Table of Contents
My Larger Education by Booker T. Washington
THERE are some opportunities that come to the boy or girl who is born poor that the boy or girl who is born rich does not have. In the same way there are some advantages in belonging to a disadvantaged race. The indi-vidual or the race which has to face peculiar hardships and to overcome unusual difficulties gains an experience of men and things and gets into close and intimate touch with life in a way that is not possible to the man or woman in ordi-nary circumstances.
In the old slavery days, when any of the white folks were a little uncertain about the quality of a new family that had moved into the neighborhood, they always had one last resource for determining the character and the status of the new family. When in doubt, they could always rely on old "Aunt Jenny." After "Aunt Jenny" had visited the new family and returned with her report, the question was settled. Her decision was final, because "Aunt Jenny" knew. The old-fashioned house servants gained, through their peculiar experiences, a keen sense for what was called the "quality."
In freedom also the Negro has had special opportunities for finding out the character and the quality of the white people among whom he lives. If there is a man in the com-munity who is habitually kind and considerate to the hum-blest people about him, the colored people know about that man. On the contrary, if there is a man in that commu-nity who is unfair and unjust in his dealings with them, the colored people know that man also.
In their own way and among themselves, the colored people in the South still have the habit of weighing and passing judgment on the white people in their community; and, nine times out of ten, their opinion of a man is pretty accurate. A man who can always be counted on to go out of his way to assist and protect the members of an unpopular race, and who is not afraid or ashamed to show that he is interested in the efforts of the colored people about him to improve their condition, is pretty likely to be a good citizen in other respects.
In the average Southern community, also, it is almost always the best people, those who are most highly cultured and religious, who know the colored people best. It is the best white people who go oftenest into the Negro churches or teach in the Negro Sunday-schools. It is to individual white men of this better class that the average colored people go most frequently for counsel and advice when they are in trouble.
The fact that I was born a Negro, and the further fact that I have all my life been engaged in a kind of work that was intended to uplift the masses of my people, has brought me in contact with many exceptional persons, both North and South. For example, it was because I was a poor boy and a Negro that I found my way to Hampton Institute, where I came under the influence of General Armstrong, who, as teacher and friend, has had a larger influence upon my life than any other person I have ever known, except my mother. As it was in my boyhood, it has been in a greater degree in my later life; because of the work I was trying to do for the Negro race I have constantly been brought into contact with men of the very highest type, generous, high-minded, enlightened, and free. As I have already suggested, a large part of my education has been gained by my personal contact with these exceptional men.
There have been times in my life when I fear that I should have lost courage to go forward if! had not had con-stantly before me the example of other men, some of them obscure and almost unknown outside of the communities in which they lived, whose patient, unwavering cheerfulness and good-will, in spite of difficulties, have been a continued inspiration to me.
On my way to Tuskegee for the first time I met one of the finest examples of the type of man I have tried to describe. He was a railroad conductor and his name was Capt. Isaiah C. Howard. For many years he had charge of a train on the Western Railroad of Alabama, between Mont-gomery and Atlanta. I do not know where Captain Howard got his education, or how much he had studied books. I do know that he was born in the South and had spent all his life there. During a period of twenty years I rarely, if ever, met a higher type of the true gentleman, North or South.
I recall one occasion in particular when I was on his train between Atlanta and Montgomery during the Christmas holiday season, when the rougher and more ignorant of my race usually travel in large numbers, and when owing to the general license that has always prevailed during the holiday season, a certain class of colored people are likely to be more or less under the influence of whiskey.
After a time a disturbance arose in the crowd at the lower end of the car. When Captain Howard appeared, some of the men who had been drinking spoke to him in a way that most men, white or black, would have resented. In the case of some men, the language these Negroes used might easily have furnished an occasion for a shooting, the conse-quences of which it was not difficult for me to picture to myself. I was deeply touched to see how, like a wise and patient father, Captain Howard handled these rough fellows. He spoke to them calmly, without the least excitement in his voice or manner, and in a few moments he had obtained almost complete order in the car. After that he gave them a few words of very sensible advice which at once won their respect and gratitude, because they understood the spirit that prompted it.
During all the time that I traveled with him I never saw Captain Howard, even under the most trying circumstances, lose his temper or grow impatient with any class of colored people that he had to deal with. During the long trips that I used to make with him, whenever he had a little leisure time, he would drop down into the seat by my side and we would talk together, sometimes for an hour at a time, on the condi-tion and prospects of the Negro in the South. I remember that he had very definite ideas in regard to the white man's duty and responsibility, and more than once he expressed to me his own reasons for believing that the Negro should be treated with patience and with justice. He used frequently to express the fear that, by allowing himself to get into the habit of treating Negroes with harshness, the white man in the South would be injured more than the Negro.
I have spoken of Captain Howard at some length be-cause he represents a distinct class of white people in the South, of whom an increasing number may be found in nearly every Southern community. He possessed in a very high degree those qualities of kindness, self-control, and general good breeding which belong to the real aristocracy of the South. In his talks with me he frequently explained that he was no "professional" lover of the Negro; that, in fact, he had no special feeling for the Negro or against him, but was interested in seeing fair play for every race and every individual. He said that his real reason for wanting to give the Negro the same chance that other races have was that he loved the South, and he knew that there could be no permanent prosperity unless the lowest and poorest portion of the community was treated with the same justice as the highest and most powerful. I count it a part of my good for-tune to have been thrown, early in my life in Alabama, in contact with such a man as Captain Howard. After knowing him I said to myself: "If, under the circumstances, a white man can learn to be fair to my race instead of hating it, a black man ought to be able to return the compliment."
In connection with my work in Alabama, I early made the acquaintance of another Southern white man, also an Alabamian by birth but of a different type, a man of education and high social and official standing-the late J. L. M. Curry.
It was my privilege to know Doctor Curry well during the last twenty years of his life. He had fought on the side of the Confederacy during the Civil War, he had served as a college professor and as United States Minister to Spain, and had held other high public positions. More than that, he represented, in his personal feelings and ways of thinking, all that was best in the life of the Southern white people.
Notwithstanding the high positions he had held in social and official life, Doctor Curry gave his latter years to the cause of education among the masses of white and colored people in the South, and was never happier than when engaged in this work.
I met Doctor Curry for the first time, in a business way, at Montgomery, Ala. While I was in the Capitol building I happened to be, for a few moments, in a room adjoining that in which Doctor Curry and some other gentlemen were talking, and could not avoid overhearing their conver-sation. They were speaking about Negro education. One of the state officials expressed some doubt about the propriety of a Southern gentleman taking an active part in the educa-tion of the Negro. While I am not able to give his exact words, Doctor Curry replied in substance that he did not believe that he or anyone else had ever lost anything, socially or in any other way, on account of his connection with Negro education.
"On the other hand," Doctor Curry continued, "I believe that Negro education has done a great deal more for me than I have ever been able to do for Negro education."
Then he went on to say that he had never visited a Negro school or performed a kindly act for a Negro man, woman, or child, that he himself was not made stronger and better for it.
Immediately after the Civil War, he said, he had been bitterly opposed to every movement that had been proposed to educate the Negro. After he came to visit some of the colored schools, however, and saw for himself the struggles that the colored people were making to get an education, his prejudice had changed into sympathy and admiration.
As far as my own experience goes-and I have heard the same thing said by others-there is no gentler, kindlier, or more generous type of man anywhere than those Southern white men who, born and bred to those racial and sectional differences which, after the Civil War, were mingled with and intensified by the bitterness of poverty and defeat, have struggled up to the point where they feel nothing but kind-ness to the people of all races and both sections. It is much easier for those who shared in the victory of the Civil War-I mean the Northern white man and the Negro-to emancipate themselves from racial and sectional narrowness.
