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tv   Reel America Booker T. Washington The Life and the Legacy - 1986  CSPAN  February 23, 2019 8:01am-8:36am EST

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life. including the establishment of the tuskegee institute in alabama. this is just over half an hour. ♪ >> the year is 1881. the place, tuskegee, alabama. with 2000 residents, most of them are people of color. it's the smallest county seat in the state. anti-black violence is not uncommon. segregation continues to separate the races socially, politically, and economically. yet it is here that young booker t. washington will bring tuskegee institute into being.
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barely 24 years of age, this young man will create a chain of events over the next 34 years of his life that will affect all americans. black and white. from 1881 to 1915, he will achieve what to many is considered the impossible. he will build one of the most impressive educational institutions in america. he will become the center of heated controversy. debates, even riots. by the time of his death, he will be known throughout the world. >> you want to know about his days here? >> i believe washington was 16 when he came to hampton. >> you should've seen him when he got to the capital. he walked most of the way.
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400 miles from the west virginia coal country where he lived. >> samuel chapman armstrong, it was here that booker t. washington developed his ideas on industrial education. >> he went back home to west virginia after graduation. did some teaching, dabbled in politics. even went to a seminary in washington for a bit. i brought him back here in 79, put him in charge of the indian students. we had 75 of them. he did a fine job. and then came tuskegee. when those gentlemen asked my advice, it didn't take me long to make up my mind. history proved me right. >> despite the obstacles and difficulties he confronted in setting up the institute, washington remained optimistic about the future of this place. his first impressions of the
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town, filling him with a sense of opportunity. >> before starting for tuskegee, i found it almost impossible to locate on any map. instead of finding my work in a low, marshy country as expected, i found tuskegee a beautiful, quiet town with a healthy location. as a rule, the colored people all through this section are poor and ignorant. but the one encouraging thing is that they see their weaknesses and are desirous of improving. >>the reason i asked you to come today is because i wanted to see this filling the room to the rafters. >> his ability to influence important individuals and win their support for his visionary goals.
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>> i found a farm for sale. 100 acres. it will have space and shops and classrooms. we will need to advance $400 to advance the cost. >> we don't have that kind of money. >> i've contacted general james marshall of massachusetts. he's a dear friend of general armstrong and quite wealthy. he believes very strongly in our work here. he has sent the money. >> he has sent the money. >> booker, you are always three steps ahead of everybody. you rascal. [laughter] i suppose he will put up buildings, too. >> no, sir. we will. if we need bricks, we will make them. we are dedicated to an ideal. it's our object is around the -- to surround the student with such an error of business and industry that it
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will be next to impossible for him to not make himself felt in business or some other sphere of usefulness. >> i didn't come here to be no bricklayer. >> what's that you said? >> nothing, sir. >> don't sass me boy. >> i said, i didn't come here to be a bricklayer. >> i guess you would rather be somewhere learning greek? is that what you think in education is all about? you are from alabama, aren't you? >> yes, sir. >> do many negroes there speak greek? [laughter] >> no sir. of course not. >> they are in need of houses? >> they are in need real bad. >> you should serve your neighbor by speaking greek? or by building them a better house? >> i understand, sir.
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>> i hope so. get back to work. >> washington's iron will and strong sense of discipline worked wonders. his institution began to grow out of the alabama. -- out of the alabama mud. a new era of educational opportunity is dawning. one of the supreme ironies in washington's career concerns the contributions that allowed his institute to expand and prosper. his critics claim that by his dependence on the kindness of the carnegie's and rockefellers, he had become their unwitting tool. forced by his need for their continued support into adopting positions that may not necessarily reflect the best interest of the country's blacks.
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long island railroad president william henry baldwin jr. became washington's great friend as well as his staunchest supporter. i understand that you are very supportive of booker t. washington. >> oh yes. the work he is doing at tuskegee is exactly right. not just for the colored people but for the entire south. he's not a firebrand or rabble-rouser. he's a master politician. we are sitting on a powder keg. he understands that most white people will never accept them as their social equals. >> i think there are many who would disagree with that statement. >> they are not intelligent. that is a real mistake in their thinking. i know there are some liberal white people who seem to be talking against tuskegee. what they are really against, booker t. washington's politics.
