The great American political leader, educator and author Booker T. Washington compiled
essays he wrote over over the years to point out the what was needed after the reconstruction
period to bring the Southern Negro into mainstream America.
While Washington did point out the atrocities that had been committed against his race,
his purpose was not to foment a vendetta against the whites of the South. In fact, it was just
the opposite—to show how the two races needed each other to make the South more productive
and morally upright. Washington admitted that the Negro population lacked the skills to compete
with the white race. That is the reason he said that a key thing the Negro race needed was
industrial education, along with literary learning.
Washington's reasoning on what could be done to calm the tensions between the races was sound
and seems in part what has happened to improve the conditions over time since the publication of
It was interesting that Washington noted that the white people of the South needed the black
population to rise to a level of being productive citizens. Otherwise, in some cases, a third of
the population would be a great burden on the productive segment of society.
Washington said many of the black citizens were ignorant. But how could they not be, after two
centuries of being slaves? Washington suggested that voters (both black and white) be required to
own property and pass a literacy test. His reasoning was that if that were the case ignorant people
would not be voting on matters important to both races.
The reading by Andrew L. Barnes was terrific. At times the reader will almost think he is
listening to the great Booker T. Washington himself.