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


Tuskegee Institute ’s educational program was holistic. The goals of Tuskegee were:  1) Head – to give the student the best mental training, 2) Hands – to furnish the student with labor that will be valuable to the school, 3) Heart – to teach the dignity of labor. In addition to basic academic instruction, the practical curriculum included building construction, cooking, handicraft, agriculture and the blacksmith trade. Women were instructed in home economics, dressmaking and weaving. The students made brooms, mattresses, bricks, and furniture.
Students were also to be clean in body, mind, and spirit so they would be worthy of respect from everyone. Booker T. Washington wrote that the toothbrush was one of the “few single agencies of civilization.” Students had to bathe daily, brush their teeth daily, see that their clothing was mended, clean, pressed and worn appropriately. Students were required to participate in the production and preparation of healthy meals. Their bodies were toned through physical labor. Their morals were refined via strict discipline and Christian teachings. Their success was interwoven with the school’s success because the students constructed the buildings, cleaned the rooms, maintained the structure and beauty of the campus, and proudly presented their handiwork to whoever wished to see it. At first, Negroes bristled at Booker T. Washington’s attitudes toward personal grooming, but they soon recognized that good health was a boon for personal pride in addition to gaining respect from the white community. Within a few years, black opponents mocked that Tuskegee students were no better than manual laborers, a terrible insult since physical labor was equated with slavery. On the contrary, argued Washington, his goal was to prepare Tuskegee students to be self-reliant and confident in themselves. Thus, when dealing with antagonistic whites, they could be proud without being arrogant. Because of the racial balancing act Tuskegee had to maintain in the Deep South, Washington sought to downplay the number of graduates that furthered their education in medicine, engineering, science, and law. 


This page has paths:

This page references: