June 26, 2022
Booker T Washington
I recently read a biography on Booker T. Washington, the founder of Tuskegee University in Alabama. With racial tension in our society being so high, I wanted to get a perspective from someone who lived through slavery at the height of racial tensions. As a black man, I found the biography, “Up From Slavery” to be encouraging.
Booker T. Washington was raised on a slave plantation yet ascended in leadership and was well known and respected in both the black and white community. His success was not based on his color, but on his character and devotion to the education and advancement of the black community.
Booker T. Washington seized the opportunity to take classes between shifts while working for a salt furnace after his family was freed from slavery through the Emancipation Proclamation. Washington’s own determination to better himself forged attributes in his character that would help others persevere adversity as well.
Washington recites his journey to Hampton Institute in Virginia. While traveling to his destination, Washington ran out of money in Richmond. He slept under a sidewalk at night and secured a job loading cargo ships for money in the daytime. Washington was determined to pursue his dream of obtaining an education, whatever it takes.
The trials and tribulations Booker T. Washington endured are emblematic of challenges in life that we can encounter. Granted, we may not undergo the same struggles that Washington faced, but life will be filled with challenges. The question is will we meet those challenges or surrender to them.
As people of faith, we don’t rely on our own strength, but the strength we find in God. Somehow God always makes a way. Somehow God always shows up in the middle of our challenges.
Looking at the life of Booker T. Washington, who was a man of faith, you see the divine hand of God. For example, Washington took a position to clean the home of a prominent family in West Virginia. The lady he worked for taught him good work ethics and how to maintain a home well. When Washington arrived at the Hampton Institution, the teacher of assignments gave him a broom and told him to clean the recitation room. Washington gives credit to the training he received in West Virginia learning to clean well for his acceptance into the Hampton Institution. In a way, it showed his values and worth to the institution.
The divine hand of God works in tandem with our willingness to act. Philippines 2:13 states, "For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (NLT) The godly ambitions and desires we have come from the Lord. However, we have a part in causing the ambitions and desires to come to past.
After receiving his education from the Hampton Institute and spending some time teaching in his hometown of West Virginia, Booker T. Washington accepted a position to teach in Tuskegee, Alabama. Washington taught students in a small shanty and a vacant church building.
Soon the school expanded, and a hen house was cleaned and utilized as a classroom. Washington was a hard worker, which inspired others to join his efforts. Washington’s work ethics and dedication were the cornerstones of the school. In fact, the buildings erected on the grounds of the Tuskegee Institution were built by attending students. Students also harvested crops essential for food.
Washington shares this thought regarding pursuing dreams and ambitions, “In order to be successful in any kind of undertaking, I think the main thing is for one to grow to the point where he completely forgets himself; that is, to lose himself in a great cause.”
This advice is similar to the Apostle Paul's advice to his young protégé Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:15, “Give your complete attention to these matters. Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress.” (NLT)
In summary, God works and in and through us to accomplish His good purpose. For us, we must be dedicated to seeing that purpose through. Give it what it takes.
By: Cornelius Murphy, C.A.R.E. Director, Calvary Chuch Dover, DE
Today’s Scripture: For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. (Philippians 2:13, NLT)
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