Booker T. Washington Quotes
1. I have learned that 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 while trying to succeed.
2. I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.
3. Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.
4. There is another class of coloured 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.
5. You can’t hold a man down without staying down with him.
6. Associate yourself with people of good quality, for it is better to be alone than to be in bad company
7. Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way.
8. Character, not circumstance, makes the person.
9. I have begun everything with the idea that I could succeed, and I never had much patience with the multitudes of people who are always ready to explain why one cannot succeed.
10. We all should rise, above the clouds of ignorance, narrowness, and selfishness.
11. No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem.
12. Egotism is the anesthetic that dulls the pain of stupidity
13. The older I grow, the more I am convinced that there is no education which one can get from books and costly apparatus that is equal to that which can be gotten from contact with great men and women.
14. Among a large class, there seemed to be a dependence upon the government for every conceivable thing. The members of this class had little ambition to create a position for themselves, but wanted the federal officials to create one for them. How many times I wished then and have often wished since, that by some power of magic, I might remove the great bulk of these people into the country districts and plant them upon the soil – upon the solid and never deceptive foundation of Mother Nature, where all nations and races that have ever succeeded have gotten their start – a start that at first may be slow and toilsome, but one that nevertheless is real.
15. There are two ways of exerting one’s strength; one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.
16. The happiest people are those who do the most for others. The most miserable are those who do the least.
17. If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.
18. The thing to do when one feels sure that he has said or done the right thing and is condemned, is to stand still and keep quiet. If he is right, time will show it.
19. The world cares little about what a man knows;it cares more about what a man is able to do.
20. Success always leaves footprints.
21. 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 someone else more happy.
22. I early learned that it is a hard matter to convert an individual by abusing him, and that this is more often accomplished by giving credit for all the praiseworthy actions performed than by calling attention alone to all the evil done.
23. Success is not measured by the position one has reached in life, rather by the obstacles one overcomes while trying to succeed
24. You measure the size of the accomplishment by the obstacles you have to overcome to reach your goals.
25. Great men cultivate love and only little men cherish a spirit of hatred; assistance given to the weak makes the one who gives it strong; oppression of the unfortunate makes one weak.
26. In order to be successful in any undertaking, I think the main thing is for one to grow to the point where he completely forgets himself; that is, to lose himself in a great cause. In proportion as one loses himself in this way, in the same degree does he get the highest happiness out of his work.
27. It is important and right that all privileges of the law be ours, but it is vastly more important that we be prepared for the exercise of those privileges.
28. Character is power.
29. I would permit no man, no matter what his color might be, to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.
30. 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.
31. A lie doesn’t become truth, wrong doesn’t become right, and evil doesn’t become good, just because it’s accepted by a majority.
32. I learned what education was expected to do for an individual. Before going there I had a good deal of the then rather prevalent idea among our people that to secure an education meant to have a good, easy time, free from all necessity for manual labor. At Hampton I not only learned that it was not a disgrace to labor, but learned to love labor, not alone for its financial value, but for labor’s own sake and for the independence and self-reliance which the ability to do something which the world wants done brings. 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.
33. No white American ever thinks that any other race is wholly civilized until he wears the white man’s clothes, eats the white man’s food, speaks the white man’s language, and professes the white man’s religion.
34. Nothing ever comes to me, that is worth having, except as the result of hard work.
35. It means a great deal, I think, to start off on a foundation which one has made for oneself.
36. 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 colour 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.
37. The wisest among my race understand that agitations of social equality is the extremist folly, and that progress in the enjoyment of all privileges that will come to us must be the result of severe and constant struggle rather than of artificial forcing.
38. I shall never permit myself to stoop so low as to hate any man.
39. I began learning long ago that those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.
40. Success is not to be measured by the position someone has reached in life, but the obstacles he has overcome while trying to succeed.
41. In all things social we can be as seperate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.
42. The great human law that in the end recognizes and rewards merit is everlasting and universal.
43. 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 colour 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.
44. The ambition to secure an education was most praiseworthy and encouraging. The idea, however, was too prevalent that, as soon as one secured a little education, in some unexplainable way he would be free from most of the hardships of the world, and, at any rate, could live without manual labour. There was a further feeling that a knowledge, however little, of the Greek and Latin languages would make one a very superior human being, something bordering almost on the supernatural
45. Too often, it seems to me, in missionary and educational work among underdeveloped races, people yield to the temptation of doing that which was done a hundred years before, or is being done in other communities a thousand miles away. The temptation often is to run each individual through a certain educational mould, regardless of the condition of the subject or the end to be accomplished.
46. I knew that, in a large degree, we were trying an experiment–that of testing whether or not it was possible for Negroes to build up and control the affairs of a large education institution. I knew that if we failed it wold injure the whole race.
47. I had the feeling that to get into a schoolhouse and study in this way would be about the same as getting into paradise.
48. Those who have accomplished the greatest results are those who never grow excited or lose self-control, but are always calm, self-possessed, patient, and polite.
49. My experience is that people who call themselves “The Intellectuals” understand theories, but they do not understand things. I have long been convinced that, if these men could have gone into the South and taken up and become interested in some practical work which would have brought them in touch with people and things, the whole world would have looked very different to them. Bad as conditions might have seemed at first, when they saw that actual progress was being made, they would have taken a more hopeful view of the situation.
50. From his example in this respect 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.
51. Associate yourself with people of good quality, for it is better to be alone than in bad company.
52. The white man who begins by cheating a Negro usually ends by cheating a white man. The white man who begins to break the law by lynching a Negro soon yields to the temptation to lynch a white man.
53. Among a large class there seemed to be a dependence upon the Government for every conceivable thing. The members of this class had little ambition to create a position for themselves, but wanted the Federal officials to create one for them.
54. One man cannot hold another man down in the ditch without remaining down in the ditch with him.
55. I have been made to feel sad for such persons because I am conscious of the fact that mere connection with what is known as a superior race will not permanently carry an individual forward unless he has individual worth, and mere connection with what is regarded as an inferior race will not finally hold an individual back if he possesses intrinsic, individual merit. Every persecuted individual and race should get much consolation out of the great human law, which is universal and eternal, that merit, no matter under what skin found, is, in the long run, recognized and rewarded.
56. The Negro is not the man farthest down. The condition of the coloured farmer in the most backward parts of the Southern States of America, even where he has the least education and the least encouragement, is incomparably better than the condition and opportunities of the agricultural population in Sicily.
57. Before the end of the year, I think I began learning that those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.
58. Education is not a thing apart from life—not a “system,” nor a philosophy; it is direct teaching how to live and how to work.
59. that my mother had strength of character enough not to be led into the temptation of seeming to be that which she was not—of
60. A race, like an individual, lifts itself up by lifting others up.