booker t. washington

Beyond the obvious beauty and grace of our First Lady, one must consider the historic importance of this photo. Our history books sweep under the rug the fact that the White House was built by African American slaves. For the next 150 years the majority of the serving staff of the so called “people’s house” were African American. In 1901 Booker T. Washington was the first African American to be received there as a guest by Theodore Roosevelt, to the horror of Washington society. They are all at last vindicated in our first African American first family. Note…It is my humble opinion that no matter what family should occupy the White House after January 2017, and the following generations for that matter, they will never equal the style, debonair, and class as that of the Obamas.

Here is an amazing portrait of American Sculptor: SELMA BURKE with her bust of Booker T. Washington by the photographer: PINCHOS HORN taken in 1935.

“Alberta Virginia Scott, a resident of Cambridgeport, was the first African American graduate of Radcliffe College.

Alberta was born near Richmond, Virginia, the daughter of Smith and Fanny Bunch Scott. When she was six years old, her family moved to Cambridge, where they lived in several locations in the "lower Port,” a traditionally black neighborhood near Kendall Square that has been replaced with office buildings. Her father, a boiler tender and stationary engineer, was a deacon at the Union Baptist Church on Main Street As a child, Scott devoted herself to intensive study. From the time she entered elementary school, it was said that she had a studious disposition. At Union Baptist, she taught Sunday school under the guidance of her friend Charlotte Hawkins.

Scott graduated with distinction from the Cambridge Latin School in 1894 and entered Radcliffe College, where she studied science and the classics and belonged to the Idler and German clubs. Radcliffe had no dormitories at that time, so during her first two years there she lived with an African American family on Parker Street. In her senior year, she lived at home at 28 Union Street. When she finished college in 1898, she was only the fourth African American to graduate from a women’s college in Massachusetts.

Scott decided that it was her duty to teach African American children in the South rather than stay in Massachusetts. At first she taught in an Indianapolis high school, but in 1900 Booker T. Washington recruited her to teach at the Tuskegee Institute. Scott’s promising future was tragically cut short. After a year in Alabama, she fell sick and returned to Cambridge, where she died at her parents’ home at 37 Hubbard Avenue on August 30, 1902. Charlotte Hawkins sang at her funeral. which was conducted by the Reverend Jesse Harrell of the Union Baptist Church.“

Portrait: Ca. 1898.

AUGUST 5: Ernestine “Tiny” Davis (1909-1994)

Born on this day in 1909, Ernestine Davis was a popular jazz singer and trumpeter of the LGBT music scene. Nicknamed “Tiny,” she gained fame with The International Sweethearts of Rhythm which was the very first fully-integrated, all-female big band in the United States. 

Tiny was often called “the female Louis Armstrong” (x).

Tiny was born on August 5, 1909 in Memphis, Tennessee. She was her parents’ youngest child out of seven and grew up with 4 older sisters and 2 older brothers. She attended Booker T. Washington High School and it was there where Tiny first picked up a trumpet and discovered her natural musical abilities. When the family moved to Kansas City in 1935, Tiny joined a band called the Harlem-Play Girls but she was forced to leave the group a year later with the birth of her first child from her marriage to Clarence Davis.

In 1941, The International Sweethearts of Rhythm jazz band severed its ties with the Piney Woods Country Life School of Mississippi which had founded the band back in 1937. Now based in Virginia and free of all financial responsibilities to Piney Woods, the 16-piece band began recruiting new members. Tiny was one of three musicians who the band picked up for this new era and during her 7 years with The International Sweethearts, Tiny toured all across the United States, performed at The Apollo for celebrity musicians such as Louis Armstrong and Eddie Durham, and took part in a USO tour during World War II.

Tiny performs “How ‘Bout That Jive?” with The International Sweethearts of Rhythm.

In 1947, Tiny left The International Sweethearts and started her own band called The Prairie Co-Eds, which was later renamed to The Hell Divers. Her new band enjoyed a successful career of touring throughout the Caribbean and Central America and recording for Decca Records before disbanding in 1952. From the mid-1950s until their deaths, Tiny and her partner Ruby Lucas – who was also a musician and was the bassist for The Hell Divers – operated a club in Chicago called Tiny & Ruby’s Gay Spot. Tiny regularly performed at the club well into her old age and passed away on January 30, 1994. You can learn more about Tiny in the 1988 documentary dedicated to her over 40-year long relationship with Ruby titled Tiny & Ruby: Hell Divin’ Women!


Ida B. Wells thorough criticism of lynching in the South and her derailing of the excuses being given to justify southern whites murder of thousand of Black men, women and chidren is a must read. I advise you become knowledgeable of her articles A Red Record and Lynch Law, it is also notable that she wrote these aroud the same time of Booker T. Washington’s push for blacks to work with/for whites.

Ida B. Wells should be taught in history classes all over the country

You may fill your heads with knowledge or skillfully train your hands, but unless it is based upon high, upright character, upon a true heart, it will amount to nothing. You will be no better than the most ignorant.
—  Booker T Washington  (1856-1915 ) American educator 

Several pages from a family photo album (ca. 1900 to 1940), part of the ICP’s Cowin Collection of African-American Vernacular Photography.

This image of the Tuskegee class of 1910 is pasted into a family album containing photographs ranging in date from ca. 1900 to 1940.

“The older I grow, the more I am convinced … 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.” ― Booker T. Washington

On this day in 1856, Booker T. Washington was born into slavery. Despite the obstacles … he went on to do great things. The moral of the story … no matter your position right now … surround yourself with QUALITY people or better yet, seek someone out that does what YOU want to do or want to know … and ask them a question. It may be the start of something great. Happy Friday!