Reconsidering Booker T. Washington’s ‘Atlanta Compromise’

A recent conversation with a friend regarding the current status of African-American males, particularly our current economic plight, prodded my reflection upon where we “went wrong” in regards to economics within the Black community. Such matters are significant when one considers that the initial, and some would argue the most significant, duty that a Man does is provide for his family in a tangible material way. Put simply, he is a provider.

While reflecting upon such matters, my mind reverted back to this speech given by ‘The Wizard of Tuskegee’ Booker Taliafero Washington in 1895 at the Atlanta Cotton States Exposition. Washington’s utterances and constructs from the stage on that day positioned him to be the leading “race man” of his time. More importantly, it highlights several contemporary issues facing African-American males. Such matters are increasingly important in the new millennium when one considers that African-American males are attending, and graduating, college at a slower pace than their female counterparts and have had their employment niche usurped by newly arriving immigrants.

After reviewing this piece, I am certainly wondering if Booker T. Washington’s industrial education model was the correct path for building a solid foundation upon which we could have built other pillars of our community. Take a moment and consider exactly what Washington was positing and let me know your thoughts.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III,

Ignorant and inexperienced, it is not strange that in the first years of our new life we began at the top instead of at the bottom; that a seat in Congress or the state legislature was more sought than real estate or industrial skill; that the political convention or stump speaking had more attractions than starting a dairy farm or truck garden…

Our greatest danger is that in the great leap from slavery to freedom we may overlook the fact that the masses of us are to live by the productions of our hands, and fail to keep in mind that we shall prosper in proportion as we learn to dignify and glorify common labour, and put brains and skill into the common occupations of life; shall prosper in proportion as we learn to draw the line between the superficial and the substantial, the ornamental gewgaws of life and the useful.

No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem. It is at the bottom of life we must begin, and not at the top. Nor should we permit our grievances to overshadow our opportunities…

There is no defense or security for any of us except in the highest intelligence and development of all. If anywhere there are efforts tending to curtail the fullest growth of the Negro, let these efforts be turned into stimulating, encouraging, and making him the most useful and intelligent citizen. Effort or means so invested will pay a thousand per cent interest. These efforts will be twice blessed—blessing him that gives and him that takes.

Nearly sixteen millions of hands will aid you in pulling the load upward, or they will pull against you the load downward. We shall constitute one-third and more of the ignorance and crime of the South, or one-third [of] its intelligence and progress; we shall contribute one-third to the business and industrial prosperity…or we shall prove a veritable body of death, stagnating, depressing, retarding every effort to advance the body politic…

The wisest among my race understand that the agitation of questions of social equality is the extremest folly, and that progress in the enjoyment of all the privileges that will come to us must be the result of severe and constant struggle rather than of artificial forcing. No race that has anything to contribute to the markets of the world is long in any degree ostracized. It is important and right that all privileges of the law be ours, but it is vastly more important that we be prepared for the exercise of these privileges. The opportunity to earn a dollar in a factory just now is worth infinitely more than the opportunity to spend a dollar in an opera-house.

Booker Taliaferro Washington (Atlanta Georgia, 1895)

What The Black Man Wants

Mr. President:

What I ask for the Negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice. The American people have always been anxious to know what they shall do with us.

Everybody has asked the question, and they learned to ask it early of the abolitionists, “What shall we do with the Negro?” I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us!

Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are wormeaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! I am not for tying or fastening them on the tree in any way, except by nature’s plan, and if they will not stay there, let them fall. And if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also.

All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! If you see him on his way to school, let him alone, don’t disturb him! If you see him going to the dinner-table at a hotel, let him go! If you see him going to the ballot-box, let him alone, don’t disturb him!
If you see him going into a work-shop, just let him alone,—your interference is doing him a positive injury. Gen. Banks’ “preparation” is of a piece with this attempt to prop up the Negro. Let him fall if he cannot stand alone!

If the Negro cannot live by the line of eternal justice…the fault will not be yours, it will be his who made the Negro, and established that line for his government. Let him live or die by that. If you will only untie his hands, and give him a chance, I think he will live. He will work as readily for himself as the white man.


