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W. J. Edwards of Snow Hill, Alabama


By W. J. Edwards

I was born in Snow Hill, Wilcox County, Ala., in the year 1870. My mother died when I was twelve months old. About five or six years after this, perhaps, my father went away from Snow Hill; the next I heard he was dead. Thus at the age of six I was left without father or mother. I was then placed in the care of my old grandmother, who did all that was in her power to send me to the school located near us. Often for weeks I would go to school without anything but bread to eat. Occasionally she could secure a little piece of meat.

I well remember one morning, when I had started to school and she had given me all the meat that we had in the house, how it worried me that she should have nothing left for herself but bread. Worrying over our cramped condition, I resolved that what she did for me should not be thrown away. I longed for the time when I could repay her for all she had done for me.

At the age of twelve it pleased the Almighty God to take from me my grandmother, my only dependence. I was now left to fight the battle of life alone. I need not tell of the hard times and sufferings that I experienced until I entered school at the Tuskegee Institute. But knowing that I was without parents, and being sick most of the time, my hardships can be imagined.

Through a minister I heard of the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in the early part of 1888, and so favorably was it recommended that I decided I would rent two acres of land and raise a crop, and take the proceeds and go to Tuskegee the following fall. After paying my rents and other small debts I had $20 left with which to buy my clothes and start for Tuskegee, which I did, starting on the 27th of December, 1888, and arriving at Tuskegee on the first day of January, 1889, with $10. I had walked most of the way. I was at Tuskegee for four and one-half years. I managed to stay there for that length of time by working one day in the week and every other Saturday during the term and all of the vacations.

During my Senior year I was helped by Mr. R. O. Simpson, the owner of the plantation on which I was reared. I had trouble that year in deciding just what I should do after graduation. It had been my conviction that I must be a lawyer or a minister. In contemplating the idea of becoming a lawyer, however, I could not see wherein I could carry out the Tuskegee Idea of uplifting the masses. The ministerial profession was very little better, since the work of the minister in our section of the country must be limited almost wholly to one denomination. So I finally decided to try to plant an institution similar to the Tuskegee School, an undenominational one, in a section of Alabama where such work should be needed. I chose, as my field of labor, Snow Hill, the place from which I had gone to enter school at Tuskegee.

The school is now known as the Snow Hill Normal and Industrial Institute, and is located in the very center of the "Black Belt" of the State of Alabama. This is a much-used term; it is not applicable, however, to every Southern State, neither does it apply to every county in any one State. It is only to certain counties in certain States to which it may properly be applied. Wilcox and the seven adjoining counties constitute one of these sections in Alabama. The latest census shows that these eight counties have a colored population of 201,539, and a white population of 69,915.

Alabama has sixty-seven counties, with a total colored population of 827,307. Thus it will be seen that one-eighth of the counties contain one-fourth of the entire colored population. Because the colored people outnumber the white people in such great proportion, this is called the "Black Belt" of the State. These counties lie in the valley of the Alabama River, and constitute the most fertile section of the State.

During the early settlement of the State, white men coming into these fertile counties not only would settle as much land as a family of four or five in number could cultivate, but as much as they were able to buy Negroes to cultivate. Quite a few families with only five or six in number would have land enough to work from 100 to 1,000 Negroes. One can see from this how a few white families would, as they often did, own a whole county. Now the Negro is not migratory in his nature; having been brought to these counties during slavery, he has remained here in freedom. He is not, therefore, primarily responsible for his being here in such great numbers. These white families settled in little villages seven or eight miles apart. The distances between were made up of their plantations, on which were thousands of slaves. Only a few Negroes were employed as domestics in comparison with the great numbers who worked on plantations. It was only these few who, in learning to serve the white man, properly got a glimpse of real home life. The masses had absolutely no idea of such a life; nothing was done that would lead them to secure any such knowledge.

Since their emancipation the masses of these people have had neither competent preachers nor teachers; consequently most of them have remained hopelessly ignorant even until this day. One hearing the great condemnation heaped upon the Negro in these sections for his failure to measure up to the standards of true citizenship and to proper standards of life would get the idea that the proud Anglo-Saxon has spent a great deal of time in trying to teach him the fundamental principles that underlie life; but this is not the case. There are exceptions to all rules, however, and here and there one may find noble and patriotic white men laboring for the uplift of fallen humanity without regard to race, color, or previous condition.

