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Collection African American Perspectives: Materials Selected from the Rare Book Collection


Nearly a decade after he gave his controversial address at the opening of the Atlanta Cotton States and International Exposition, the renowned African-American spokesman Booker T. Washington appeared at a meeting in New York's Madison Square Garden to speak on behalf of the Hampton Institute.

Negro Education Not a Failure. Booker T. Washington (Tuskegee, Ala.?, 1904?)

Turning from the ongoing debate over whether an industrial or academic education would better serve African Americans,the Hampton alumnus and Tuskegee Institute founder focused on the merit and progress of all efforts to educate African Americans. Using testimonies and statistics, including responses to his own survey of "representative Southern men," Washington aimed to prove "from both a moral and religious point of view, what measure of education the Negro has received, has paid, and there has been no step backward in any state."

Throughout his address, he emphasized the need for funding and support for education, concluding that "with all the Negro is doing for himself, with all the white people in the South are doing for themselves, and despite all that one race is doing to help the other, the present opportunities for education are woefully inadequate for both races."

In this speech, delivered at the National Educational Convention in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1884, the Massachusetts minister Amory Dwight Mayo offers an optimistic look at the educational situation of Southern African Americans. Recalling experiences from his four-year "ministry of education" through fourteen Southern states, Mayo provides several "notes of hope and cheer."

Last Words from the South. Amory Dwight Mayo (Boston, 1885)

He asserts that "the most influential people of the South, of all classes and both races, are learning the true American way of education, by learning to help themselves." He also reports a revival of industrial life and praises the efforts of female educators, stating that "no class of persons to-day is doing more to meet the high demand of the country than the leading class of woman-teachers in every grade of the American school." Mayo closes with a plea for the nation to continue to support education in the South, calling it a "noblest privilege" and "imperative duty."

This pamphlet also includes a full-page advertisement for the New England Publishing Company that lists and describes a variety of publications for teachers and students.