The Education of Booker T. Washington: American Democracy and the Idea of Race Relations

By Michael Rudolph West | Go to book overview

All that night he did not close his eyes and now and then his
restless body gave a slight shudder as the images of his waking
dream whirled tensely in their too-tight orbits. He peered out
of his window and saw vast, wheeling populations of ruled
stars, swarming in the convened congresses of the skies an-
chored amidst nations of space and he prayed wordlessly that
a bright, bursting tyrant of living sun would soon lay down
its golden laws to loosen the locked legions of his heart and
cast the shadow of his dream athwart the stretches of time.

— RICHARD WRIGHT, THE LONG DREAM


Chapter 1
"The Great and Intricate Problem"
Democracy, the Negro Problem, and the Idea
of Race Relations

WHEN HE died, they spoke not so much of his tangible accomplishments as of the effect his ideas and example had on them personally, and on the nation. Amid the grief of friends and supporters gathered to mourn his passing and to pay homage to his life's work, there were a few harsh words for his opponents and enemies. But those who had reviled him or otherwise sought to traduce his leadership and philosophy were mainly ignored, consigned, for that day at least, to the long shadow he cast. He was a paragon, they said, an inspiration, and the embodiment of "the true Christian spirit." He "stood in the most delicate position of any man on the American Continent, be he black or white," one speaker said, seeking ever to maintain "peace and unity and friendship between the two races." He gained a hearing with presidents and other powerful men, not chasing down spoils or other partisan advantage, but

-23-

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