During the summer of 1893, after returning from Tuskegee, being anxious to learn more of the real condition of our people in the "Black Belt," I visited most of the places in Wilcox County and a few places in the counties of Monroe, Butler, Dallas, and Lowndes, making the entire journey on foot.

It was a bright and beautiful morning in June when I started from my home, a log cabin. More than two hundred Negroes were in the near-by fields plowing corn, hoeing cotton, and singing those beautiful songs often referred to as plantation melodies. Notably, I am Going to Roll in my Jesus' Arms; O Freedom! Before I'd be a Slave I'd be Carried to My Grave, etc., may be mentioned. With the beautiful fields of corn and cotton outstretched before me, and the shimmering brook like a silver thread twining its way through the golden meadows, and then through verdant fields, giving water to thousands of creatures as it passed, I felt that the earth was truly clothed in His beauty and the fulness of His glory.

But I had scarcely gone beyond the limits of the field when I came to a thick undergrowth of pines. Here we saw old pieces of timber and two posts.

"This marks the old cotton-gin house," said Uncle Jim, my companion, and then his countenance grew sad; after a sigh he said: "I have seen many a Negro whipped within an inch of his life at these posts. I have seen them whipped so badly that they had to be carried away in wagons. Many never did recover."

From this our road led first up-hill, then down, and finally through a stretch of woods until we reached Carlowville. This was once the most aristocratic village of the southern part of Dallas County. Perhaps no one who owned less than a hundred slaves was able to secure a home within its borders. Here still are to be seen the stately mansions of the Lydes, the Lees, the Wrumphs, the Bibbses, the Youngbloods, and the Reynoldses. Many of these mansions have been partly rebuilt and remodeled to conform to modern styles of architecture, while others have been deserted and are now fast decaying. Usually these mansions are occupied by others than the original families. The original families have sold out or have died out.

In Carlowville stands the largest white church in Dallas or Wilcox Counties. It has a seating capacity of 1,000, excluding the balcony, which, during slavery, was used exclusively for the Negroes of the families attending.

Our stay in Carlowville was necessarily short, as the evening sun was low and the nearest place for lodging was two miles ahead. Before reaching this place we came to a large one-room log cabin, 30 feet by 36 feet, on the road-side, with a double door and three holes for windows cut in the sides. There was no chimney nor anything to show that the room could be heated in cold weather. This was the Hope-well Baptist Church. Here 500 members congregated one Sunday in each month and spent the entire day in eating, shouting, and "praising God for His goodness toward the children of men." Here also the three months' school was taught during the winter. A few hundred yards beyond this church brought us to the home of a Deacon Jones.

He was living in the house occupied by the overseer of the plantation during slavery. It was customary for Deacon Jones to care for strangers who chanced to come into the community, especially for the preachers and teachers. So here we found rest.

His family consisted of himself, his wife, and six children—two boys and four girls. Mrs. Jones was noted for her ability to prepare food well, and in a short while invited us to a delicious supper of fried chicken, fried ham, some very fine home-made sugar-cane sirup, and an abundance of milk and butter. At supper Deacon Jones told of the many preachers he had entertained and their fondness for chicken.

After supper I spent some time in trying to find out the real condition of the people in this section. Mr. Jones told me how, for ten years, he had been trying to buy some land, and had been kept from it more than once, but that he was still hopeful of getting the right deeds for the land for which he had paid. He also told of many families who had recently moved into this community. These newcomers had made a good start for the year and had promising crops, but they were compelled to mortgage their growing crops in order to get "advances" for the year.

When asked of the schools, he said that there were more than five hundred children of school age in his township, but not more than two hundred of these had attended school the previous winter, and most of these for a period not longer than six weeks. He also said that the people were very indifferent as to the necessity of schoolhouses and churches. Quite a few who cleared a little money the previous year had spent it all in buying whisky, in gambling, in buying cheap jewelry, and for other useless articles. After spending two hours in such talk I retired for the evening. Thus ended the first day of my search for first-hand information.

We had a fine night's rest. Mr. Jones was up at early dawn to feed his horses and cattle, and before the sun was up he was out on his farm. Mrs. Jones and one of the daughters were left to prepare breakfast, and soon they, too, were ready to join the others on the farm. We took advantage of this early rising and were soon off on our journey.

