1893
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jANUARY • I 893 am now willing to be misunderstood if I can aid in calling attention to the need of a better ministry. I watch your efforts with interest. You are right in getting hold of the southern white ministers. We need their help. We must get nearer to each other. I like your unselfish, whole-souled manner. Thank you for your encouraging words regarding our new department . We dedicate Feb 7 and I now extend you a hearty invitation to be present. Dr. Lyman Abbott delivers the address. Yours Sincerely, Booker T . Washington ALS GAGTh. 1 Wilbur Patterson Thirkield (I854-Ig38?) , a white Methodist clergyman, was the first president of Gammon Theological Seminary (I 883-Igoo) . He had graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University and the theology school of Boston University. From Igoo to Igo6 Thirkield was in Cincinnati as general secretary of the Freedmen 's Aid and Southern Education Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He served as president of Howard University from Igo6 to Igi2. During most of his presidency BTW was a member of the board of trustees of Howard and one of Thirkield's strong supporters. Thirkield left Howard upon his elevation to bishop. A Speech before the New York Congregational Club [New York, Jan. 16, 1893] THE PROGRESS OF THE NEGRO Gentlemen of the Congregational Club: It is now but little more than 15 years ago since I left the hills of West Virginia with the purpose of reaching in some unknown way the Hampton Institute - an institution founded and still fostered by the American Missionary Association . At length I found myself in the city of Richmond without money, friends or shelter. An opening under a side walk afforded me shelter by night and an outgoing ship loading pig iron furnished me work by day till my purse was sufficiently full to enable me to reach Hampton with a surplus of so¢, and there I found an institution founded by you which gave me the opportunity to work my way through. After finishing my studies I resolved that I would go into the far South and spend my life in trying to give the poor but worthy young men and 279 The BooKER T. WASHINGTON Papers women of my race the same opportunity to secure an education by self-help as was afforded me at Hampton. And now, it is a rare privilege to be permitted to address some of the representatives of that religious body which has done the broadest, deepest, most telling and unselfish work for the elevation of my race. I say unselfish, for I feel that the secretaries of the American Missionary Association will agree with me in the expression that if the value of the work of Congregational churches in the South is to be measured by the number of Congregational churches organized or the number of individuals that has become congregationalists, the work has not been of the most encouraging character. For where you have placed one Congregational minister in a Congregational church, you have placed 20 in a Methodist or Baptist pulpit; where one Congregational teacher you have given a score of Methodists or Baptists education. (Story- Hard to make a Negro anything but a Methodist or Baptist) But if we are to judge of the value of your work by the manner in which you have broken through denominational lines by reason of the superior character of your work; placed in every center, at least, one pure Christian church that serves as a light house in its influence and lessons as to what a church should be; educated the Christian leader in all denominations, the teacher, the professional man, the farmer, the mechanic; established the model Christian home and forced a life-giving current into the moral, economic and industrial life of every section of the South- if the value of the work of the American Missionary Association be measured, as it should be, by these standards, I believe it has no parallel in the history of this or any other country. But, gentlemen, I did not come here to talk in this general manner. Will you forgive me, if for a moment, I take the Tuskegee School in Alabama as an example of the progress of the Negro, and in doing this I use it as an example, not selfishly, but because the work at Tuskegee will represent a similar work being done by a dozen or more of American Missionary Association Schools. Starting a little...


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