“[To Charles Winter Wood] Fear Booker still unwell. Go Wellesley at once and have full consultation with Mr. Brenner. If you and he think wise and necessary have good physician give Booker thorough examination and do whatever is best for him at any reasonable expense. Have all your dealings with Mr. Benner and do nothing he does not approve. Find out how Booker getting on in every way. Telegraph answer my expense after you have been to Wellesley.”– “May 21, 1904,” Booker T. Washington
Presidential Commentary by Dr. Brian Johnson
In still another correspondence demonstrating the paternal regard he had for his son, Booker during his tenure at Wellesley school for the boys, the founding principal and president of Tuskegee (Institute) University once again demonstrates concern for his son yet without undermining the authority of Mr. Brenner, the principal and chief administrator of Wellesley. It is clear that a man of Booker T.Washington’s eminence, renown, position and wealth might have easily sought to “go around” the principal to have his designate attend to his son. However, he did not do so. As a principal and president of an educational institution himself, he fully understood policy, process and protocol. (How could he have otherwise expected others to respect his authority and process as principal of Tuskegee Institute if he did not respect the authority and process of Mr. Benner, principal of Wellesley?) He did not seek advantage upon the grounds of patronage, parentage, position or prominence with respect to young Booker. Instead, he instructed his designate, one Mr. Charles Winter Wood, as follows: “Have all your dealings with Mr. Benner and do nothing he does not approve.” Here again, “integrity” is the greatest 9-letter word, and one’s words ought to necessarily be synonymous with one’s works. What Mr. Washington expected from others during his tenure at the helm of Tuskegee (Institute) University is in turn what he expected of himself.
Brian L. Johnson, Ph.D.
7th President, Tuskegee University