James Lee Dickey: An Analysis of One African-American's Leadership in Jim Crow Texas

Doing What Was Necessary

Regarding his Atlanta speech, Washington did not believe he had abandoned the struggle for his people. Rather, having lived in the South his entire life and watched voting rights stripped from Negroes state by state, he knew disfranchisement was a foregone conclusion. He had to accept the things he couldn’t change and change the things he could. Education was something he could change. He was wise enough to use Southern fears to motivate. For example, he warned South Carolina Governor Ben Tillman that if he cut funding for black schools, northern money, such as funding from Andrew Carnegie, would sustain them instead. Even today, Southern states do not like federal government in state affairs. Blacks schools were saved temporarily.

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