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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Greatness Of My Cause

Back in the early part of the twentieth century, Booker T. Washington was struggling to build a school for the education of black people in the South – in Tuskegee, Alabama. He had very meager beginnings. He was attempting the impossible. Anyway, Mr. Washington was granted an appointment with the great philanthropist Andrew Carnegie to ask for monetary help in the work. He went. He made his appeal. Mr. Carnegie reached down in his desk drawer for his checkbook and gave Mr. Washington a check in the amount of five thousand dollars. Of course, five thousand dollars was more than now, so it was nothing to be ungrateful for. However, Mr. Washington looked the check over and handed it back with the words, “Mr. Carnegie, it is obvious I have failed to impress you with the greatness of my cause.” And he asked for another appointment. He went home, did his homework a bit better and returned. This time Mr. Carnegie gave him a check for five hundred thousand dollars – one half million dollars! – and the Encyclopedia Britannica says he sent that amount every year for some years thereafter to the work of the Tuskegee Institute for the education of black people.