Booker T. was the dominant leader in America’s black community from 1890-1915, and his message couldn’t have been more different from the race-hustlers who dominate the liberal narrative today, whether it be Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, or the Marxists behind Black Lives Matter. While today’s race-hustlers are more oppressed by their own ideology than anything else, Booker T. was himself a slave from his birth in 1856 until he was granted freedom by the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution at age 9. In the book, he recalls life on the plantation, stating “On the plantation in Virginia, and even later, meals were gotten to the children very much as dumb animals get theirs. It was a piece of bread here and a scrap of meat there. It was a cup of milk at one time and some potatoes at another.”
Despite the very real oppression that Booker T. faced, he doesn’t attack “the system” in his work. Rather, in “Up From Slavery,” you’ll find chapters making the case for the necessity of educating the black community and pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps. There’s even a section of the book where he talks about the importance of wealthy people – he was a Republican after all!
Booker T. was even criticized by the race-hustlers of his day, such as W.E.B. Du Bois, and he would certainly be criticized by their modern counterparts. It’s truly a shame, because Booker was a century ahead of his time when it came to seeing through the victimhood ideology.
My favorite quote from Booker T. comes from his 1911 autobiography, “My Larger Education,” which was published just years before his death in 1915. In it, he writes the following:
What do people like Al Sharpton or the leaders of Black Lives Matter seem to care about more: Black life or lining their own pockets through grievance-mongering?
I think the answer is obvious.