Cover for WASHINGTON: Booker T. Washington Papers Volume 12: 1912-14. Click for larger image
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Booker T. Washington Papers Volume 12


From September 1912 through March 1914, Washington continued his heavy schedule of speaking, fund-raising, race leadership, and close supervision of Tuskegee Institute. Although the election of Woodrow Wilson to the presidency led to the dismantling of the Tuskegee Machine's political arm, Washington remained a prominent figure in the political arena. During this period, however, freed from the constraints he had felt as presidential adviser, he became more openly critical of racial injustice. His most sweeping and direct attack appeared in "Is the Negro Having a Fair Chance?" published in The Century a few days after Wilson's election. In this article he criticized the continuing existence of job discrimination in the North, and of Jim Crow transportation and poor education opportunities in the South. Washington continued to advocate economic and educational means for black advancement, persuading the Phelps-Stokes Fund to finance a study of black secondary and higher education and creating in 1912 the Tuskegee Five Year Fund. Despite the changing times and gradual decline in his personal vigor, Washington's actions hardly suggested the little time he had left to live.

"Washington will remain a fascinating figure precisely because of his diversity and ambiguity. Thanks to the first-rate efforts of Louis R. Harlan, Raymond W. Smock, and their associates, Washington is also becoming a more accessible figure. All students of American history are in their debt."--Richard B. Sherman, American Historical Review

"The Washington Papers continue to provide a rich load of material for social historians. Intelligently and imaginatively edited, they illuminate not only the life of Booker T. Washington but the several worlds in which he lived."--Allan H. Spear, Journal of American History

On the subject of Washington "There is no better source to consult than Louis R. Harlan's biography and the first . . . volumes of the Washington papers."--New York Review of Books

"A major enterprise in Black historiography."--Times Literary Supplement

Louis R. Harlan is the author of Booker T. Washington: The Making of a Black Leader, 1856-1901. Raymond W. Smock is the 1979 recipient of the Philip M. Hamer Award of the Society of American Archivists. Both editors are on the history faculty at the University of Maryland.

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