Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Legend and a Legacy

by Peter Comrie

This Legend has taken his abilities and energy and focused them in such a way that enabled him to overcome many obstacles throughout his life. His childhood was one of poverty, slavery and some of the most debilitating work known to man. He was born in 1856.

During his years of slavery, he was property of James Burroughs of Virginia. He had little knowledge of his biological father.

He was raised by his mother. During slavery, it was illegal for slaves to receive an education. However, in September 22, 1862, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation and soon after the Civil War, slaves now experienced freedom.

Soon after freedom, our Legend greatly desired an education. Instead of dwelling on the past of what he had experienced in slavery, he focused on bettering his life and making a difference. He had no idea how he would, but he knew his outcome.

When he was 16 years old, he made a decision that he was going to attend Hampton Institute in Virginia. Even though the decision was made, he didn't know how he would get in, and if he did get in, he didn't know how to pay for it. But despite the unknowns, he showed up on the doorstep of Hampton Institute with no money and no food.

Hampton Institute was founded and run by General Samuel Chapman Armstrong. The institution that he molded was to become a tremendous influence in our young mans life.

General Armstrong valued and lived by work, study, hygiene, morality, self-control and independence. His institution was not for the weak and not for the lazy.

After graduating, this former slave whom we all know as Booker T. Washington became a teacher in Tinkersville, West Virginia. Then in 1879, his old friend and mentor, General Armstrong, asked him to return to Hampton Institute as a teacher.

He gladly accepted and eventually was recommended by Armstrong for principal of a new school, Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama.

With Washington as principal, both he and the school grew to a world famous status. Even though he became well known, Washington still didn't receive the financial help from the state to complete his schools development.

Determined not to let progress suffer, he took it upon himself to raise the money on his own. Washington began traveling and speaking to various groups to solicit funds. He was very successful in this endeavor, gaining support from whites and blacks alike.

Among some of his contributors were Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller who would give on a regular basis.

Through his hard work, determination and sheer willingness to live a life of legacy, Washington continued to grow, excel and give of himself. His ability to follow through with his already decided outcome, he wrote a bestseller book in 1901 entitled Up From Slavery.

Eventually he became an advisor to the President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt. Consequently, Washington became the first black person to ever dine with the President at the White House.

Not bad for an uneducated slave who had nothing going for him except his willingness to do what it took to succeed and never take no for an answer.

What are your set backs, your hindrances, your problems?

Do you hear the "No" in the back of your mind? Take some indirect advice by example from Booker T. Washington.

Your life has an offer to make to the world.

What is it?

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