There is another type of white man in the South who has aided me in getting a broader and more practical con-ception of my work. I refer to the man who has no special sentiment for or against the Negro, but appreciates the importance of the Negro race as a commercial asset-a man like Mr. John M. Parker, of New Orleans. Mr. Parker is the president of the Southern Industrial Congress, and is one of the largest planters in the Gulf States. His firm in New Orleans, I understand, buys and sells more cotton than any other firm in the world. Mr. Parker sees more clearly than any white man in the South with whom I have talked, the fact that it is important to the commercial progress of the country that the Negro should be treated with justice in the courts, in business, and in all the affairs of life. He realizes also that, in order that the Negro may have an incentive to work regularly, he must have his wants increased; and this can be brought about only through education.
I have heard many addresses to colored people in all parts of the country, but I have never heard words more sen-sible, practical, and to the point from the lips of any man than those of an address which Mr. Parker delivered before nearly a thousand Negro farmers at one of the annual Negro Con-ferences at the Tuskegee Institute. Mr. Parker has for years been a large employer of Negro labor on his plantation. He was thus able to speak to the farmers simply and frankly, and, even though he told them some rather unpleasant truths, the audience understood and appreciated not only what was said, but the spirit in which it was uttered.
The hope of the South, so far as the interests of the Negro are concerned, rests very largely upon men like Mr. Parker, who see the close connection between labor, in-dustry, education, and political institutions, and have learned to face the race problem in a large and tolerant spirit, and are seeking to solve it in a practical way.
A quite different type of man with whom I have been thrown in frequent contact is Col. Henry Watterson, of the Louisville Courier-journal. Colonel Watterson seems to me to represent the Southern gentleman of the old school, a man of generous impulses, high ideals, and gracious manner. I have had frequent and long conversations with him about the Negro and about conditions in the South. If there is any-where a man who has broader or more liberal ideas concern-ing the Negro, or any undeveloped race, I have not met him.
A few years ago, when a meeting had been arranged at Carnegie Hall, New York, in order to interest the public in the work of our school at Tuskegee, we were disappointed in securing a distinguished speaker from the South who had promised to be present. At the last moment the committee in charge telegraphed to Colonel Watterson. Although (because of the death of one of his children) he had made up his mind not to speak again in public for some time, Colonel Watterson went to New York from Louisville and made one of the most eloquent speeches in behalf of the Negro that I have ever heard. He told me at the time that nothing but his interest in the work that we were trying to do at Tuskegee would have induced him to leave home at that time.
Whenever I have been tempted to grow embittered or discouraged about conditions in the South, my acquaintance with such men as Mr. Parker and Colonel Watterson has given me new strength and increased my faith.
I have been fortunate also in the colored men with whom I have been associated. There is a class of Negroes in the South who are just as much interested as the best white people in the welfare of the communities in which they live. They are just as much opposed as the best white people to anything that tends to stir up strife between the races. But there are two kinds of colored people, just as there are two kinds of white people.
There is a class of colored people who are narrow in their sympathies, short-sighted in their views, and bitter in their prejudices against the white people. When I first came to Alabama I had to decide whether I could unite with this class in a general crusade of denunciation against the white people of the South, in order to create sympathy in the North for the work that I was seeking to carry on, or whether I would consider the real interests of the masses of my race, and seek to preserve and promote the good rela-tions that already existed between the races.
I do not deny that I was frequently tempted, during the early years of my work, to join in the general denunciation of the evils and injustice that I saw about me. But when I thought the matter over, I saw that such a course would accomplish no good and that it would do a great deal of harm. For one thing, it would serve only to mislead the masses of my own race in regard to the opportunities that existed right about them. Besides that, I saw that the masses of the Negro people had no disposition to carry on any general war against the white people. What they wanted was the help and encouragement of their white neighbors in their efforts to get an education and to improve themselves.
Among the colored men who saw all this quite as clearly as myself was Rufus Herron, of Camp Hill, Ala. He was born in slavery and had had almost no school advan-tages, but he was not lacking in practical wisdom and he was a leader in the community in which he lived. Some years ago, after he had harvested his cotton crop he called to see me at the Tuskegee Institute. He said that he had sold all of his cotton, had got a good price for it, had paid all his debts for the year, and had twenty dollars remaining. He handed me ten dollars and asked me to use it in the education of a student at Tuskegee. He returned to his home and gave the other ten to the teacher of the white school in his vicinity, and asked him to use it in the education of a white student.
