“Matter already attended to…Will send you paper with announcement.” -November 12, 1902, “From Emmett Jay Scott to Booker T. Washington”
Presidential Commentary by Dr. Brian Johnson
A man or woman situated similar to the founding principal and president of Tuskegee (Institute) University can hear no more satisfying words than the following: “Matter already attended to…” And this refrain, “[the] matter [has] already [been] attended to” is typically uttered by the best and most successful employees. And Booker T. Washington’s long-time aid, Emmett Jay Scott, was such an employee. (Note: If a man or woman could successfully work for Booker T. Washington, he could go on to successfully work for anyone, which Mr. Scott did at the highest federal levels.) For the man Booker-as demonstrated in his correspondence-was a man of integrity, knowledge, exacting detail and substance-not messiness, ignorance or fluff. He managed serious matters within the Tuskegee organization that impacted both the “macro” and “micro,” and to have one of his subordinates to express in response to an earlier query that “[the] matter [has] already [been] attended to” must have brought deep delight and satisfaction to Mr. Washington. For when a “matter [has] already [been] attended to” in an organization as large as the one he served as chief executive officer over, he need not attend to it. Moreover, if he need not attend to such matters then he could go on to attend to matters that he alone could attend to. And herein lies the deep delight and satisfaction. For like Booker T. Washington’s long and impressive 34-year leadership at the helm of Tuskegee University, the best leaders select the best men and women that enable him or her to lead. And Mr. Washington’s success at selecting such able men and women is evidenced in that his leadership is celebrated at Tuskegee University in this the centennial year since his passing (1915-2015).
Brian L. Johnson, Ph.D.