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

Tillotson College

When James Dickey graduated from Tillotson College in 1916 with a BA, he was trained to teach Industrial Arts much like graduates of Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Most historically black colleges and universities not only taught academic subjects such as English and mathematics, but also stressed practical skills like home economics and construction. In fact, students frequently completed projects to benefit the school itself. Tillotson's graduating class of 1912 built Evans Hall and Dickey’s industrial arts class constructed Tillotson College’s administration building, now known as Alumni Hall. Self-sufficiency on a black college campus was not unique. In keeping with Booker T. Washington's philosophy at Tuskegee Institute, students were taught that hard work was to be admired and self-reliance would reap the benefits of a promising future. Tillotson’s student pledge included phrases such as “the promise of opportunity and hope” and “the preparation for service and leadership.” James Dickey and his classmates knew they had an obligation to assist their fellow man and took pride in all tasks, regardless of how menial the job might be. James Dickey never forgot the lessons gleaned from his alma mater. He gave funds when he could and served on Huston-Tillotson’s Board of Trustees from 1951 until his death. 

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