Magazine March 23, 2009, Issue

A Strong Foundation

Booker T. Washington (Harris & Ewing/Library of Congress)

In 1899, as Americans looked forward to a new century of progress, Booker T. Washington published The Future of the American Negro. A reporter asked him whether that future would include a black man as president. “I should hope so,” Washington responded. He did not expect to see it in his lifetime: Blacks could not vote in the South, Jim Crow laws enforced rigid segregation, and lynching was rampant. Even so, Washington envisioned a day when blacks would achieve political equality — and he believed he had a role to play in making it come about. “One generation lays the

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