Character Building by Booker T. Washington

“If you want to be happy, if you want to live a contented life, if you want to live a life of genuine pleasure, do something for somebody else. When you feel unhappy, disagreeable, and miserable, go to someone else who is miserable and do that person an act of kindness, and you will find that you will be made happy. The miserable persons in this world are the ones whose hearts are narrow and hard; the happy ones are those who have great big hearts. Such persons are always happy.” – Booker T. Washington

A must-read for those looking for practical solutions to racial upliftment or for those wanting to know what the black community could do to help themselves. Although many of the industrial and agricultural solutions he offers are outdated, it’s still fruitful to see his perspective and how concerned leaders of today could make adjustments to his suggestions for this period in time.

In addition to the emphasis on industrial education, Washington offers a practical guide for building character and acquiring happiness. This book is not for the faint of heart. It is brutally blunt, and at times stereotypical about the shortcomings of the black community during his day and it outlines what Washington felt was necessary to help the race develop in all facets of life. I see why W.E.B. Du Bois, an agitator, was upset with Washington’s accommodationist stance on race relations. Washington was more focused on development rather than protest. It’s a politically incorrect guide in a few sections, folks. After all, this book was published in 1902. But all in all, it helped me learn some of the things I could do to develop in my own life and in whatever I set out to do. So I say, CHARACTER BUILDING will make you think for sure.

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