As an orthodox DuBoisian, I had become intolerant of Booker T. Washington‘s philosophy. I may be in the process of reconsidering.
In the first chapter of his autobiography Up From Slavery [of which I read 4 times yesterday as part of a sub assignment, sigh], Washington discusses the institution of slavery at length as well as the Civil War.
Very curious thoughts, and a refreshing take.
“The slave system on our place, in a large measure, took the spirit of self-reliance and self-help out of the white people.”
UPON HEARING THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION:
“These were the questions of a home, a living, the rearing of children, education, citizenship, and the establishment and support of churches. Was it any wonder that within a few hours the wild rejoicing and a feeling of deep gloom seemed to pervade the slave quarters? To some it seemed that, now that they were actually in actual possession of it, freedom was more of a serious thing than they had expected to find it.”
I am sorry to break the news to Booker, but freedom is not something that can be “possessed” for it is a free gift of God’s grace, and no government or religion can claim to “give” freedom as such. The enslaved Africans were already free, they were just in the condition of being enslaved.
ON THE REASON FOR THE CIVIL WAR:
“When war was begun between the North and the South, every slave on our plantation felt that and knew that, though other issues were discussed, the primal one was that of slavery.”
For more on the history of the Civil War, check out a few of Joel’s posts: