“To John Henry Washington [Booker T. Washington’s older brother who also worked at Tuskegee Institute]. Mr. J.H. Washington, Supt Industries: As to the Barn I notice the plows, wagons &c under the barn are not kept in an orderly systematic manner. They are thrown here and there much as one would see them on an ordinary country farm. This should not be so.” -Booker T. Washington, [Tuskegee, Ala.], August 31, 1891
Presidential Commentary by Dr. Brian Johnson
In the lore of Tuskegee Institute’s illustrious history, there are scores of accounts, stories, and anecdotes about the meticulous management of its founding Principal and President Booker T. Washington. (This was all in addition to his visioning and planning at a macro level.) From his daily rounds around campus on his horse to his quick admonition of a student who was not properly attired, Mr. Washington’s attention to all things Tuskegee is often unknown to persons beyond the Tuskegee Institute (University) family. And this piece of correspondence directed to his own older brother speaks volumes about how his management was without “respect of persons.” Mr. John Henry Washington played a pivotal role in the founding and development of Tuskegee Institute (University). Moreover, he played an important role in the life of his little brother Booker. For it was he who assisted younger Booker’s efforts to receive a formal education. All the same, Booker played no favorites in communicating with his brother-his older brother-concerning those matters that lie within his charge. And in order to provide such correction, Mr. Washington must have went out from his office and home to observe and inspect those things within his brother’s charge. Imagine this, in addition to all of his activities, the founding Principal and President made time to visit and inspect both the barn and underneath the barn-even his own brother’s barn. Such a tenacious commitment to consistency surely must have resonated with all other employees within Tuskegee Institute. For surely if the Tuskegee Institute (University) President found the time to inspect, correct and communicate with his own older brother about his area, he would surely make the time to inspect, correct and communicate with anyone else about their areas.
Brian L. Johnson, Ph.D.
7th President, Tuskegee University