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(1898) Booker T. Washington, “The Madison Square Garden Address”

After his 1895 Atlanta Compromise Speech, Booker T. Washingtons popularity grew rapidly among Northern whites.  In this instance he gives an address at Madison Square Garden in New York City on February 12, 1898, the birthday of Abraham Lincoln.  Not surprisingly he promotes industrial education among the African Americans.

Not long ago an old colored man in Alabama said to me: ls done quit libin in de ashes; Is got my second freedom. That remark meant that, this old man, by economy, hard work and proper guidance, after twenty years of severe struggle, had freed himself from debt, had paid for fifty acres of land and built a comfortable house, was a tax-payer, that his two sons had been educated in academic and agricultural branches and that his daughter had received mental training in connection with sewing and cooking.

With a few limitations, here was an American Christian home the results of individual effort and philanthropy. This Negro had been given the chance to get upon his feet; that is all which any Negro in America asks for. What position in state, letters or commerce the offspring of this family is to occupy, must be left to the future and the capacity of the race. That the race may have a new birth-a new freedom, in habits of thrift, economy and industrial development, I take to be the meaning of this meeting.

If this be true, I believe that the second birth, this new baptism of the race into the best methods of agriculture, mechanical and commercial life and respect for labor, will bring blessings not less than those given us by our Great Emancipator, whose birthday we celebrate.

Freedom from debt, comfortable homes, profitable employment, intelligence, bring a self-respect and confidence, without which no race can get on its feet. During the years of slavery we were shielded from competition. To-day, unless we prepare to compete with the outside world, we shall go to the wall as a race.

Despite the curse of slavery, during those dark and bitter days, God was preparing the way for the

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