Booker T. Washington: Washington D.C. (II)

“I took great interest in studying the life of our people there closely at that time. I found that while among them there was a large element of substantial, worthy citizens, there was also a superficiality about the life of a large class that greatly alarmed me.”

“I saw young coloured men who were not earning more than four dollars a week spend two dollars or more for a buggy on Sunday to ride up and down Pennsylvania Avenue in, in order that they might try to convince the world that they were worth thousands.”

“I saw other young men who received seventy–five or one hundred dollars per month from the Government, who were in debt at the end of every month.

“I saw men who but a few months previous were members of Congress, then without employment and in poverty.”

“Among a large class there seemed to be a dependence upon the Government for every conceivable thing. The members of this class had little ambition to create a position for themselves, but wanted the Federal officials to create one for them.”

“How many times I wished then, and have often wished since, that by some power of magic I might remove the great bulk of these people into the county districts and plant them upon the soil, upon the solid and never deceptive foundation of Mother Nature, where all nations and races that have ever succeeded have gotten their start,—a start that at first may be slow and toilsome, but one that nevertheless is real.”

— Booker T. Washington, Up From Slavery (1901), Ch. 5: The Reconstruction Period.

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