“One of the most striking things about Mr. Roosevelt, both in private and public life, is his frankness. I have been often amazed at the absolute directness and candour of his speech. He does not seem to know how to hide anything. In fact, he seems to think aloud. Many people have referred to him as being impulsive and as acting without due consideration. From what I have seen of Mr. Roosevelt in this regard, I have reached the conclusion that what people describe as impulsiveness in him is nothing else but quickness of thought. While other people are thinking around a question, he thinks through it. He reaches his conclusions while other people are considering the preliminaries. He cuts across the field, as it were, in his methods of thinking.”– Booker T. Washington, My Larger Education (1911)
Presidential Commentary by Dr. Brian Johnson
One can be slow to act if one is quick to understand. And the founding principal and president of Tuskegee (Institute) describes this attribute of intelligence in one of the world’s most esteemed men: Theodore Roosevelt. Quick wittedness or (being quick to understand or know) is often unfavorably interpreted. Like a world class musician upon an instrument, a person in such a class as Roosevelt–and Mr. Washington who was able to recognize such a quality-might simply find it difficult to explain the attribute of “quickness of thought,” and others might find it difficult to believe that such an attribute of “quickness of thought” exists. And while it is true what C.S. Lewis writes, “education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil,” such was not the case with men like Roosevelt and Washington. For the works of these men-not merely their words-attest to the fact that the employment of their unique gifts were for the good of others. This is particularly true of Booker T. Washington who Tuskegee University celebrates in this the centennial year since his passing (1915-2015). This man possessed not only the intellectual attribute of “quickness of thought” but also the following greatest 6-letter words: Vision-Leader-Genius.
Brian L. Johnson, Ph.D.