Prominent educator, author, speaker visited Salt Lake 100 years ago
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.
"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
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.
"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....
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.
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.
@ lost in DC 3/29 11:11 aLike Compassionate Conservative? or
A wonderful piece of Utah history. Thanks for sharing!
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
@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.
@ECR@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.
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.
"...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
Sharrona,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
nonceleb,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?
*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.
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.
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.
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.
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 familyI'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.
@LDS LiberalYou're confused because the word
"progressive" has been twisted to mean quite the opposite in
today's lexicon as it once did, as has the term "liberal". The
progressive utopia is nothing more than the old tyranny, where everything is
wonderful if we would just give up our liberty and conform to how the
"wisest" among us would have us live. This equation fails because human
nature is such that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The
"wisest" inevitably either become tyrants or are displaced by
tyrants.Yes, there are utopianists - tyrants in embryo - on both
sides of the political spectrum.And those who perpetually engage in
cognitive infiltration simply for the sake of contention are a sorry lot. You
know who you are.
IJ from Hyrum:Good thoughts. It often takes a mosaic of opinions to
move forward, but to extend your analogy, when the children of today ask what
the pile of ashes and circle of stones are, we should explain the campfire.In the interest of understanding, "rafinsure" from Elk Grove, CA
provides keen insight into a dominant line of thinking from African Americans
today. For every Booker T. Washington, there was a W.E.B DuBois, Martin Luther
King had Malcolm X.The point can certainly be made that without more
aggressive seekers of social justice, progress may have been slower, or maybe
even not been made. After the Civil War, after emancipation, the South
certainly took a giant step backward with Jim Crow laws, lynchings, etc. The
case can certainly be made that without pressure from the outside, and
aggressive agitation, we might still have segregation.Martin Luther
King is honored today as a hero for all Americans, but in his time he was
accused of being a communist, an anti-American bent on the destruction of our
nation.Change often involves struggle, and those campfires should be
remembered, not covered up.
Sharrona,Hard time believing what? I am no historian but I am
reasonably familiar with both the history of the church and the scriptures.Were you responding to my earlier post? That was a specific response to
previous postaers who seemed to have a hard time believing that Mr. Washington
actually had nice things to say about the Mormons (imagine that . . .).If you are going to respond to me, please, please do so on what I have
actually commented about. I will try to afford you the same benefit.BTW, scattergun quotes really don’t help engage a conversation. At
least not for me.
I found this a very educational article. I was unaware that Mr. Washington had
vivited Utah.I found the racism, bias, and bigotry of some of the
comments alarming. You do not put out a camp fire by throwing wood on it. We
can disagree without being disagreeable. You have different views that I do but
to make remarks that stir the fire is to keep it going. Sure, there were
mistakes and myoptic views by people of all races, religions, etc. but to keep
bringing it up and up and up does not advance the platform of peace.We also must understand that each of us sees truth differently. Truth can be
found but not by a closed mind. The Lord's method is to ask, seek, and
knock. If we are relying on our own understanding we will be led down the wrong
LDS? libtoday intelligent and progressive are contradictory.
It would be wonderful if every young person would read his bio "Up From
Slavery"? If he could accomplish what he did given his overwhelming
disadvantages, anything is possible!
"LDS Liberal"- And, just how ARE things under that rock?
I loved this line -- “They have certainly made the desert
blossom as a rose,” Washington recorded after his trip. “I have
never been among a more intelligent, healthy, clean, PROGRESSIVE, moral set of
people than these people are …."My, how things have
changed in 100 years.The Intelligent, Progressive Mormons seem to have
become the minority in the community today.
It is a heart warming to see that the community was respectful to BT Washington
back in the day. I wouldn't necessarily describe this occasion as the
local community being a driving force behind racial equality. Their long time
support of Louis Agassiz, the Swiss American who spend decades "proving"
that African Americans were not as intelligent as Caucasians, provides another
insight into the cultural foundations of the local community at the time.It would be refreshing on occasion (not always, just once in a while)
for a religious community to be the driving force behind social changes, rather
than being the last hold out, being dragged screaming and yelling into a new
modern social order.