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>> his role is growing? >> of course. his political enemies shouldn't let their opposition blinds them to the fact that tuskegee works. it is training thousands and doing a fine job of it. just look around the south. schools based on his philosophy are springing up all over. >> among those applying for a teaching position is a harvard man, w.e.b. du bois. though accepted, he will take a position at a black college in the midwest. he will become the premier black intellectual of his era, looming large in the controversies that will demonstrate the complexities of washington's character. under washington's stewardship, the institute is on its way to becoming an educational model. uniquely suited to the needs of the southern black community that washington understands so well. he works ceaselessly, keeping abreast of every detail of the
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school's operation. continuing also his exhausting schedule of fundraising. national recognition comes with his speech in 1884. and as a result of the nationwide success of his autobiography. america learns that there are blacks in the south seriously trying to shape their own destiny. developing plans to survive and advance despite the hostility of their white neighbors. the word goes out that this little campus in the backwaters of alabama is becoming a major force. william baldwin remembers. >> the atlanta exposition put us further. douglas had recently died. his death left a vacuum and egro leadership.
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booker t. washington filled it. >> the exposition was a big event? >> the biggest. it showed the world that the south was on its feet again. recovered from the war and reconstruction. there were acres of exhibit. every aspect of southern life was on display. booker t. washington stole the show. when he spoke at the opening day ceremony, his was the voice of every black person in the nation. >> perhaps not quite everyone. >> that day, he spoke for all of them. i was so nervous i couldn't go into the hall. i wandered around outside. i heard applause. wave upon wave of it. that day he spoke with an angel's silver tongue. >> to those of my race who underestimate the importance of cultivating the friendly
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relations with the southern white man who is your next-door neighbor. i would say cast down your bucket where you are. [applause] cast it down by making friends in every manly way of the people . [applause] >> cast it down in agriculture. in mechanics. in commerce. in domestic service. and the professions.
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no race can prosper until it learns there is as much dignity in tilling a field as owning a farm. nor should we allow our grievances to overshadow our humanity. [applause] >> in all things that are purely social, we can be as seperate as the fingers and yet as one as the hand for mutual progress. >> overnight, he became the anointed leader of negro america. w.e.b. du bois remembers. >> it stunned the nation after decades of our people's complaints. it startled and won the applause of the fellows.
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it interested the north. after a confused murmur of protest, in silence. >> you supported washington at this point? >> as a matter of fact, i was here. i wrote a letter to that effect. here it is. my dear mr. washington, let me congratulate you upon your congratulate you upon your phenomenal success at atlanta. it was fitly spoken. i thought at the time that the atlanta compromise could be a step toward reaching a real settlement between blacks and whites in the south. of course, the hardening of white attitudes in the black
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subsequent loss of voting rights in the region killed any chance subsequent loss of voting rights >> pragmatist that he was, washington had important considerations in calling for social separation in the south that was experiencing lynching, flogging and other forms of violence by the ku klux klan and other vigilante groups. perhaps he remembered the genocide of the parents and grandparents of his indian students at hampton institute. he extended his diplomatic skills to the utmost. he was vitally concerned with the safety and future of his tuskegee institute, which he believed was the key to success in the future. by the time of the compromise, the institute is making valuable contributions to the advancement of the southern community. there is much to preserve and protect. there are 37 buildings, all but three built by the students own hands.
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>> 700 acres of farmland. a daring assortment of livestock. there are nearly 1000 students on campus. the curriculum offers instruction in 27 vocations in all of the building trades. carriage and wagon making, harness making. printing, tailoring, industrial education is coming-of-age. the 70 member faculty includes an agricultural chemist, george washington carver. he institutes has an outreach service, symbolized by a wagon. s also on the growing staff of
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distinguished individuals, emmett j scott. a former journalist. he carries the title of private secretary to the man he calls distinguished individuals, and a measure of ruthlessness. powering the sophisticated relations operation that will be called the infernal tuskegee machine. >> is going to be a proud day for every negro in the land. everything has been carefully planned. i'm setting the schedule to present this afternoon. >> president mckinley wants some ideas for his speech. he should say something to encourage colored people to get education, property.
