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Post Black History Month: Booker T. Washington Warned Us

Post Black History Month: Booker T. Washington Warned Us

Perhaps it is because February is a short month, it seems impossible to say all there needs to be said about black history – especially in bringing to light all the misrepresentations and omissions in the currently popular and politicized versions.  Consider this one a postscript.

It is important that we not only understand the biased history being presented by Democrats and the left-leaning media, we need to understand what motivates their spinning of history – especially why black leaders engage in propagating the false narratives.  And why is it that the institutions of de facto racism continue to exist even when cities have black leaders?

Booker T. Washington put the dynamic in context when he warned his fellow black Americans with this statement in 1911.

“There is a class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs-partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.”

(Every time I see that quote, Al Sharpton comes to my mind.)

Find the Washington quote is also an example of left-wing bias.  Of the many quotes attributed to Washington in various formats, this quote gets omitted … censored … cancelled far too often to be a coincidence.  

The Tom Joyner Foundation offers educational curricula for HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities).  In covering Washington as part of its Executive Series, the Foundation lists 15 notable quotes – but not this one.  When writing of Washington, Gary Galles – a professor of Economics at Pepperdine University and member of the Foundation for Economic Education — listed 16 notable quotes – but not the one above.  These are only a couple of examples of a common practice among historians and academics.  Personally, I think this is one of Washington’s more important statements.

Who are the folks Washington warned against?    Perhaps he was referring to the types of people who sold out their own people in the past.  They include the “House Negroes” who oppressed and even punished (whipped) the field slaves … or Negroes who owned slaves in pre-Civil War Dixie … or even the Jews who worked with the Nazis.  History is filled with examples — and the motivations for such conduct are generally the same – a mixture of power, profit, and prestige.

I mentioned Al Sharpton above because I see him as the quintessential character described by Washington.  He is certainly a man who has gained great power, profit, and prestige from messages of grievance – real and exaggerated.  He is much like many of the other hosts and so-called “contributors” you see on cable news panels – black professors and political activists whose stock-in-trade is grievance peddling.  They seem to fit Washington’s description of people who “do not want the Negro to lose his grievances because they do not want to lose their jobs.”

But what about black Democrat officeholders?  Why do they not seem to make a difference in the plight of black citizens trapped in generational poverty and oppression in the very cities they govern?  There are cities that have had black mayors for decades, and yet the conditions do not improve.  In crime, drugs, and gangs, the situation in many of the ghettoes has gotten worse.

Detroit has a black population of more than 80 percent.  Based on demographic statistics, it is fair to say that essentially the entire city is a segregated slum with all the attributions of oppression – poor quality education, substandard housing, high unemployment, crumbling infrastructure, poor public services and high crime rates.  The Motor City has had black mayors from 1974 to 2014, when the current white incumbent took office.    The most disastrous period for Detroit’s black community was the 20-year reign of Coleman Young.

The black population of Baltimore is 65 percent.  The city has had black leadership for 28 of the past 36 years.  Baltimore has received billions of dollars over the years to fight poverty – but without any notable impact.  Baltimore still shows some of the scars from the 1960s riots.  The conditions in the segregated communities of Baltimore – like Detroit –have worsened over the past years. 

So, why have things gotten worse rather than better in cities run by black Democrats?

There seems to be only one answer.  It is because the black leadership’s access to power, profit, and prestige is the same as the white predecessors.  It depends on keeping blacks consolidated (segregated) … poor … generationally dependent on the government … subservient to the folks in city hall.

I have often spoken in black communities in Chicago that have had black aldermen, black state representatives, black state senators, black congressmen for more than 100 years.  At times, they had black mayors, black United States Senators – and for eight years, a black President who was a product of their own community.  

And yet, the conditions in Chicago’s segregated communities have essentially remained the same – with the one difference of higher crime rates.  Obviously, all that political power over so many decades has not produced the benefits one might expect.  

If black leadership has not made a significant difference, the question is why not.  Was it well-intentioned incompetence, or was it something more sinister – a willful acceptance and maintenance of the historical institutional racism to gain and maintain their own power, profit, and prestige?  Are they just gaming the old system?

I say the latter – until someone can offer a better explanation why things do not change much under black Democrat municipal leadership.  So far, it seems like Booker T. Washington understood the problem.

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.