RE: Twin Lights, if you have a hard time believing:Joseph Fielding Smith,
The doctrine did not originate with President Brigham Young but was taught by
the Prophet Joseph Smith…we all it is due to his teaching that the negro
today is barred from the Priesthood. The Way to perfection, pp 110-111.Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were
Barnabas, Simeon (called the black man, Lucius (from Cyrene)….(Acts 13:1
NLT) God is … the King eternal, immortal, INVISIBLE, the
only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (1Tim 1:17). Skin color is
not an issue.
I don't care much for Booker T. Washington. His adherence to the philosophy
of accepting discrimination and accommodating it almost set the Civil Rights
Movement back. He only pushed more material prosperity in the black community.
On the other hand, W.E.B. DuBois said no to Washington's strategy since it
would only serve to perpetuate white oppression. Du Bois advocated political
action and a civil rights agenda (he helped found the NAACP). In addition, he
argued that social change could be accomplished by developing the small group of
college-educated blacks.DuBois and those like him are the true heroes of
the African American community.
When the ban on the priesthood was lifted I cried for joy! I imagine that many
other "white" Saints did the same. I was taught that all races are
Heavenly Father's children. In the early Church many slaves were helped by
the LDS people. That is a story that is not often mentioned. This article was
another sign that the Church recognizes greatness wherever it is found. I am
glad that Booker T. Washington found his visit to Utah to be a pleasant one.
Thanks for this enjoyable article of a piece of history.
A great article about Utah, LDS and African-American history. I'm glad it
didn't "whitewash" that Booker T. Washington was not allowed to
stay at the Hotel Utah. That was the reality. There was a longtime
member of Calvary Baptist Church here in SLC named Brother Styles who passed
away maybe 5 years ago who worked at the Hotel Utah as a shoe-shiner, though he
was not allowed to stay there himself. Much of this history is important and
needs to be saved.Who can deny the goodness and industriousness
among the LDS population that Booker Washington found admirable? Very
impressive.At the same time, it's still mysterious and perhaps
"unexplainable" how the Mormons could engage such an impressive figure
as Washington and not look inwardly more intently at their racist beliefs and
doctrine / policy / "direct commandment from God" (from the First
Presidency in 1949), especially given Joseph Smith's ordination of the
Priesthood to blacks, and the sharp turn away from that practice, and the
stubborn persistence in that line of thinking until 1978.Nonetheless, for those of us who went through that time period, today's
views on race among LDS are refreshing.
I'm glad to see some attention drawn to Booker T. Washington. Yes, he has
been largely forgotten. Part of that is due to the Black community themselves;
many of them don't value his contribution for various reasons, most of them
political in nature. Conservative Blacks especially should revitalize his
If you have a hard time believing this, you can find the text of the letter
online. I scanned it. Quite positive.
I found this article to be enlightening and educational. Certainly the Saints
at the time of Washington's visit were still feeling the sting of
persecution from mainstream America much like Washington and his people were
feeling. Even after "the law" allowed for both groups to become
legitimate citizens it took, and continues to take, the passage of time for
people to stop believing the worst of what they hear about a religious group or
race of people. Thank you for bringing the vignette of history forward and
educating all of us about a time and experience we all should look to as a model
of our behavior today.PCMed - Please share just a few of the many
reasons you find this article difficult to believe.
I notice that when most people use the inane phrase "just sayin',"
it is because they know their comment is rude, inappropriate or unsupported.
When individuals have "many reasons" for disbelieving published
historical accounts and yet fail to cite even one that supports my observations
on people who use the phrase 'just sayin'." Personally, I can see
why individuals of two persecuted but distinct groups would empathize with and
find great pleasure in seeing the success of those whom they would naturally
regard as their peers. Does that mean that the feeling was universal amongst
all the members? No, but the article does provide us with an interesting
snap-shot in the history of America, Utah and the LDS Church.
Regardless of what cynics may think, its great article and compliment on Utah
society in the face of overall oppresion during Mr. Washington's era. Sure,
I would concede that there was a small group of dissadents who despised Booker,
but it's safe to say that he it was not the majority opinion. Thanks for
this great historic piece.
Thank you for sharing this bit of history. I'm touched by it.
I have a difficult time believing this article... For many reasons... Just