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to build their character. those things that are the basis of good citizenship. he should put in something about both races being moderate, friendly, self-controlled. put it in your awards. -- words. i'll sign it. >> i'll see to it immediately, sir. that editorial on tuesday was completely unfair. completely misrepresented your opinions. >> the press is your department, mr. scott. be as tactful as possible. >> you can depend on that, sir. >> the president came and it was a grand and glorious day. a relationship that sealed washington's career as a formidable political powerbroker.
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♪ >> the oaks, designed by the talented black architect robert robertson taylor, who was responsible for the design of most of the early campus buildings. ♪ >> margaret murry. after her first year on campus, washington is so impressed by her work as a teacher that he selects her as the institutes lady principal. their relationship blossoms. on october 12, 1892, margaret murray and booker t. washington are married. raised in a quaker home and an honor graduate of fisk university, margaret murray plays a major role in the institutes growth. in addition to supervising the institutes women's programs, she helps to organize self-help groups for black women in the
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town of tuskegee. as her husband becomes increasingly concerned with fundraising and political activities that take him away for long times, mrs. washington becomes an expansion of his presence on campus. from the standpoint of black survival in the hostile racial climate of the south, the effect of the diplomatic skill can be seen at a national and local level. >> worries me. he can't be trusted. >> would i sacrifice my school here at tuskegee for him? if you want him, find him. >> let's go get him. >> he must be over this way.
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come on. let's go over there. >> tell scott to take my wagon. get him out of the county tonight. >> all right. >> almost every paper damns you as a hypocrite. booker t. washington is a man who would cast his own brother into the claws of a bloodthirsty mob. we must tell them the real truth. >> tell them. tell them what, mr. scott? the real truth. tell them that my cabin is a refuge for radicals. how long would tuskegee last?
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let them think what they will for the moment. this too shall pass. >> but as america moves further away from reconstruction, black aspirations for equal citizenship are increasingly repressed. booker t. washington's optimism is no longer acceptable to many of the nations black intellectuals. he denounces washington's failure to confront southern segregation. on july 30, 1903, a confrontation with washington comes to pass. they call it the boston riot. it becomes a shouting match. washington is silent, detached from the turbulent scene. police storm into the auditorium. panic follows. men are dragged from the church
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and arrested. across the country, it is front page news. they make the public aware that there were serious negro opposition to washington's policies. the press couldn't ignore this event. i'm sure they would like to. i'm sure they would like to. they were forced to publish trotter's opinions. people saw that his criticisms were valid. he served a 30 day jail sentence. there was a feeling that washington and scott were persecuting the man. from the point of view of the opposition, the demonstration was a rousing success. >> you began to move into the enemy camp? >> the machine was pushing me in that direction. washington built tuskegee, a great institution. i'm afraid he was a captive of his own political ambition. he would brook no criticism or opposition, especially from fellow african-americans.
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>>the press must talk about du bois and trotter, the great northern intellectuals. it is easy to be critical of america when you live in the north. there are frustrated aristocrats, chattering on about the talented tenth at the expense of the black masses. what did they know about the sharecroppers life? what did they know about the terrible fears that every black man, woman and child has to live with every day of their lives in the south? the south is where the overwhelming majority of our people live. now and forever, that must be the central fact in designing a political position for black people in this country. not some abstract demand for
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justice. >> but du bois has spent some years in the south, has he not? >> he doesn't shed a tear when it counts. this is my land. these are my people. i'm fighting for what's best for the masses of american negroes. du bois is a frustrated snob. he has turned his back on the black masses. this booker t. washington will never do. >> we have uncovered evidence that you and emmett scott have attempted to subvert black opposition to your policies and that the tuskegee machine has tried to destroy economically men such as william monroe trotter. >> i've never done anything of the kind.
