“Dear Gen’l [Armstrong]: Soon after our conversation in Phila.[delphia] I arrived here and found a letter announcing that the Misses Mason had given us $7000. Faith [Washington italics] and hard work [Washington italics] I find will accomplish anything. Yours &c” -B.T. Washington, November 26, 1885
Presidential Commentary by Dr. Brian Johnson
We all tend to misconstrue notions of the importance of “faith” and “hard work.” For some, “faith” is the single most important attribute-absent any personal diligence, integrity, work and sacrifice-all of which is critical to achievement and accomplishment. And, for others, “hard work” is the all-encompassing personal quality that is sufficient for all things achieved in life. However, Mr. Washington suggests that both are required, and our daily lives suggest the same. There are a great many pursuits that we have diligently “worked hard” towards that have simply not yielded expected results. And there are those pursuits where “faith” exercised towards an expressed desire was all that one could do under the circumstances, and it produced unexpected success. (And such “faith” was more times than not unmerited.) All the same, the two qualities listed here in Mr. Washington’s letter-“faith” and “hard work”-are the highest ideals in daily accomplishment leading towards long-term success. For our words of sincere desire must always work together with our works of sincere effort because when daily difficulties push the one, the other stands ready to push back.
Brian L. Johnson, Ph.D.
7th President, Tuskegee University