Washington and the Rise
of the NAACP
Mr. Villard, in my opinion, is a well-meaning, unselfish man, but he does not understand people. He has gathered about him a class of colored people, who have not succeeded, who are bitter and resentful and who, without exception, I think, live in the North. The white people who are with him . . . are dreamers and otherwise impractical people, who do not understand our conditions in the South.
He is a distinguished American and has a perfect right to his opinions. But . . . Mr. Washington's large financial responsibilities have made him dependent on the rich charitable public and . . . he has for years been compelled to tell, not the whole truth, but that part of it which certain powerful interests in America wish to appear as the whole truth.
THE NATIONAL NEGRO COMMITTEE, 1910
REPRESENTING the last generation of black leaders born in slavery in the Old South, and speaking for those blacks who had remained in the New South in an uneasy modus vivendi with the white southerners, Washington was able throughout his life to maintain his standing as the black boss because of the sponsorship of powerful whites, substantial support within the black community, and his skillful accommodation to the social realities of the age of segregation.