Tim Dunkin: Black History Month - Who They Ought to be Celebrating

As you most likely know, February is Black History month. And as you also most likely know, the treatment which this will receive from both black Americans and white leftists will be completely misdirected and wasteful in the good which could be accomplished. Black History month, as with pretty much everything else that makes up the face of black American public participation, has become the province of race-baiting no-goods like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and their cadre of local emulators in every major city across America. Instead of taking the opportunity to celebrate the great strides that have been made by blacks in America, this month becomes just another excuse to crank up the grievance machine, extort money and guilt from gullible whites, and continue to hold black Americans back from being able to enjoy the fruits of the sacrifices made by their forefathers.

I, for one, think this is a shame. Instead of this month being an excuse to foment racial discord and to make blacks comfortable with submitting to self-imposed limitations, real contributions and real sacrifices ought to be recognized. This is why I have chosen to devote this article to celebrating Black History month by pointing the reader to the life and example of someone who black Americans would do well to imitate — Booker T. Washington.

Booker Taliafero Washington was born into slavery on April 5, 1856 on a plantation in northeastern Virginia. He was of mixed parentage. His mother, whose name we know as Jane, was a slave on the plantation. His father was a white man, but Booker barely knew him. Because of his mixed race background, Booker was considered black, and was therefore also a slave. He, along with the rest of his race, was emancipated from slavery with the defeat of the Confederacy in 1865 and the passage of the Thirteen Amendment outlawing slavery.

If there are two words which would characterize Booker T. Washington, they would be "diligence" and "energy." As a young man, Washington spent several years working in the salt furnaces and coal mines of West Virginia, obtaining a reputation as a hard worker and trustworthy employee. Dissatisfied with where he was at, young Booker set out to change his station in life by means of obtaining an education. At the age of 16, he enrolled in the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, in Hampton, Virginia. Because he was poor, he had to work to pay for this education. This continued as he further his studies after Hampton, going to Wayland Seminary, in Washington, D.C. After graduating, he returned to Hampton, this time as a teacher, helping to further the educational opportunities of other black youths.

It was at this time that Washington drew the favorable attention of Samuel C. Armstrong, the president of Hampton Institute. Armstrong tapped Washington to be the first principle of the Tuskogee Institute in Alabama, a new school being organized along the pattern of the Hampton Institute.

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