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>> how would you react to that, sir? >> young man. history will be my judge. not you. >> as the 19th century fades into history, washington's star reaches its zenith. more than ever, his tireless fundraising activities swell the coppers of tuskegee and other southern schools that follow his philosophy of industrial education. tuskegee continues to prosper under his leadership. despite the raging controversies, there will be 50 buildings on campus. 2000 students and an endowment that exceeds $2 million. 2000 black men and women will graduate from the institute, five times that number have spent sometimes experiencing tuskegee. on a personal level, washington and his family are amply provided for by his friend andrew carnegie.
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he is able to give up his salary at tuskegee. at home, washington finds rest and relaxation in his morning rides on his horse dexter and attending to his livestock. and his garden. by 1913, his health is beginning to fail. while on a fund-raising tour, he collapses in new york. margaret murray washington remembers. >> there were so many things he wanted to do for tuskegee. >> mrs. washington, i realize this is very painful for you. could you recall, could you try to recall the final days? you needn't answer the question,
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of course. >> i got the telegram. i headed to the station. i don't remember much about the ride north. i prayed a lot. i cried a lot. i got to new york, there was a car waiting to take me to st. luke's hospital. i went into the room. the doctors were there. mr. scott was there. the doctor said that there was a chance they could save him if he
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stayed in new york. after they finished talking, i turned to my husband. he read the question in my eyes. he said, margaret, i was born in the south. i've lived and neighbored in the south. i will die and be buried in the south. we brought him home. >> he survives they train ride home for just a few hours. on the morning of november 14,
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booker t. washington passed away. he is buried in the campus cemetery. 10,000 people gathered to pay their last respects. messages of condolence are received from around the world. memorial services are held across america. du bois, though an opponent, pays a final tribute to the wizard of tuskeegee. >> booker t washington was the greatest leader since frederick douglass and the most distinguished man to come out of the south since the civil war. of what he accomplished, there can be no doubt.
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>> throughout history, washington's influence can be found almost everywhere. the economic program of marcus garvey and the self-help movement of the 1960's, calling for economic self-determination, all have them origins and washington's life. at the beginning of the civil war, 4 million black people were living in slavery.
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♪ americaneekend, history katie looks back at the 1969 supreme court landmark case pinker versus des moines, with a students do not lose first amendment rights on student grounds -- school grounds.
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sunday morning, two of the students involved in the case. they talk about their experiences and take questions from students during an event hosted by the state historical society of iowa. >> in how many cases a year does the supreme court take? >> you tell me. >> they take about 80 cases, out of 10,000. about 10,000. >> less than 1%. >> they thought this was an important case. >> in our case the judges also split, but it was a 7-2 split. it was a resounding victory for student rights. >> at 8:00, american history tv will continue to discussion with mary beth and john tinker live on washington journal essay take your questions and comments about their experience and student free speech today. watch american history tv, this weekend on c-span3.
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>> c-span, where history unfolds daily. c-span was created as a public service by america's cable-television companies. and today we continue to bring you unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court, in public policy events in washington, d.c. and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. on november 20, 1943, 18,000 u.s. marines landed on the pacific island of tarawa, occupied by japan. after three days of combat, more than 1000 u.s. troops had died, and about 2,000 were wounded. next on american history tv, clay bonnyman evans, author of
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"bones of my grandfather: reclaiming a lost hero of world war ii" details his grandfather's experience as a soldier in the battle of tarawa, and his own journey to recover his remains. then rebekah taylor explains the current efforts to excavate remains of unidentified soldiers. she's a forensic anthropology for the defense pow-mia accounting agency. this one hour talk was part of a three day conference hosted by the world war ii museum in new orleans. >> this next session is going to mark the third time that we've hosted a session focused on the work of our partners at the defense pow/mia accounting agency. to tell us more about our partnership and to moderate this panel it's my pleasure to introduce dr. keith huxen. are senior director of research in history at the institute of the study of war and democracy. keith moved over to the


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