Booker T Washington Quotes



"Character is power."

"Character, not circumstances, makes the man."

"We must reinforce argument with results."

"If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else."

"Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way."

"You can't hold a man down without staying down with him."

"Property, brains and character will settle the question of civil rights."

"Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work."

"There is no power on earth that can neutralize the influence of a high, simple and useful life."

"There are two ways of exerting one's strength: one is pushing down, the other is pulling up."

"I think I began learning long ago that those who are happiest are those who do the most for others."

"The individual who can do something that the world wants done will, in the end, make his way regardless of his race."

"I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him."

"No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem."

"Few things can help an individual more than to place responsibility on him, and to let him know that you trust him."

"One of the chief ambitions which spurred me on at Hampton was that I might be able to get in a position in which I could better make my mother comfortable and happy."

"I have had no patience with any school for my race in the South which did not teach its students the dignity of honor."

"The older I grow, the more I am convinced that there is no education which one can get from booksand costly aparatus that is equal to that which can be gotten from contact with great men and women."

"I have great faith in the power and influence of facts. It is seldom that anything is permanently gained by holding back a fact."

"The world cares very little about what a man or woman knows; it is what a man or woman is able to do that counts."

"Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome."that I could get my hands upon, and called it my "library".

"I began to get together my first library. I secured a dry-goods box, knocked out one side of it, put some shelves in it, and began putting into it every kind of book."

"I was one of the happiest souls on earth. The sweeping of that room was my college examination, and never did any youth pass and examination into Harvard or Yale that gave him more satisfaction."

"Mere connection with what is known as a superior race will not permanently carry an individual forward unless the individual has worth."

"There was no period of my life that was devoted to play," Washington once wrote. "From the time that I can remember anything, almost everyday of my life has been occupied in some kind of labor."

"Wherever our life touches yours, we help or hinder . . . wherever your life touches ours, you make us stronger or weaker. . . . There is no escape -- man drags man down, or man lifts man up."

"No greater injury can be done to any youth than to let him feel that because he belongs to this or that race he will be advanced in life regardless of his own merits or efforts."

"From some things that I have said one may get the idea that some of the slaves did not want freedom. This is not true. I have never seen one who did not want to be free, or one who would return to slavery."

"We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary."

"Years ago I resolved that because I had no ancestry myself I would leave a record of which my children would be proud, and which might encourage them to still higher effort."

"I believe that any man's life will be filled with constant and unexpected encouragement, if he makes up his mind to do his level best each day, and as nearly as possible reaching the high water mark of pure and useful living."

"No man, who continues to add something to the material, intellectual and moral well-being of the place in which he lives, is left long without proper reward."

"Success in life is founded upon attention to the small things rather than to the large things; to the every day things nearest to us rather than to the things that are remote and uncommon."

"Negroes inhabiting this country, who themselves or whose ancestors who went through the scholl of American slavery, are in a stronger and more hopeful condition, materially, intellectually, morally and religously, than is true of an equal number of black people in any other portion of the globe."

"Ever since I have been old enough to think for myself, I have entertained the idea that, not withstanding the cruel wrongs inflicted upon us, the black man got nearly as much out of slavery as the white man did."

"At that institution I got my first taste of what it meant to live a life of unselfishness, my first knowledge of the fact that the happiest individuals are those who do the most to make others useful and happy."

"How often I wanted to say to the white students that they lift themselves up in proportion as they help to lift others, and the more unfortunate the race, and the lower in scale of civilization, the more does one raise one's self by giving assistance."

"My experience has been that the time to test a true gentleman is to observe him when he is in contact with individuals of a race that is less fortunate than his own."

"My experience is that there is something in human nature, which always makes an individual recognize and reward merit, no matter under what colour of skin merit is found."

"I have found, too, that it is the visible, the tangible, that goes a long ways in softening prejudices."

"The actual sight of a first-class house that a Negro has built is ten times more potent than pages of discussion about a house that he ought to build, or perhaps could build."

"The individual who can do something that the world wants done will, in the end, make his way regardless of his race."

"But gradually, by patience and hard work, we brought order out of chaos, just as will be true of any problem if we stick to it with patience and wisdom and earnest effort."

"As I look back now over that part of our struggle, I am glad that we had it. I am glad that we endured all those discomforts and inconveniences. I am glad that our students had to dig out the place for their kitchen and dining room. I am glad that out first boarding-place was in that dismal, ill-lighted, and damp basement. Had we started in a fine, attractive, convenient room, I fear we would have "lost our heads" and become "stuck up". It means a great deal, I think, to start off on a foundation which one has made for one's self."

"I learned the lesson that great men cultivate love, and that only little men chersh a spirit of hatred."

"I learned that assistance given to the weak makes the one who gives it strong: and that oppression of the unfortunate makes one weak."

"The wrong to the Negro is temporary, but to the morals of the white man the injury is permanent."

"Few things help an individual more than to place responsibilty upon him, and to let him know that you trust him."

"With God's help, I believe that I have completely rid myself of any ill feeling toward the Southern white man for any wrong that he may have inflicted upon my race. I am made to feel just as happy now when I am rendering service to Southern white men as when the service is rendered to a member of my own race. I pity from the bottom of my heart any Individual who is unfortunate as to get into the habit of holding race prejudice."

Compiled by Thomas George
editor@Wisdom-of-the-Wise.com