Delivered April 1865, at Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society in Boston

“Get Your Mind Right”: African Americans and Behavioral Health

Sonora Contributing Blogger — MRC (ManhoodRaceCulture)

“Rather than a proclamation of progression, you are making declarations of denial; denying yourself confrontation with the truth which can set you free.”

You are awakened from sleep with a sharp abdominal pain and have trouble returning to sleep. You may try a home remedy rather than take the time to go to seek a physician’s care at that hour but, eventually when the discomfort gets too great, you are going to the doctor. You will follow the physician’s advice and take the medication until you are feeling relief and can continue to function without the constant reminder of the discomfort.

You both agree the relationship has ended and you are now in two residences. The emotional and financial pain keeps you from sleeping soundly through the night. What’s going to happen with our children? What am I going to do financially? And even though you don’t want to admit it, your grief also includes the loss of a partner. What comes next? The emotional/psychological pain affects your eating, sleeping, working and social patterns. You’re sad, you’re angry, you cry, you reason then, you go to a place of survival inside of yourself to get through the immediate trauma. And out of that pain, you emerge from despair’s cocoon, a mutant butterfly, half fluttering, half dragging – yet moving forward.

This scenario is the same for males and females. Often between the sexes we banter about who’s pain is greater by saying “your pain ain’t like mine”; but pain is pain, and its intensity is relative to the person feeling it. Pain cannot be prioritized from one person to the other based on ones perception of disparities. Pain is pain!

So, your sleep is disrupted from the emotional pain, just like with the abdominal pain, except this time you do not go to the doctor.   You do your best to hide the aching under a mask we like to call “strength”. And, as hurting people hurt people; your pain transforms into proclamations of “never again”. Rather than a proclamation of progression, you are making declarations of denial; denying yourself confrontation with the truth which can set you free.

As a race, we have culturally denied ourselves the freedoms of emotional wellbeing. Behavioral health, simply put, is about the balance of the body and the mind; emotional and physical. The body and mind are co-dependent upon each other; one cannot function without the other. Yet, we would deprive ourselves of seeking the care of a healthcare professional for our own emotional/behavioral wellbeing based on a stigma that Black people don’t go to counseling. Historically, within the African American culture, the church has been a resource for behavioral health services. And as much as I agree that faithful prayer and meditation will keep you from medication; there are instances when life’s stressors overwhelm our body/mind, beyond its limits to cope appropriately and effectively. Seeking a spiritual advisor may not be as effective as a behavior health practitioner.

The issue for consideration I would like to impress on anyone who seeks counseling services from their house of worship is to verify the credentials of the counsel. In some churches, counselors are appointed, not because they have studied to show themselves approved but, because they have been assigned /appointed by leadership. I myself have been referred to Minister Soandso because they had been through a similar circumstance and had a testimony to share in the aftermath. Again, my faith walk has taught me that experiences and testimonies offer great support to other in like circumstances; however it does not certify me to offer coping options. Where it is known that experience is a great teacher, every graduated student is not a professor.

My suggestion to the readers is that we make behavioral/emotional health part of or annual health assessment. There are many non-profit professional services within our communities, as well as, Employee Assistance Programs, which offer confidential counseling services. Whichever route you choose to go…. GO, Get Your Mind Right!


‘SNITCHES GET STITCHES’: Yet another Sign of Our Cultural Dysfunction

The historical experiences of stolen Africans on the North American continent can best be summed up by the title of one of Jay-Z’s albums, Hard Knock Life. The treatment of African-Americans has served as the foremost indicator of American hypocrisy from the moment of their arrival in the Jamestown colony. America’s darker brother has been maligned, brutalized, raped, and lynched in ‘the land of the free and home of the brave’.

Considering their peculiar second-class citizenship status, African-Americans have become adept at responding to a hostile white community at a moments’ notice. Experience had taught every person of African descent on the North American continent that their time to deal with the hostility and brutality of marauding whites could come not only at any moment, but also without the slightest provocation. Considering such a context, African-Americans developed mechanisms to protect themselves and their loved ones from hostile outsiders. One of the most prominent adaptation was for them to become insular as a community; meaning that they closed off the hostile outside world in a desperate attempt to protect their own; particularly the men who were most likely to be seized and lynched by a white mob for a perceived offense or challenge emanating from either that particular individual or the community in general.

