Category Archives: Faith

Role Model

Speaking yesterday at the Arlington (VA) Rotary Club, I mentioned one of Booker T’s famous quotes (a ton of them are at, www.BTWsociety.org/quotes), “If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.”

I also mentioned that Booker T. is an appropriate role model for young Americans today, bombarded as they are with pop culture’s narcissistic messages.

This morning, I thought about where Booker T., born a slave, might ever have gotten that idea. It didn’t take long to find the answer. On several occasions, he mentioned that he “made it a rule” to read a chapter, “or at least a verse” of the Bible every day.

Proverbs 11:26, says, “A generous man will prosper, he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”

Aha! So Booker T. himself had a Role Model – the best, in my humble opinion – rather, ‘IMHO’, as texting kiddoes would put it.

Head, Hands & Heart

By Ronald Court

To help yourself
And your fellow man,
Train your head,
Your heart, and your hand.
       Langston Hughes

Mr. Hughes paid tribute to BTW in 1941 with The Ballad of Booker T..

Booker T. may even have coined the phrase “heads, hands & heart” for I can’t find anyone using it earlier he in the 1880’s. BTW surely made it famous… and years before any “4H” Club came into being. For the record, Booker T. also widely preached the 4th “H” (Hearth…Home).

Among Booker T’s many abilities was a rare ability to express in plain and simple terms, his refined and sophisticated philosophy. He “connected” with people everywhere. Today, to become “self-actualized” in fancy-shmancy psychological terminology, one “engages the Mind Body & Soul” (read… Head Hand & Heart). Booker T. was here way before “New Age” came along.

To be a whole person, you cannot divorce training the heart or soul from the mind or body. By heart, Booker T. clearly meant living a moral life. with character… and faith. I’d like to believe that Langston Hughes, darling of the Harlem Renaissance, got that.

Lincoln on Thanksgiving

By Ronald Court

“It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year…to favor as well our citizens in their homes as our soldiers in their camps, and our sailors on the rivers and seas, with unusual health.

“He has largely augmented our free population by emancipation and by immigration, while He has opened to us new sources of wealth, and has crowned the labor of our working men in every department of industry with abundant rewards.

“Moreover, He has been pleased to animate and inspire our minds and hearts with fortitude, courage and resolution sufficient for the great trial … into which we have been brought by cause of freedom and humanity …

“Now, therefore, I …. do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may be then, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the universe.

“And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid, that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust, and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the great Disposer of events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling-place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.”
(with thanks to Geoffrey Norman at VermontTiger.com)

The Horse’s Mouth

By Ronald Court

You can learn a lot by reading the actual words written or spoken by someone instead of relying on what others write or speak about them. That’s why we go to such effort to make it easy for you to read BTW’s own books, articles and speeches on this site.

WEB’s Autobiobraphy Similarly, I just read W.E.B. Du Bois’ autobiography to learn what made WEB tick. I wanted to get it from “the horse’s mouth” rather than possibly biased historians.

I learned more than I expected. At various times, WEB revealed himself to be jealous, resentful, idealistic, bitter and defensively full of himself. It seemed to me that he never quite felt at home in his own skin and consequently didn’t feel at home here.

Was he intelligent? Of course. Hard working? Sure. But history is littered with intelligent and hard -working people who traveled a wrong path. Even those who can back up their intelligence with power can get it wrong. Witness Stalin, Mao Tse-Tung, Julius & Ethel Rosenberg. One’s belief in a cause, no matter how sincere or well-intentioned one may be, is no guarantee that it, or methods to achieve it, is right.

Bio notes on WEB Du Bois sometimes mention that he renounced his US citizenship, joined the Communist Party and exiled himself to Ghana before he died. All true. But there’s more. (Click the image to buy your own book.)

He was well-intentioned and correct in some ways, but terribly misinformed and mistaken in others. I hope to provide some glimpses into the man without drifting too far into THINK tank territory. I must remind myself that the Society is a DO tank. Our aim is to help youths live constructive, productive lives, not merely to talk about how to do so.

Still, I’ll quote from WEB’s autiobiography from time to time to hopefully shed light on the emotional and intellectual state of the man. Here’s one for openers:

I think the greatest gift of the Soviet Union to modern civilization was the dethronement of the clergy and the refusal to let religion be taught in the public schools. (p. 285):

              W. E. B. Du Bois

What an astoundingly ignorant thing for WEB Du Bois to say. What say you?

What the 4th of July Means to Me

By Ronald Court

A.M.E. Zon ChurchExactly 126 years ago today in 1881, Booker T. Washington opened the doors to the Tuskegee Normal & Industrial Institute for the first time. He had arrived a month before, but mindfully selected July 4th as opening day, holding the first class in the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Zion church (replica opp.).

Booker T. Washington thus established his school “under the auspices of both religion and patriotism.” Like the founding fathers and other great American leaders (some quoted below) both before and after his time, he seemed to understand the uniquely beneficial power these forces, in just proportion to one another, hold for us all.

“We all can pray. We all should pray. We should ask the fulfillment of god’s will. We should ask for courage, wisdom, for the quietness of soul which comes alone to them who place their lives in His hands. Harry Truman, 33rd US President

“America was founded by people who believed that God was their rock of safety. I recognize we must be cautious in claiming that God is on our side, but I think it’s all right to keep asking if we’re on His side.”
Ronald Reagan, 40th US President

“Education is useless without the Bible. The Bible was America’s basic textbook in all fields. God’s word, contained in the Bible, has furnished all necessary rules to direct our conduct.”
Noah Webster, “The Schoolmaster of the Nation” 1758-1843