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

Lessons Learned

After graduation, Booker T. Washington gained a profound lesson when he worked as a waiter during the warm season in Connecticut. He was a terrible waiter. His white customers berated him and he was demoted to busboy. Instead of blaming rich, racist white folks, he realized his ignorance caused his failure, not the color of his skin. After observing other waiters and asking questions, he regained his position and reaped the reward of larger tips. From this experience, Washington learned that respect is earned through humility and determination and failure can become opportunity. In the future, fellow African Americans would criticize Washington for gracefully accepting admonitions from white people. He considered the criticism unfounded because he believed every person capable of self-improvement.

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