Instead of going farther northward, we turned our course westward for the town of Tilden, which is only eight miles west of Snow Hill. The road from Carlowville to Tilden is somewhat hilly, but a very pleasant one, and for miles the large oak-trees formed an almost perfect arch.

On reaching Tilden we learned that there would be a union meeting of two of the churches that night. I decided that this would give me an opportunity to study the religious life of these people for myself. The members of churches No. 1 and No. 2 assembled at their respective places at eight o'clock. The members of church No. 2 had a short praise-service, and formed a line of procession to march to church No. 1. All the women of the congregation had their heads bound in pieces of white cloth, and they sang their peculiar songs as they marched. When the members of church No. 2 were within a few hundred yards of church No. 1, the singing then alternated, and finally, when the members of church No. 2 came to church No. 1, they marched around this church three times before entering it. After entering, six sermons were preached to the two congregations by six different ministers, and at least three of these could not read a word in the Bible. Each minister occupied at least one hour. Their texts were as often taken from Webster's blue-back speller as from the Bible, and sometimes this would be held upside down. It was about two o'clock in the morning when the services were concluded.

Here, again, we found no schoolhouses, and the three months' school had been taught in one of the little churches.

The next day we started for Camden, a distance of sixteen miles. This section between Tilden and Camden is perhaps the most fertile section of land in the State of Alabama. Taking a southwest course from Tilden, I crossed into Wilcox County again, where I saw acres of corn and miles of cotton, all being cultivated by Negroes.

The evening was far advanced when we reached Camden, but having been there before, we had no difficulty in securing lodging. Camden is the seat of Wilcox County, and has a population of about three thousand inhabitants.

The most costly buildings of the town were the court-house and jail, and these occupied the most conspicuous places.

Here great crowds of Negroes would gather on Saturdays to spend their earnings of the week for a fine breakfast or dinner on the following Sunday, or for useless trivialities.

On Saturday evenings, on the roads leading to and from Camden, as from other towns, could be seen groups of Negroes gambling here and there, and buying and selling whisky. As the county had voted against licensing whisky-selling, this was a violation of the law, and often the commission merchant, a Negro, was imprisoned for the offense, while those who supplied him went free.

In Camden I found one Negro schoolhouse; this was a box-like cottage, 20 by 16 feet, and was supposed to seat more than one hundred students. This school, like those taught in the churches, was open only three months in the year.

After a two days' stay in Camden I next visited Miller's Ferry; this is on the Alabama River, twelve miles west of Camden. The road from Camden is one of the best roads in the State, and for miles and miles one could see nothing but cotton and corn.

At Miller's Ferry a Negro schoolhouse of ample proportions had been built on Judge Henderson's plantation. Here the school ran seven months in the year, and the colored people in the community were prosperous and showed a remarkable degree of intelligence. Their church was equally as attractive as their schoolhouse.

Judge Henderson was for twelve years Probate Judge of Wilcox County. He proved to be one of the best judges this county has ever had, and even unto this day he is admired by all, both white and black, rich and poor, for his honesty, integrity, and high sense of justice. From Judge Henderson's place we traveled southward to Rock-west, a distance of more than fifteen miles. During this journey hundreds of Negroes were seen at work in the corn- and cotton-fields. These people were almost wholly ignorant, as they had neither schools nor teachers, and their ministers were almost wholly illiterate.

At Rock-west I found a very intelligent colored man who had attended school at Selma, Ala., for a few years. He owned his home and ran a small grocery. He told of the hardships with which he had to contend in building up his business, and of the almost hopeless condition of the Negroes about there. He said that they usually made money each year, but that they did not know how to keep it. The merchants would induce them to buy buggies, machines, clocks, etc., but would never encourage them to buy homes. We were very much pleased with the reception which Mr. Darrington gave us, and felt very much like putting into practise our State motto, "Here We Rest," at his home, but our objective point for the day was Fatama, sixteen miles away.

On our journey that afternoon we saw hundreds of Negro one-room log cabins. Some of these were located in the dense swamps and some on the hills, while others were miles away from the public road. Most of these people had never seen a locomotive. We reached Fatama about seven o'clock that night, and here for the first time we were compelled to divide our crowd in order to get a night's lodging. Each of us had to spend the night in a one-room cabin. It was my privilege to spend the night with Uncle Jake, a jovial old man, a local celebrity. After telling him of our weary journey, he immediately made preparation for me to retire. This was done by cutting off my bed from the remainder of the cabin by hanging up a sheet on a screen. While somewhat inconvenient, my rest that night was pleasant, and the next morning found me very much refreshed and ready for another day's journey. Our company assembled at Uncle Jake's for breakfast, after which we started for Pineapple.