Since that day I have come to know Rufus Herron well.
He never misses a session of the annual Tuskegee Negro conference. He is the kind of man that one likes to listen to because he always says something that goes straight to the point, and after he has covered the subject he stops. I do not think that I have ever talked with him that he did not have something to suggest in regard to the material, educational, and moral improvement of the people, or something that might promote better relations between white people and black people. If there is a white man, North or South, that has more love for his community or his country than Rufus Herron, it has not been my good fortune to meet him. In his feelings and ambitions he also is what I have called an aristocrat.
I have no disposition to deny to anyone, black or white, the privilege of speaking out and protesting against wrong and injustice, whenever and wherever they choose to do so. I would do injustice to the facts and to the masses of my people in the South, however, if I did not point out how much more useful a man like Rufus Herron has made his life than the man who spends his time and makes a profes-sion of going about talking about his "rights" and stirring up bitterness between the white people and colored people. The salvation of the Negro race in America is to be worked out, for the most part, not by abstract argument and not by mere denunciation of wrong, but by actual achievement in constructive work.
In Nashville there is another colored man-a banker, a man of education, wealth, and culture. James c. Napier is about the same age as Rufus Herron. I have been closely associated with him for twenty years. I have been with him in the North and in the South; I have worked with him in conventions, and I have talked with him in private in my home and in his home. During all the years that I have known him I have never heard Mr. Napier express a narrow or bitter thought toward the white race. On the contrary, he has shown himself anxious to give publicity to the best deeds of the white people rather than the worst. During the greater part of my life I have done my work in association with such men as he. There is no part of the United States in which I have not met some of this type of colored men. I honor such men all the more because, had they chosen to do so, they could easily have made themselves and those about them continually miserable by dwelling upon the mean things which people say about the race or the injus-tices which are so often a part of the life of the Negro.
Let me add that, so far as I have been able to see, there is no real reason why a Negro in this country should make himself miserable or unhappy. The average white man in the United States has the idea that the average Negro spends most of his time in bemoaning the fact that he is not a white man, or in trying to devise some way by which he will be permitted to mingle, in a purely social way, with white people. This is far from the truth. In my intercourse with all classes of the Negro, North and South, it is a rare occurrence when the matter of getting away from the race, or of social intermingling with the white people, is so much as men- tioned. It is especially true that intelligent Negroes find a satisfaction in social intercourse among themselves that is rarely known or understood by anyone outside of the Negro race. In their family life, in the secret societies and churches, as well as other organizations where colored people come together, the most absorbing topic of conver-sation invariably relates to some enterprise for the better-ment of the race.
Among colored farmers, as among white farmers, the main topic of discussion is naturally the farm. The Negro is, in my opinion, naturally a farmer, and he is at his very best when he is in close contact with the soil. There is something in the atmosphere of the farm that develops and strengthens the Negro's natural common-sense. As a rule the Negro farmer has a rare gift of getting at the sense of things and of stating in picturesque language what he has learned. The explanation of it is, it seems to me, that the Negro farmer studies nature. In his own way he studies the soil, the devel-opment of plants and animals, the streams, the birds, and the changes of the seasons. He has a chance of getting the kind of knowledge that is valuable to him at firsthand.
In a visit some years ago to a Negro farmers' institute in the country, I got a lesson from an unlettered colored farmer which I have never forgotten. I had been invited by one of the Tuskegee graduates to go into the country some miles from Tuskegee to be present at this institute. When I entered the room the members of the institute were holding what they called their farmers' experience meeting. One colored farmer was asked to come up to the platform and give his experience. He was an old man, about sixty-five years of age. He had had no education in the book, but the teacher had reached him, as he had others in the community, and showed him how to improve his methods of farming. When this old man came up to the front of the room to tell his experience, he said: ''I'se never had no chance to study no science, but since dis teacher has been here I'se been trying to make some science for myself."
