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

The Leadership of James Lee Dickey

James Lee Dickey did not intend to be a leader of his people; he was merely searching for a decent life. Every organization he participated in, i.e., school, church, professional organizations, espoused a creed that encouraged tolerance, emphasized kindness, and instilled a desire to help mankind. Humility came naturally to the quiet, unassuming man. When Dickey was born in 1893, the black community solidly supported the racial uplift of Booker T. Washington. During his teenage and young adult years, WEB Du Bois and the NAACP promoted militancy for equality, using the court system to challenge inequity. In the rural South, Du Bois’ liberal stance never ignited a burning response from the majority of African Americans and Southerners despised an outsider mandating their behavior. Southern blacks were either too poor, hopeless, or intimidated to stand up for themselves. Jim Crow had such a firm grip on African Americans, the idea of standing one’s ground in the face of virulent hatred was overwhelming. As a result, no single person represented black America after Booker T. Washington’s death; thus any progress to end racial hatred had to be accomplished gradually on a local level.

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