We found the condition of the Negroes between Fatama and Pineapple much the same as that of those we had seen the previous day. No schoolhouse was to be seen, but occasionally we would see a church at the cross-roads. We reached Pineapple late in the afternoon.

From Pineapple we went to Greenville, and from Greenville to Fort Deposit, and from Fort Deposit we returned to Snow Hill, after having traveled a distance of 157 miles and visiting four counties.

In three of these counties there is a colored population of 42,810 between the ages of five and twenty years, and a white population of 7,608 of the same ages. In fact, the Negro school population of Wilcox and the seven adjoining counties is as follows: Wilcox, 11,623; Dallas, 18,292; Lowndes, 13,044; Monroe, 5,615; Butler, 5,924; Marengo, 12,362; Clark, 6,898; Perry, 10,723; making a total of 85,499. Speaking of public schools in the sense that educators use the term, the colored people in this section have none. Of course, there are so-called public schools here and there, running from three to five months in the year and paying the teachers from $7.50 to $18 per month; but the teachers are incompetent, and the schools are usually in the hands of those not too much interested in the cause of education. Many of these trustees do not visit the schools once in ten years, and they know absolutely nothing of the methods of discipline even used by the teachers.

Our trip through this section revealed the following facts: (1) That while many opportunities were denied our people, they abused many privileges; (2) that there was a colored population, in this section visited, of more than 200,000, and a school population of 85,499; (3) that the people were ignorant and superstitious; (4) that the teachers and preachers for the most part were of the same condition; (5) that there were no public or private libraries and reading-rooms to which they had access; (6) that, strictly speaking, there were no public schools and only one private one. Now what can be expected of any people in such a condition? Can the blind lead the blind? They could not in the days of old, and it is not likely that they can now.

After this trip through the "Black Belt" I was more convinced than ever before of the great need of an industrial school in the very midst of these people; a school that would correct the erroneous ideas the people held of education; a school that would put most stress upon the things which the people were most likely to have to do with through life; a school that would endeavor to make education practical rather than theoretical; a school that would train men and women to be good workers, good leaders, good husbands, good wives, and finally train them to be fit citizens of the State, and proper subjects for the kingdom of God.

With this idea the Snow Hill Normal and Industrial Institute was started ten years ago in an old, dilapidated, one-room log cabin with one teacher, three students, and no State appropriation, and without any church or society responsible for one dollar of its expenses. Aside from this unfortunate state of affairs, the condition of the people was most miserable. This was due partly to poor crops and partly to bad management on their part.

In many instances the tenants were not only unable to pay their debts, but were also unable to pay their rents. In a few cases the landlords had to provide, at their own expense, provisions for their tenants. This was simply another way of establishing soup-houses on the plantations. The idea of buying land was foreign to all of them, and there were not more than twenty acres of land owned by the colored people in this whole neighborhood. The churches and schools were practically closed, while crime and immorality were rampant. The carrying of men and women to the chain-gang was a frequent occurrence. Aside from all this, these people believed that the end of education was to free their children from manual labor rather than prepare them for more and better work. They were very much opposed to industrial education. When the school was started, many of the parents came to the school and forbade our "working" their children, stating as their objection that their children had been working all their lives, and they did not mean to send them to school to learn to work. Not only did they forbid our having their children work, but many took their children out of school rather than have them do so. A good deal of this opposition was kept up by illiterate preachers and incompetent teachers, here and there, who had not had any particular training for their profession. In fact, ninety-eight per cent of them had attended no school. We continued, however, to keep the "industrial plank" in our platform, and year after year some additional industry was added until we now have thirteen industries in constant operation. Agriculture is the foremost and basic industry of the institution. We do this because we are in a farming section and ninety-five per cent of the people in this section depend upon some form of agriculture for a livelihood. How changed are the conditions now as regards our work! From the little one-room log cabin, the school has grown so that it now owns 100 acres of land, 14 buildings, counting large and small, with property valued at $37,000. From three students, it has grown so that we now have a school with more than four hundred students annually in attendance, representing more than a dozen Alabama counties and seven States. It has also grown from one to twenty teachers and officers. Including the class that graduated last term, thirty-seven have finished the course. All are living but one. No charge of criminal wrong-doing has been brought against even one of them. One of the young women is married to the head teacher, another to the superintendent of industries, and seven other graduates are employed in responsible positions by the school. One of these has taken a special course at Harvard University, three have taken additional courses at Tuskegee, one is in charge of the woman's department of a large school in Mississippi, two have founded schools of their own, one at Tilden, Ala., the other at Greensboro, Ala. All have remained in the country among the masses whom they are helping to uplift, and most of them in Wilcox County, the county in which the school is located. Of the thirty-seven graduates, twenty-seven own their own homes. Aside from the graduates, about five hundred others have been under the influence of the school for a longer or shorter period; many of these are making exceptionally good records.

