“In my contact with people I find that, as a rule, it is only the little, narrow people who live for themselves, who never read good books, who do not travel, who never open up their souls in a way to permit them to come into contact with other souls-with the great outside world. No man whose vision is bounded by colour can come into contact with what is highest and best in the world.” -Booker T. Washington, (1901) Up From Slavery
Presidential Commentary by Dr. Brian Johnson
Try as we might, there is really no way to get around what the founding principal and president of Tuskegee (Institute) University suggests about parochial (narrow-minded), unlearned and partisan persons whose experiences and perspectives are limited to one race or another. “Breadth” and “Depth” is the greatest 5 and 7-Letter combination, and Booker T. Washington suggests that the most well-read men and women are also the most well-bred men and women-born again through the breadth and depth found in books. Now, “vision”-the greatest 6-letter word and perhaps the greatest in all of the English language-requires applicability that is neither “bounded” or constrained “by colour”. Men and women like Booker T. Washington, Susan B. Anthony and Martin Luther King, Jr.-even Cyrus “the Great,” the greatest historical leader this writer has read and studied-whose “vision” out of necessity could not be bound by a kind of narrowness and provincialism based upon color. These men and women needed, relied upon and facilitated a host of persons and organizations to unite to support a common vision ranging from Tuskegee University to the Civil Rights Movement. Moreover, “leader,” in this writer’s opinion, is the second greatest 6-letter word, and a leader must articulate a “vision” so broad and deep that its applicability reaches far and wide and it’s dissemination not only cannot be confined but will increase and multiply. Everyone without respect of color can connect to such vision and cultivating such vision comes through both reading and reading well. (Hear this again, what one consistently reads, one will consistently become.) And if a man or woman (or Tuskegee University student) would ever seek to become a “visionary leader,” then they need read no further than Tuskegee University’s founding principal and president-the man, Booker T. Washington.
Brian L. Johnson, Ph.D.
7th President, Tuskegee University