  1. frank stetson

    “Who are the folks Washington warned against? Perhaps he was referring to the types of people who sold out their own people in the past. They include the “House Negroes” who oppressed and even punished (whipped) the field slaves … or Negroes who owned slaves in pre-Civil War Dixie … or even the Jews who worked with the Nazis. History is filled with examples — and the motivations for such conduct are generally the same – a mixture of power, profit, and prestige.”

    Uh….NO….if one actually studies Booker T, you find exactly what this series of cobbled quotes refers to. And it’s not these guesstimates which are wishful thinking of a partisan hack variety.

    Sharpton — you’re in the ballpark now at least…..but I don’t think Al was alive with Booker……

    “But what about black Democrat officeholders?” In 1915 or earlier? Closer yet. What are we up to, a handful?

    It’s over 100-years of folks tacking together these quotes from Brooker T to make their great accommodation points that have been repeated and amplified by the likes of the Tea Party that in 2010 took hold of the Republican party and now has gone hyperbolic in policy by the new 2016 Trumplicant Party to further their Quixotic quest for the holy grail of Black voters that they can never have. Their plan is to seek retribution against those trying to help as if that will bring them the black vote. They have no policies to support, just policies they seek to destroy.

    They never mention the context of the quote. In context, the quote is Booker T. targeting and talking about W.E.B. Du Bois, a black man, who supported a movement for racial equality led by a highly educated, elitist black core, NOT all Democrats or even a meaningful minority.

    History, like irony, a fickle bitch.

  2. frank stetson

    The Washington quote repeats the Republican trope about a presumed grievance that liberals keep blacks down by giving them a hand leading to the false charge of racism being owned only by the Democrats. This might be to fend off Democratic attacks on the actual rabid racists regularly residing in the Republican Party.

    In context, the quote is about blacks, only about blacks. More exact, it’s about one Black, one guy. But for some, Booker T will set you free, proving all Democrats bad, all Democrats evil.

    Who’s really bitchin here? It’s one black guy picking on another black guy. Republicans pick up on that extending it to all liberals as if Booker was talking bout them. He wasn’t. Probably couldn’t even describe one. Who is complaining? Not black guys, just one guy….. When — Booker T died in 1915. FDR – the father of US social programs wasn’t President until the 30’s; LBJ, the Great Society architect, was born in 1908.

    Besides talking about different people before the invention of welfare, and being cobbled together to boot, hey —- it’s good enough for the conservative cause.

    This is to further the rampant Republican denial of racism or to fog it up enough that we don’t openly discuss racism’s possible solutions which, for Republicans, seems to boil down to a simple solution: vote Republican and all will be well. Never can they point to proof positive of racism ended, or even better, in any Republican stronghold across the nation.

    The story does not cry out: vote Republican. It just cries out: liberals bad. That’s an overstatement at best, at worse – a partisan hack lie.

    The right feels falsely accused of racism even though the vast majority of white supremacist groups vote Republican, white supremacists stormed the Capitol with and for the Republicans, and white supremacist continue their racist support of the Trumplicant Republican Party to this very day. They can’t deny this so they find a bogyman for their retribution, Democrats, and deflect in that direction. They focus on the false premise that helping blacks is keeping them down, the very concept of which warps the very fabric of reality.

    We know who is on first base when it comes to our current racism in America — all of us.

    There is no discrimination except for affirmative action. Welfare makes people slaves to poverty. All institutions are Democratic and bad. The Federal Government is weaponized against us. Covid is just the flu. Masks bad, distancing bad, vaccines kill. The Big Lie is truth. Trump is our 2024 candidate of choice. That’s the Republican mantra of the Trumplicant era. A fake foundation does not support a trustworthy building.

    We all see progress. Many US racial problems have been solved. Many remain unsolved. Some must be tackled by blacks alone but most really need communities of blacks and whites to solve. Everyone is not a racist, Republicans are not all racists, but racists exist in far too many places. And systemic racism is not owned by one Party; it’s everywhere. We need a common set of facts to be able to find common ground. Only then can we more forward and away from retribution and blame.

    Booker T. Washington told us: there are people who profit from racism and they may not want solutions. There are a few, we can ignore them in the fight for equality. There will always be doubters, deniers, and deletants. I believe all can see that things are, and have been, getting better, yet we still have a long ways to go.

    This dog of a story don’t hunt and does not help either.