Unfortunately, the alluded to ‘lynch mob’ pursuing African-American males was often led by law enforcement officers; sheriff, police, patty rollers, constables, overseers, deputies. Hence, it should not be surprising that the average African-American male tenses up when in the presence of ‘law enforcement’ officers to this present day. Too often it appears as if the law that is being enforced is detrimental to our existence. Consequently, the staunch position of not cooperation that the vast majority of African-Americans assumed in regards to ‘law enforcement’ officers is absolutely understandable. One would be hard-pressed to convince African-Americans that ‘law enforcement’ officers are not continuing this tradition in the twenty-first century.

However, this tradition of not cooperating with ‘law enforcement’ officers has been seized by a criminal element within our community for opportunistic reasons. An immoral and unlawful element within our community has publicly demanded silence regarding their criminal activities and uncivilized behavior. I actually applaud this population for the manner in which they have been able to seize a historic cultural adaptation and use it as a cover for their evil doings; unfortunately, Hip Hop Culture has been the perfect conduit for this transference of misinformation.

Although their mantra that ‘snitches get stitches’ is rather poetic in a ghetto fabulous kind of way, it betrays the solidarity that generations of African-Americans displayed against a hostile external enemy. The actions and activities of the criminal element within our midst is having the same effect that marauding white terrorist had throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries respectively. The only difference is that the criminal element in our midst begs us to not report them to the proper authorities. However, one must take their hat off to this thuggish element when you consider that they have been able to get such values integrated into our cultural diet and belief system. We now find elementary school children attempting to “persuade” their peers to ‘not snitch’, often via violent attacks that they are amazingly filming and posting on the internet.

Obviously, the mantra ‘snitches get stitches’ has no place within our community and serves as yet another example of how we have truly lost our way. Of all the things that we need to be poetic about, lawlessness and criminality are not on that list.

This is not a call for the African-American community to abandon its vigilance against the virulent attacks that seem to follow them where ever they go, we must be vigilant against the evil-doers who are attacking our community and ‘bringing the community down’ from where ever they come from. A philosophy that should terrify those Negroes within our midst who commit crime and live in an uncivilized manner that is unreflective of how African-Americans have ever lived.

It may be time for law abiding African-Americans to counter the poetic ghetto phrase of ‘snitches get stitches’ with one of our own for the cowards who believe that their criminal exploits will be ignored by respectable, empowered, and righteous African-Americans. Maybe we should invoke a saying for criminal minded males who roam our community with crime on their mind and their pants sagging below any level of decency with a mantra of ‘In prison they make bitches, so be sure to lower your britches.’

Stop Black-on-Black violence, ‘by any means necessary.’ Our babies need a safe place to grow up.  #MRC

Dr. James Thomas Jones III


Bag lady you gone miss your bus
You can’t hurry up 
Cause you got too much stuff
When they see you comin
Niggas take off runnin
From you it’s true oh yes they do

Erykah Badu

When discussing issues as sensitive as relationships within the African-American community, I realize that statements from self-centered narcissistic sisters such as ‘why can’t black men measure up to our demands’ are pivotal moments. Mr. Harvey realized as much and masterfully cut through the shibboleth and placed the onus for their not being able to find a man right where it belonged, at the feet of these particular, not every, professional black woman.

Harvey asked a simple, yet revealing query to the women who ranged in age from mid-thirties through their forties; ‘what type of man are you looking for?’ It was at this moment that these formally educated, yet hopelessly silly, women began to lay out their prerequisites for a mate. One sister quipped, “He must be at least 6”5”, earn at least six figures, and have nice shoes.” All of the women giggled and laughed as if they were school girls sharing an inside joke. Another sister interjected that in addition to that she needed him to “dance well, dress well, and have the right professional job.”