The growth on the part of the people has kept corresponding pace with the growth of the institution. The farmers, who ten years ago depended wholly on the landlords for food supplies, have grown to be independent, raising most of their own supplies. They are rapidly passing from the renters' class to the owners' class; they are possessing themselves of the soil. This may be seen from the fact that ten years ago they owned in this county but twenty acres of land; to-day they own 4,000 acres of land. Many of the most prosperous farmers have opened bank-accounts. The people no longer oppose industrial education; they now refuse to send their children to any school where they can not secure some industrial education.

For our part we find it wholly impossible to accommodate all who come to us from time to time to take the trades' instruction. The churches hereabout have been revived, new and better schoolhouses have been built, and the county school terms extended in many cases from two and three to five and six months; competent teachers and preachers, both intellectually and morally, have been employed. Crime and immorality are being uprooted, and virtue and civic righteousness are being planted in their stead. The commercial and economic conditions have improved in every way, and there was never a more cordial relation existing between the races in this section than now. With these things true, the one-room log cabin can not survive, and is rapidly giving way to houses having three, four, and, in some places, six and seven rooms.

After having been here at Snow Hill for a few years, we felt that while we were helping the children in the class-room, something should be done to help the parents; so we organized what we call the Snow Hill Negro Conference, on January 13, 1897. This conference is modeled after the famous Tuskegee Negro Conferences, and meets once a year. At this conference the farmers from this and the adjoining counties come together. There were 500 at our last conference. The school is almost wholly given up to farmers on Conference day. Here we listen to educational, religious, moral, and financial reports from many sections. Those who have succeeded, tell the others how they have done so, and those who have not succeeded tell how they are trying to succeed. From these annual meetings the farmers get new ideas, new information, and take fresh courage; they return to their farms more determined to succeed than ever before. When we commenced these meetings the reports were discouraging, and from many sections the condition of the race thereabout seemed hopeless. Many said that in the same section they could not buy land at any price. There were only twenty acres of land reported at the first conference. At the last one, reports showed that the people had purchased more than four thousand acres since the beginning of these conferences seven years ago. At our first meeting the reports showed that the one-room log-cabin home was the rule; at our last meeting it had become the exception. These conferences have tried all along to induce the people to raise more of their own food-supplies. We also waged a ceaseless war upon the one-room log-cabin home, which has resulted in almost annihilating them. This war shall never cease until there is not a one-room log cabin left in all this section. The one-room log cabin is a pestilent menace to decent living.

Following the farmers' conference, we have the workers' conference during vacation. This conference is chiefly composed of teachers and preachers, and represents an idea got from Tuskegee. In this conference we get a clear idea of what the teachers and preachers are doing, the methods they are pursuing, and the results being achieved. The teachers are encouraged to make education less theoretical and more practical; the preachers are urged to preach to our people less of the dying religion and more of the living religion. While they are encouraged to build better schoolhouses and churches, they are also reminded of the fact that these are not the ends, but only the means to an end; that they are only of value in proportion as they can be used to build up a hopeful and noble life in the communities where they are located. However much the material side may be held up to them, they are told that in the last analysis the spiritual is always the end. The reports at our last Workers' Conference were most encouraging. Wherever the intelligent teacher and preacher have gone, the condition of the people has been improved. To my mind this demonstrates most clearly that the great need of our people is intelligent leaders, and it is this that we ask for; it is this for which Snow Hill is striving. While much good is being accomplished through the Workers' Conference, the "Black Belt Improvement Society," which I have organized, deals more directly with the people in our immediate neighborhood. The aim of this society is clearly set forth in its constitution, a part of which is as follows:

1. This society shall be known as the Black Belt Improvement Society. Its object shall be the general uplift of the people of the Black Belt of Alabama; to make them better morally, mentally, spiritually, and financially.