Thereupon he laid upon the table by his side six stalks of cotton and began to describe in detail how, during the last ten years, he had gradually enriched his land so as to increase the number of bolls of cotton grown upon each individual stalk. He picked up one stalk and showed it to the audience; before the teacher came to the community, he said, and before he began to improve his land, his cotton produced only two bolls to the stalk. The second year he reached the point where, on the same land, he succeeded in producing four bolls on a stalk. Then he showed the second stalk to the audience. After that he picked up the third and fourth stalks, saying that during the last few years he had reached a point where a stalk produced eight bolls.
Finally he picked up the last stalk and said:
"This year I made cotton like dis"-and he showed a stalk containing fourteen bolls. Then the old fellow took his seat.
Some one in the audience from a distance arose and said: "Uncle, will you tell us your name?"
The old fellow arose and said: "Now, as you ask me for my name, I'll tell you. In de old days, before dis teacher come here, I lived in a little log-cabin on rented land, and had to mortgage my crop every year for food. When I didn't have nothin', in dem days, in my community dey used to call me 'Old Jim Hill.' But now I'se out 0' debt; I'se de deeds for fifty acres of land; and I lives in a nice house wid four rooms that's painted inside and outside; I'se got some money in de bank; I'se a taxpayer in my community; I'se edicated my children. And now, in my community, dey calls me 'Mr. James Hill.'
The old fellow had not only learned to raise cotton during these ten years, but, so far as he was concerned, he had solved the race problem.
As one travels through the Southland, he is continually meeting old Negro farmers like the one that I have described. It has been one of the great satisfactions of my life to be able from time to time to go out into the heart of the country, on the plantations and on the farms where the masses of the colored people live. I like to get into the fields and into the woods where they are at work and talk with them. I like to attend their churches and Sunday-schools and camp-meetings and revival meetings. In this way I have gotten more material which has been of service to me in writing and speaking than I have ever gotten by reading books. There are no frills about the ordinary Negro farmer, no pretence. He, at least, is himself and no one else. There is no type of man that I more enjoy meeting and knowing.
A disadvantaged race has, too, the advantage of coming in contact with the best in the North, and this again has been my good fortune. There are two classes of people in the North-one that is just as narrow and unreasonable toward the white man at the South as any Southern white man can be toward the Negro or a Northern white man. I have always chosen to deal with the other white man at the North-the man with large and liberal views.
In saying this I make an exception of the "professional" friend of the Negro. I have little patience with the man who parades himself as the "professional" friend of any race. The "professional" friend of the Chinese or Japanese or Filipino is frequently a well-meaning person, but he is always tire-some. I like to meet the man who is interested in the Negro because he is a human being. I like to talk with the man who wants to help the Negro because he is a member of the human family, and because he believes that, in helping the Negro, he is helping to make this a better world to live in.
During the twenty-five years and more that I have been accustomed to go North every year to obtain funds with which to build up and support the Tuskegee Institute, I have made the acquaintance of a large number of exceptional people in that part of the country. Because I was seeking aid for Negro education, seeking assistance in giving opportuni-ties to a neglected portion of our population, I had an oppor-tunity to meet these people in a different and, perhaps, more intimate way than the average man. I had an opportunity to see a side of their lives of which many of their business acquaintances, perhaps, did not know the existence.
Few people, I dare say, who were acquainted with the late Mr. H. H. Rogers, former head of the Standard Oil Company, knew that he had any special interest or sympathy for the Negro. I remember well, however, an occasion when he showed this interest and sympathy. I was showing him one day the copy of a little Negro farmers' newspaper, pub-lished at Tuskegee, containing an account of the efforts the people in one of our country communities were making to raise a sum of money among themselves in order that they might receive the aid he had promised them in building a school house. As Mr. Rogers read the account of this school "rally," as it was called, and looked down the long list of names of the individuals who in order to make up the required sum, had contributed out of their poverty, some a penny, some five cents, some twenty-five, some a dollar and a few as much as five dollars, his eyes filled with tears. I do not think he ever before realized, as he did at that moment, the great power-and the great power for good-which his money gave them.