As if things could not get any more ridiculous, the craziest of the crew chimed in with fifty characteristic/qualities/material items that her future husband needed possess prior to their meeting. To her credit she remained consistent in her ridiculous statements by relating a staunch mule-like resistance to budging on her demands; because, as she poignantly put it, ‘she deserved such a man’. And just when I thought that things could not get any worse, another “highly-educated” professional sister related her demand for the man that was “fortunate” enough to be chosen by her, he must bring her to orgasm by penetration and orally on a nightly basis.

A stunned, yet still quick-witted, Steve Harvey immediately retorted, “Are you willing to do the same?” Faced with Harvey’s question, she, and the others, ceased their girlish laughter and simply stared forward as if he had boorishly insulted them with such an inquiry.
Their collective silence was revealing as it signaled what I already knew, that they were too busy creating these extravagant lists to reflect upon what it was they were offering this man they claimed to desire. Although the women on this show would consider the suggestion sacrilegious, maybe, just maybe, they are the one’s who are failing to measure up to the expectations of African-American men. Such a possibility never crosses the minds of self-centered narcissistic professional sisters who have arrogantly operated as if they were not only the epitome of womanhood, but also cursed by the God’s to be desired by every man walking on the earth. They fail to consider that maybe quality Black men, meaning those that they enviously see their “less accomplished” sisters married to, not to mention the seething disdain and covetousness that arises from the depths of their souls if the woman is of another race, are less interested in their material acquisitions, graduate school degrees, money, car, and professional status and more interested in how their lives could intertwine.

At the risk of shattering the fragile egos of self-centered narcissistic well-educated haughty professional Black women, I must relate a truism spoken by the Rev. Dr. Johnny R. Heckard; “education has never done anything for the heart.” And for Black men seeking to forge a productive and happy union with a Black woman, the arrogance and overbearing nature that many, certainly not all, professional African-American women display causes them to avoid such sisters like the plague. Such women fail to understand that eligible, meaning marriageable, African-American men could care less about your college degree, professional career, or car. Considering the disruption that we all as adults realize can flow from a bad relationship, we are more concerned with who you are, not what you have.

There is a popular saying that self-centered narcissistic professional black women should honor that says, ‘if you do what you always did, you gon’ get what you always got.’ I say that as suggestion to them that maybe, just maybe, they may want to consider significantly altering the package that they are offering Black men; obviously, the current one is neither enticing nor desired by good brothers. However, this re-packaging has absolutely nothing to do with a new dress, a shorter skirt, red bottom shoes, Gucci, Prada, or some other inane European designer’s clothing or fragrance. Rather, this alteration begins with significant internal reflection and a bit of honesty.

Pertinent questions that every highly-educated, fine, professional, and gorgeous sister needs to ask herself are: Are you happy with yourself? Are you overbearing and therefore in need of relaxing a bit? Are you emanating female welcoming energy or masculine domineering energy when meeting/dating men? Who are you once all of the education, professional success, and material accruements are stripped away? Do you have the ability to live in the NOW?
I have lived long enough to realize that many professional sisters are executing a charade that is aimed at convincing others, sometimes even themselves, of their desire to have a relationship or traditional family. I refer to this as a charade for self-centered narcissistic professional black women because its genesis is not from within them, rather the result of societal pressures and familial expectations. If you are involved in the aforementioned charade, do everyone a favor, most importantly yourself, and drop it; you do not have to get married. Embrace your life and keep doing you.

For those of you who actually are seeking a relationship with a marriageable Black man, do yourself a favor, drop the ridiculous lists, get naked, go and stand in front of the mirror and realize that the man who you ultimately end up with, albeit fortunate and lucky, is not getting everything that he desired by joining in a union with you. Just deal with the reality that you “ain’t all that”. Truthfully, none of us are.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

Committed to investigating, examining, and representing the African-American male, men, and manhood by offering commentary regarding the status of Black Men and Black Manhood as it relates to African-American Manhood, Race, Class, Politics, and Culture from an educated and authentic African-American perspective aimed at improving the plight of African-American men and African-American Manhood in regards to Politics, Culture, Education, and Social Matters.

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