2. It shall be the object of the Black Belt Improvement Society to, as far as possible, eliminate the credit system from our social fabric; to stimulate in all members the desire to raise, as far as possible, all their food supplies at home, and pay cash for whatever may be purchased at the stores.

3. To bring about a system of cooperation in the purchase of what supplies can not be raised at home wherever it can be done to advantage.

4. To discuss topics of interest to the communities in which the various societies may be organized, and topics relating to the general welfare of the race, and especially to farmers.

5. To teach the people to practise the strictest economy, and especially to obtain and diffuse such information among farmers as shall lead to the improvement and diversification of crops, in order to create in farmers a desire for homes and better home conditions, and to stimulate a love for labor in both old and young. Each local organization may offer small prizes for the cleanest and best-kept house, the best pea-patch, and the best ear of corn, etc.

6. To aid each other in sickness and in death; for this purpose a fee of ten cents will be collected from each member every month and held sacred, to be used for no other purpose whatever.

7. It shall be one of the great objects of this society to stimulate its members to acquire homes, and urge those who already possess homes to improve and beautify them.

8. To urge our members to purchase only the things that are absolutely necessary.

9. To exert our every effort to obliterate those evils which tend to destroy our character and our homes, such as intemperance, gambling, and social impurity.

10. To refrain from spending money and time foolishly or in unprofitable ways; to take an interest in the care of our highways, in the paying of our taxes, and the education of our children; to plant shade trees, repair our yard fences, and in general, as far as possible, bring our home life up to the highest standards of civilization.

This society has several standing committees, as follows: on government, on education, on business, on housekeeping, on labor, and on farming. The chairman of these respective committees holds monthly meetings in the various communities, at which time various topics pertaining to the welfare and uplift of the people are discussed. As a result of these meetings the people return to their homes with new inspiration. These meetings are doing good in the communities where they are being held, and our sincere hope is that such meetings may be extended. The ills that most retard the Negroes of the rural South are sought to be reached by the school and by the several organizations which have been organized by it. These articles of the simple constitution go to the very bottom of the conditions.

If one would again take the trip which I made in the summer of 1893, he would find that two-thirds of the land lying between Snow Hill and Carlowville, a distance of seven miles, is now owned and controlled entirely by Negroes. In Carlowville, instead of the old one-room-cabin church, there is a beautiful church with glass windows. An acre of land has been bought, and a neat and comfortable schoolhouse with glass windows has been erected, and a graduate of my school is the teacher. Many families in that section are now owning homes. A great revolution is also taking place in Tilden. John Thomas, one of our graduates, Class of '01, has gone into this place, induced the people to buy thirty acres of land, on which they have erected a splendid building having two rooms, and the school is being conducted seven months in the year. Many farmers in this section are now owning homes, some of them owning as much as 400 acres of land. This improvement is steadily going on in all sections where the influence of our school has reached.

Thus it will be seen that the work in the class-room is only a small part of what we are trying to do for the uplift of the Negro people in the Black Belt.

In order that this good work may be pushed more rapidly, it is necessary that we give some time to this particular movement. This can only be done by our having here a strong and healthy institution with an endowment sufficiently large to relieve us of our great financial burden. An adequate endowment would meet this need. While we are anxious to raise an endowment fund, our burden could be partially relieved by the school securing possession of a large plantation in the neighborhood which is now, and has been for three years, offered to us. This plantation contains between three thousand and four thousand acres of land, and can be bought for $30,000, and would afford us unbounded opportunity for the extension of the agricultural features of our work, which would enable us to raise more, if not all, of our food supplies.

I have tried as simply as possible in this article to state the real condition of the people in the Black Belt section of this State, and to tell how we are trying to cope with these conditions. Our constant feeling is that there is so much to be done, and that so little has been accomplished.

In closing: The inspiration derived at Tuskegee; the instruction given in shop, and field, and class-room; the guiding hand of its illustrious Principal—all of these have had their impress upon me and have urged me to dedicate myself unreservedly to these people, among whom I was reared, among whom I shall continue to labor, among whom I shall at the last be buried.

Booker T. Washington