During the last years of his life, Mr. Rogers was greatly
interested in the building of the Virginian Railway, which was constructed upon his own plans and almost wholly with his own capital, from Norfolk, Va., to Deep Water, W Va. One of the first things he did, after this new railway was completed, was to make arrangements for a special train in order that I might travel over and speak at the different towns to the colored people along the line and, at the same time, study their situation in order that something might be done to improve their condition. From his point of view, these people were part of the resources of the country which he wanted to develop. He desired to see the whole country, through which this railway passed, which, up to that time, had remained in a somewhat backward condition, made prosperous and flourishing and filled with thriving towns and with an industrious and happy people. He died, however, just as he seemed on the eve of realizing this dream.
For a number of years before his death, I knew Mr. H.
H. Rogers intimately. I used to see him frequently in his office in New York; sometimes I made trips with him on his yacht. At such times I had opportunity to talk over in detail the work that I was trying to do. Mr. Rogers had one of the most powerful and resourceful minds of any man I ever met. His connection with large business affairs had given him a broad vision and practical grasp of public and social ques-tions, and I learned much from my contact with him.
In this connection I might name another individual who represents another and entirely different type of man, with whom I have frequently come in contact during my travels through the Northern states. I refer to Mr. Oswald Garrison Villard, editor of the New York Evening Post. Mr. Villard is not primarily a business man in the sense that Mr. Rogers was, and his interest in the education and progress of the Negro is of a very different kind from that of Mr. Rogers; at least he approaches the matter from a very dif-ferent point of view.
Mr. Villard is the grandson of William Lloyd Garrison, the abolitionist. He is a literary man and idealist, and he cherishes all the intense zeal for the rights of the Negro which his grandfather before him displayed. He is anxious and determined that the Negro shall have every right and every opportunity that any other race of people has in this country. He is the outspoken opponent of every institution and every individual who seeks to limit in any way the freedom of any man or class of men anywhere. He has not only continued in the same way and by much the same methods that his grandfather used, to fight the battles for human liberty, but he has interested himself in the education of the Negro. It is due to the suggestion and largely to the work of Mr. Villard that Tuskegee, at the celebration of its twenty-fifth anniversary received the $150,000 memorial fund to commemorate the name and service of Mr. William H. Baldwin to Tuskegee and Negro education in the South. Mr. Villard has given much of his time and personal service to the work of helping and building up some of the smaller and struggling Negro schools in the South. He is a trustee of at least two of such institutions, being president of the board of trustees in one case, and takes an active part in the direction and control of their work. He has recently been active and, in fact, is largely responsible for the organization of the National Association for the Advancement of the Colored People, a sort of national vigilance committee, which will watch over and guard the rights and interests of the race, and seek through the courts, through legislation, and through other public and private means, to redress the wrongs from which the race now suffers in different parts of the country.
Perhaps I ought to add in fairness that, while I sympa-thize fully with Mr. Villard's purposes, I have frequently dif-fered with him as to the methods he has used to accomplish them. Sometimes he has criticized me publicly in his news-paper and privately in conversation. Nevertheless, during all this time, I have always felt that I retained his friendship and good-will. I do not think there has ever been a time when I went to him with a request of any kind either for myself personally or to obtain his help in any way in the work in which I was engaged that he has not shown himself willing and anxious to do everything in his power to assist me. While I have not always been able to follow his suggestions, or agree with him as to the methods I should pursue, I have, nevertheless, I think, profited by his criticism and have always felt and appreciated the bracing effect upon public sentiment of his vigorous and uncompromising spirit.
I have learned also from Mr. Villard the lesson that per-sons who have a common purpose may still maintain helpful, friendly relations, even if they do differ as to details and choose to travel to the common goal by different roads.
