Booker T Washington as the Negro Christ

As my concluding post on Booker T. Washington’s Up From Slavery, I thought I would share thoughts from the political elite from his day on Washington’s importance.

BTW’s one goal in life was to run a school for Negro woman and men that was worthy enough for the President of the United States to visit. That day came one December day in 1898 when President McKinley and members of his staff stopped by in order to ask questions about the race problem in the South (that’s code for there had been a number of race riots in the South that year, and a political opportunity appeared to match up with Booker’s ambition).  McKinley’s Secretary of the Navy had this to say about Washington’s labor, and it was quite messianic:

“God bless the orator, philanthropist, and disciple of the Great Master–who if he were here on earth, would be doing the same work –Booker T. Washington.”

John Long had basically compared Washington to Jesus, and in a way, Washington was seen as a Savior of the White and Black race. Christologically, this brings to my mind the theology of the Church Mothers and Fathers, that of the image of Jesus as God’s Logos teaching us throughout the cosmos in the here and now. Like Jesus, Booker is viewed as a great teacher.  Not only that, Washington’s racial politics offers forgiveness and grace, never directly confronting Whites for the injustices done to the Negro race. Booker approves of poll taxes and literacy tests as barriers to uneducated masses who desired to vote, whether they were white or black.

The question is: Would Jesus, the Jew who died for the salvation of the Gentiles, to create a new race we call the New Humanity, ever endorse such discrimination? Or silence against lynch mobs?  I think its suffice to say that he would not, given Christian tradition and my Christian experience.

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