Comments about ‘100 years since Booker T. Washington’s historic visit to the Mormons’

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Prominent educator, author, speaker visited Salt Lake 100 years ago

Published: Friday, March 29 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

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not from utah, 00

It always makes me laugh when people like LDS Lib apply definitions of today to words, phrases or times of the past. It usually never works out as is the case in the post today.

How much "progress" have we really made?

- abortion on demand
- divorce on demand
- homosexuality as something to be embraced and given the status of marriage
- loss of freedoms and liberty in the name of safety
- progressives demanding to take away our ability to defend ourselves and family

I'm glad this story was written as many have never heard of it. I'm sure there are many other newsworthy stories to bring forward to the public.

Burke, VA

Pops - When I check Webster's online dictionary for the word "progressive" it gives 8 different definitions but none of them conform to the one that you have postulated in your post of 12:05.

The definition I like best is this one "...making use of or interested in new ideas, findings, or opportunities." I'm pretty sure that is the one that Booker T. Washington had in mind when he wrote his record of his visit to Utah. Both the doctrine of the new church and the communitarian nature of how the church members lived was something that interested and pleased him. The reliance on community - both the security of it and the inherent responsibilities of living within it - made for a peaceful, secure place for people who had, for so long, been subject to the violent forces from outside their community. These new (progressive) ideas for living impressed Mr. Washington that's all.

Yes, LDS Liberal was making a point - perhaps insensitively - to say that "progressive" was not then, nor is it now, a dirty word. Our continued search for new, more successful ways of living is the only way to survive this sometimes harsh planet. That's all.

Salt Lake City, UT

Booker T. Washington was not a progressive. He told blacks to accept the social and political discrimination at the time and fight only for economic advancement. And his idea was to learn a trade. He said pursing a profession was unrealistic - that whites will hire a black plummer, but not go to a black doctor. His philosophy was not "be the best you can be," but be what white society finds acceptable. He urged blacks to be modest, restrained and subdued in dress and behavior, and that if they proved themselves "worthy" they might be embraced into white society. Because he was so popular with white society and a significant number of blacks, he helped enabled the continuation of segregation and discrimination. The true pioneer of civil rights was DuBois. He organized the NAACP, which fought for equal rights through the courts, which ended up being the most effective way to facilitate change.

Billy Bob
Salt Lake City, UT

Booker T Washington truly was an amazing person. Born a slave, then with a hard life after emancipation, he worked his tail off to become a brilliant scholar, speaker, and educator. In a time when the government actively condoned discrimination, Washington was able to raise himself out from poverty and help many other African Americans as he did so.

Maybe there is a lesson to be learned here. Maybe if the government would keeps its grubby hands out of things, then the African American community (and other minority communities) as a whole will be able to lift themselves up. If you keep treating someone as a victim, that is what they will remain. That is how they will act, and will take no responsibility for themselves. People will act as they are treated. Liberal policies such as affirmative action imply blacks and other minorities are less than whites and thus need so called "help". This is simply not true. Black people are as capable as whites, and should be treated as such. Liberals, although they veil it quite nicely, are the true racists.

layton, UT

*Re: Twin Lights, I am reasonably familiar with both the *history of the church and the** scriptures. Ok,
*In 1978, Brazil was one of the strongest reasons why the ban was lifted. The opening of its new temple in Sao Paulo, the LDS Church was ordaining hundreds of Brazilians to its priesthood. Did the LDS Church ignore Brazilian history? Between 1538 and Brazil's abolition of slavery in 1888, about five million African slaves were brought to that country. Through mixed marriages, Mulattos make up a substantial portion of the Brazilian population. How would the LDS Church possibly know whether or not those being ordained were qualified? With the dedication of this temple only a few months away, it would seem imperative that the church either lift the ban or face the possibility of a public relations nightmare.

**(Genesis 7:10 JST), And there was a blackness came upon all the children of Cainan, that they were despised among all people.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY


Washington and DuBois represented different thoughts/concepts but also lived in different times. Washington was born into slavery and died (somewhat young) during WWI. DuBois was born just 12 years later but was born after the 13th Amendment. He lived a very long life and was able to see the Civil Rights movement in full swing.

It's easy from the current vantage point to criticize. But in his day, Washington was an important leader. Without someone like him, would blacks have been ready for and able to fully utilize the leadership of someone like DuBois?

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY


Actually, I have often heard members comment that the need to extend temple blessings (and the gospel throughout the world) was driver in the extension of priesthood blessings. Francis Gibbon’s background confirms this.

But your question makes it seem as if the mixed race ancestry of Brazil was somehow a secret and it just dawned on Church leaders all of a sudden. Please. Presidents Kimball, Tanner and Romney were sharp men and world travelers.

That the temple helped bring the issue to the fore? Sure. For PR purposes? Nope.

BTW, in the NT when the complaint of the Greek widows came to apostles, did they appoint Stephen and the others as a PR move?


"...none of them conform to the one that you have postulated..."

I suppose that's primarily because I didn't postulate a definition of the term "progressive" - I described the "progressive" utopia to illustrate the fact that there is nothing progressive about the so-called progressive movement. What the progressive movement seeks is what mired the world in the Dark Ages. It is not new , better, or progressive.

By all means, let's find new and better ways of living. But let's remember history, particularly the bad stuff, so we don't have to learn by hard experience what we could have learned by study and reason. And let's remember the good stuff, so we don't throw it away for short-sighted experiments. Once liberty is lost, it is not so easily regained.

Provo, UT

To understand what the word progressive meant during Washington's day, you have to look at a dictionary from that period. I often do that kind of thing and it is enlightening in understanding history.

As far as Booker's method of handling racism, he believed that it couldn't happen over night and ground work had to be laid. With more economic success, then blacks could then move social issues in a peaceful, respectful manner. Maybe it was too slow but the idea has merit.

If it had worked, maybe there would be better race relations because as things stand now, I'm afraid we have lost some ground in certain areas since Dr. King's great leadership. Hate between races is growing even if laws give a lot of protection. We need to try to catch up with the laws in our attitudes toward one another.

the truth
Holladay, UT

@LDS Liberal

I agree with choice your of definition for "progressive" that Booker T. Washington intended.

But "progressive" today, in the political sense, means big government, big government solutions, and big government control, dependence on big government.

The Mormons certainly did not want that, their views and doctrines are quite the opposite.

That is where the confusion lies.

layton, UT

@Race relations, For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, the same Lord is Lord of All and richly blesses All who call on him, for, Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be Saved(Roman 10: 12).

RE: Twin Lights l, Tanner and Romney were sharp men . True but did they read *Greek?
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations=(*ethnos) baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost “(Mt 28:19) *ethnicity, All people. Check History of Church, Volume 5, pages 218-219.

william e. kettley

I was highly interested in the Booker T. Washington article. My interest began as a Boy Scout, collecting stamps toward the coveted Eagle Scout Award. Washington was featured on one of them, so I came to know of his history in America with his work at Tuskegee Institute with both social effort and his advances with the common peanut. His treatment in being housed in a lessor hotel than the famous Hotel Utah was common for his day, and I'm grateful all of us are considered more equal today. David Ward did an excellent journalistic effort in producing this piece, and it holds much detail we can learn from today in the equality of man. Great job David Ward ! Keep up the good work . . .William Kettley

Indio, CA

A wonderful piece of Utah history. Thanks for sharing!

Mister J
Salt Lake City, UT

@ lost in DC 3/29 11:11 a

Like Compassionate Conservative? or Practical Republican?

Bountiful, UT

Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois represent two very different very different beliefs as to the best path for African American progress. It could be argued that the difference was/is one of substance vs style or symbolic victories vs improvements in actual lives.

John Pack Lambert of Michigan
Ypsilanti, MI

It is easy to criticise Washington's views. However in many ways training people in trades that they can be gainfully employed in is an improvement over unskilled labor. Also, he did have a point about the difficulty as doctors, lawyers etc. It is arguably better to be an employed plumber than an unemployed lawyer. While technical education can at times hold people back from their full potential, it is clearly better than no education. It is better to make some improvement than none.

San Diego, CA

"not look inwardly more intently at their racist beliefs and doctrine / policy / "direct commandment from God"

It seems that the silent majority in Utah was more accepting of blacks than the leadership was willing to accept, or that today's liberal media is willing to acknowledge.

Now maybe this policy did come from God who -possibly on social grounds- wanted a homogeneous society for the church to grow out of, like he did with the Jews back in the day...however it is only speculation to second guess why it was in place. Without a scripture reference or new revelation we simply don't know the why.

But the conclusions are that yes, church leadership did not want Africans -including Egyptians, Algerians, Libyans & so on who are Mediterranean race and not Black- leading and blessing the people but the majority of members didn't seem to mind having a black person lead them or teach them....

Salt Lake City, UT

"Ronald Coleman, associate professor of history and ethnic studies at the University of Utah...., said, 'I don’t know that very many people think about Booker T. Washington today, (even) in the general African-American community.'"


Very interesting story and not entirely surprising, to me at least.

I well remember learning about Booker T. Washington and the Tuskegee Institute, along with George Washington Carver and his biological research on uses for peanuts, among other things. That was in the mid 50's and was just another part of the history lessons we were taught along side stories of the Alamo, the Pilgrims and the country's founding, etc.

I realize that "history" continues to be made and accumulates over time, necessitating the prioritization of what is taught and what is not. However, I think the importance of teaching history is mostly due to what we can learn from the best and most ennobling parts of our past.

Surely Booker T. Washington and his work to advance mankind should remain part of our national inheritance.

Richland, WA

The importance of the Tuskegee Institute and other black colleges in growing a leadership cadre for black Americans during a century when they were not admitted on an equal basis to other universities hould be remembered. In the US Air Force, the association of black officers is called the Tuskegee Airmen in tribute to the heroic fighter pilots from that school who escorted bombers over German territory during World War II, a story recently made into a movie by George Lucas. Like the Japanese Americans in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the Tuskegee Airmen fought racial prejudice by demonstrating their bravery and patriotism as Americans was the equal of any descendant of Europeans. Washington fought racism by demonstrating the reality of the intelligence and moral fiber of African Americans through real accomplishment.

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