booker t. washington portrait

Before The Afro American Council

Extracts from an Address at the Close of the Annual Session

October 11, 1906
New York, NY

The Tuskegee Student 18 (Oct. 27, 1906).

In the season of disturbance and excitement, if others yield to the temptation of losing control of their judgment and give way to passion and prejudice, let us as a race teach the world that we have learned the great lesson of calmness and self-control, that we are determined to be governed by reason rather than by feeling. Our victories in the past have come to us through our ability to be calm and patient, often while enduring great wrong.

Again, I am most anxious, and I know that in this respect it is the sentiment of every conservative member of our race that our race everywhere bears the reputation of a law-abiding and law-respecting people. If others would break the law and trample it under foot, let us keep and respect it and teach our children to follow our example. In this connection I repeat what I have urged on a recent occasion, every iota of influence that we possess should be used to get rid of the criminal and loafing element of our people and then make decent law-abiding citizens.

To the members of my race who reside in the Northern States let me utter the caution that, in your enthusiastic desire to be of service to your brethren in the South, you do not make their path more thorny and difficult by rash and intemperate utterances. Before giving advice to the Negro in the South, the Negro in the North should be very willing to take it into the heart of the South and put into practice. Be careful not to assist in lighting a fire which you will have no ability to put out.

Some may think that the problems with which we are grappling will be better solved by inducing millions of our people to leave the South for residence in the North, but I warn you that instead of this being a solution it will but add to the complications of the problem. While condemning the giving of prominence to the work of the mob in the South, we should not fail to give due credit to those of the White race who stood manfully and courageously on the side of law and order during the recent trying times throughout which this section of our country has been passing. During the racial disturbances the country very seldom hears of the brave and heroic acts seldom heralded throughout the press. The indiscriminate condemnation of all white people on the part of any member of our race is a suicidal and dangerous policy. We must learn to discriminate. We have strong friends both in the South. We can not afford to class all as our enemies. The country must learn to differentiate between the people. We must frankly face the fact that the great body of our people are to dwell in the South, and any policy that does not seek to harmonize the two races and cement them is unwise and dangerous.

Creation-construction in the material, civic, educational, moral and religious world, is what makes races great. Any child can cry and fret, but it requires a full grown man to create - to construct. Let me implore you to teach the members of our race everywhere that they must become, in an increasing degree, creators of their own careers.