“My dear Mr. Fortune: […] There is no need why every colored man who graduates at college should go to teaching or preaching. If we do not through the instrumentality of the stronger brain in the race, lay hold of the business and industrial openings in the South during the next 10 years these opportunities will pass beyond our recall.” -Booker T. Washington, March 1, 1899
Presidential Commentary by Dr. Brian Johnson
While, in hindsight, one may argue that Mr. Washington’s platform lent itself to “accommodationist” thinking-though several scholars and historians have revisited and reinterpreted this view of Mr. Washington-the thrust of his assertion that many students have resigned themselves “to teaching or preaching” has strong reverberations for the present. It was untrue then and remains so now, that the highest service one can render to mankind must come in the form of “teaching and preaching.” To be sure the nobility and servanthood associated with these two worthy professions are admirable. All the same, what Mr. Washington recognized then is what most university and college graduates have come to recognize now: Calling (vocation) is not Confined to a single Category. And Certainly, in this the Centennial year’s Celebration Commemorating the 100 years since the passing of the founding principal and president of Tuskegee University, Booker T. Washington, we clearly Can Confirm the Calling of one of the great educators in any Century.
Brian L. Johnson, Ph.D.
7th President, Tuskegee University