booker t. washington portrait

By Rev. Dr. Adam Clayton Powell Sr.

From his Autobiography: "Against the Tide"

Dr. Powell was born in Franklin County, Virginia. His family moved to Malden, West Virginia, after the Civil War, as did the family of Dr. Washington.

At the Atlanta Cotton States Exposition, on September 18, 1895, the featured speaker was Professor Booker T. Washington, founder and builder of Tuskegee Institute. And among the notable attendees were Dr. Adam Clayton Powell, Sr. (builder and founder of Abyssinian Baptist church) and Dr. Edward Wilmot Blyden (consul to the Republic of Liberia who stated that Tuskegee Institute was a monument to what the Black Man can do for himself).

"I went to Atlanta because I wanted to see how far the White South had recovered from the physical destruction wrought by the march of Sherman's army and from the bad feeling created by the political rule of the carpet-baggers, and I especially wanted to see how far the Black South had gotten from the slavery and ignorance in the thirty years. Dr. Booker T. Washington's hand-and-finger-cast-down-your-bucket-where-you-are speech is the best yard stick by which to me assure the progress of both races up to that time.

Every sensible colored man and every benevolent White man left Atlanta with the resolution to rededicate his life to the removal of these handcuffs (speaking of the chains "broken but not off").

In preparation for the building of the new Abyssinian Baptist Church, in New York City, we combed New York for two weeks and found three colored masons and two hod carriers. Two of the masons and both helpers left after working a week and at the end of two weeks the third mason went south to bury his mother-in-law and he did not return until the church walls were completed. Plenty of colored men stood around to critique us for the way we were building the church, but only two could be found who helped us build it from start to finish.

" The greatest Negro ever produced in America. "

This experience, followed by similar incidents, thoroughly convinced me that Dr. Booker T. Washington's theory of industrial education for the majority of Negroes is correct. There is something almost criminally wrong with an educational system that dumps twenty-four M.A.'s in New York to starve to death and only one carpenter and three masons who can demand from ten dollars to fourteen dollars per day.

I most humbly apologized for all the criticism I ever made of Booker T. Washington's philosophy and theory of education.

At the very first Tuskegee Founders Day exercise held in Abyssinian Baptist Church, I most humbly apologized for all the criticism I ever made of Booker T. Washington's philosophy and theory of education. Dr. Robert Russa Moton, the distinguished inheritor of the policy and philosophy of the greatest Negro ever produced in America, was the first man to be invited to speak at the dedication of the Abyssinian Church and Community house on May 20, - June 17, 1923.