How would you define an American hero? Is it the one who climbs the ladder to achieve social and financial success? Is it the athlete who “sacrifices” his childhood or teen years for five minutes of glory at an Olympic event? Or is it the man or woman filled with courage, strength of character and nobility of purpose—one who risks or sacrifices his or her life to help those who cannot help themselves?
Booker T. Washington argued, “Success is not measured by the position one has reached in life, but rather by the obstacles overcome.”
This Free Think University course (created by a student group in partnership with The Booker T. Washington Society) has been designed to introduce you to the principles, values and impact of Booker T. Washington—a true American hero. His life story clearly portrays a commitment to the principles that defined him. Booker T.’s approach to life is summarized at the end of this course through a simple acronym.
Booker T.’s story is particularly timely. Many of our fellow citizens are asking the question: Why can’t we all just get along? It’s a simple question. There is also a simple answer, but most of us do not want to hear it. The answer is, “Because it’s hard work.” It is easier to dislike someone who is different from you. You can be richer, poorer, brighter, lighter, whiter, darker, fatter, skinnier, younger, older. It is simply harder to get to know or trust those who don’t look or think the way we do. Booker T. knew that.
Whether prejudice forms from envy, anger or fear, it is personal. To eliminate it in a real and lasting sense, change has to take place on the inside, and that is always a matter of individual choice. Booker T. knew that, too. Join us as we seek to discover how to live, learn and lead the Booker T. Washington way. Why? As Booker T. said, “[We should not] permit our grievances to overshadow our opportunities.”