Another man who has exercised a deep influence upon me is Robert C. Ogden. Some months after I became a stu-dent at Hampton Institute, Mr. Robert C. Ogden, in company with a number of other gentlemen from New York, came to Hampton on a visit. It was the first time I ever saw him and the first sight of a man of the physical, mental, and moral build of Mr. Ogden----strong, fresh, clean, vigorous-made an impression upon me that it is hard for anyone not in my sit-uation to appreciate. The thing that impressed me most was this: Here was a man, intensely earnest and practical, a man who was deeply engrossed in business affairs, who still found time to turn aside from his business and give a portion of his time and thought to the elevation of an unfortunate race.
Mr. Ogden is a man of a very different type from either Mr. Rogers or Mr. Villard. He does not look at the question of uplifting the Negro as a question of rights and liberty exclusively: he does not think of it merely as a means of developing one of the neglected resources of the South. He looks upon it, if I may venture to say so, as a question of humanity. Mr. Ogden is intensely interested in human beings; he cannot think of an unfortunate individual or class of individuals without feeling a strong impulse to help them. He has spent a large portion of his time, energy, and fortune in inspiring a large number of other people with that same sentiment. I do not believe any man has done more than Mr. Ogden to spread, among the masses of the people, a spirit of unselfish service to the interests of humanity, irrespective of geographical, sectarian or racial distinction.
Perhaps I can in no better way give an idea of what Mr.
Ogden has accomplished in this direction than by giving a list of some of the activities in which he has been engaged. Mr. Ogden is:
President and only Northern member of the Conference for Southern Education,
President of the Southern Education Board,
President of the Board of Trustees of Hampton Institute, Trustee of Tuskegee Institute,
Trustee of the Anna T. Jeans Fund for Improvement of the Negro Common School,
Member of the General Education Board.
From this it will be seen that Mr. Ogden is directly con-nected with almost every important movement for educa-tion in the South, whether for white people or for black
people. In addition to that he is president of the Board of Directors of the Union Theological Seminary of New York, member of the Sage Foundation Board, and of the Presby-terian Board of Home Missions. In all these different direc-tions he has worked quietly, steadily, without stinting himself, for the good of the whole country. Many of the sentiments which he has expressed in his annual addresses at the meet-ings of these different organizations have in them the breadth of view of a real statesman. His idea was that in giving an equal opportunity for education to every class in the com-munity he was laying the foundation for a real democracy. He spoke of the educational conference, for instance, as "a congress called by the voice of' democracy"; and again he said of this same institution, "Its foundation is the proposition that every American child is entitled to an education."
In spite of what he has done in a multitude of ways to advance education, I have heard Mr. Ogden say, both in public and in private, that he was not an educated man. Per-haps he has not gotten so much education in the usual, formal, technical matter out of books as some other people. But through the study of books, or men, or things, Mr. Ogden has secured the finest kind of education, and deserves to be classed with the scholars of the world. So far as I have studied Mr. Ogden's career, it is of interest and value to the public in three directions:
First: He has been a successful business man.
Second: More than any other one individual except Gen. S. C. Armstrong, he has been the leader in a movement to educate the whole South, regardless of race or color.
Third: In many important matters relating to moral and religious education in the North, Mr. Ogden is an important leader. I know of few men in America whose life can be held up before young people as a model as can Mr. Ogden's life.
It would be difficult for me to describe or define the manner and extent to which I have been influenced and educated by my contact with Mr. Ogden. It was character-istic of him, that the only reason I came to know him is because I needed him, needed him in the work which I was trying to do. Had I not been a Negro I would probably never have had the rare experience of meeting and knowing intimately a man who stands so high in every walk of life as Mr. Robert C. Ogden. Had Mr. Ogden been a weak man, seeking his own peace of mind and social position, he would not have been brave enough and strong enough to ignore adverse criticism in his efforts to serve the unfortunate of both races in the South, and in that case I should probably not have made his acquaintance.
The men that I have mentioned are but types of many others, men intellectually and spiritually great, who, directly and indirectly, have given comfort, help, and counsel to the ten millions of my race in America.