Booker T Washington as the Negro Moses

Just How Do Southern Whites Look at Black Conservatives? Or How Do White Audiences look at Black Male Leaders?

I find it interesting that as I finished Booker T Washington, not looking for theology or the Bible, I kept stumbling upon it. He, like other narratives written in his time, allows for scriptural imagery to interact with his real world experiences.

From the New York World, September 18th, 1895:

“a Negro Moses stood before an audience of white people and delivered an oration that marks a new epoch in the history of the South; and a body of Negro troops marched in a procession with the citizen soldiery of Georgia and Louisiana.”

The article goes on to say that Washington “electrified the audience,” “his face lit with the fire of prophecy,” as the Atlanta Exposition Address was deemed as “the beginning of a moral revolution in America.”

It is quite interesting to think about and compare Washington with the likes of Martin Luther King Jr., and even today, President Barack Obama and Herman Cain, a candidate for the GOP Presidential nomination and business man. What is the compliment given to all of these gentlemen of African descent? That they are good speakers. They can electrify white crowds, tell them what they want to hear, yes?

But when they say something, ya know, a little controversial, they can be demonized. Take MLK Jr and his stance against the Vietnam War, or Attorney General Eric Holder’s comments that we have been “cowards” when it comes to racial issues.

Representation in the public square is nice; now, the question I seem to ask myself nowadays, just what type of representation do I recognize? Do I appreciate progressive black anti-racist thinkers over black conservatives? Or do I hold them equally? I would say I have always sought the latter right position.

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