky.  Wheeee!”

Langston Hughes (1902-67) was a black author and poet.  He was a major activist in Harlem Renaissance movement between the two world wars.

Hughes studied at Columbia University and recalled the festive ambiance in Harlem in his autobiography “The Big Sea, 1940”.  His essay “Negro artist and the racial mountain, 1926” encourages black authors to express their emotions without shame or fear and to boldly critique cultured blacks and racist whites.

He published columns in Chicago Defender under the title “Just be Simple”.  Thus, Simple became the hero of his chronicles. Simple was convinced that art, music, and books could transform mentality and defeat discrimination tendencies. Later, Simple became more radical and demanded civil rights.  Simple is one of the most famous characters in black literature.  Simple is like the Uncle Tom of the 20th century.




December 2022

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