Tuesday, March 11, 2014

"...great men cultivate love..."

The title of this post is from a quote by Booker T. Washington in his autobiography, Up From Slavery. (We have a number of his books, and books about him, in our catalog.) The quote was something run across while researching Fannie Barrier Williams, an 1870 Brockport graduate and someone who later become associated with Washington in her career as an activist for civil and gender rights. Below is the longer form of this quote from Washington:

“I learned the lesson that great men cultivate love, and that only little men cherish 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.
It is now long ago that I learned this lesson… and resolved that I would permit no man, no matter what his color might be, to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him…
In my contact with people I find that, as a rule, it is only the little, narrow people who live for themselves, who never read good books, who do not travel, who never open up their souls in a way to permit them to come into contact with other souls—with the great outside world. No man whose vision is bounded by color can come into contact with what is highest and best in the world. In meeting men, in many places, I have found that the happiest people are those who do the most for others; the most miserable are those who do the least. I have also found that few things, if any, are capable of making one so blind and narrow as race prejudice. I often say to our students, in the course of my talks to them on Sunday evenings in the chapel, that the longer I live and the more experience I have of the world, the more I am convinced that, after all, the one thing that is most worth living for—and dying for, if need be—is the opportunity of making some one else more happy and more useful.”

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