“Dear Sir: Your favor of May 28 informing me of the desire of Harvard University to confer an honorary degree upon me at the next Commencement-June 24, is received. In reply I would say that the information is a great surprise to me. I shall be present at the time you name. Yours Sincerely,” “June 1, 1896,” -Booker T. Washington
Indeed and of a most sincere truth, “a prophet is not without honor except for his own hometown.” Although the founding principal and president of Tuskegee Institute (University), Booker T. Washington, experienced many dark days, many other days were alighted. And such was the day when he was notified that Harvard University would be conferring upon him an honorary degree. To be sure, nearly halfway through his tenure at Tuskegee University-some 15 years into his presidency (1881-1896)-Mr. Washington was appreciated within his university for the strides he had made to build a university. Notwithstanding such appreciation, when one receives commendations from external persons and entities-particularly in the class of Harvard University-it is especially heartening for a leader. For such commendations provide validation and confirmation that excellent and visionary leadership, which is the best leadership, transcends all boundaries.
Brian L. Johnson, Ph.D.