Jackson High School
1916 Commencement
Corsicana, Navarro County, Texas


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Prominent Local Attorney Makes Address to Colored Students

Mr. Editor, Sun:

You will kindly consent to publish in the Sun the address to Hon. W. A. Tarver of this city, to the colored citizens on occasion of the Industrial Exhibition at the close of the colored school last Friday evening at the Johnson building.

This address was significant and so eloquently delivered, and so enthusiastically received that we feel that the public ought to read it.  It follows:

“Mr. Chairman and Friends;

I appreciate the privilege of speaking on request of your chairman, a few words to you on this happy occasion.

Your program has been full and I shall speak but briefly, to those in this presence who can look back fifty years, calling to mind all the helplessness and ignorance of the colored people of the south, this must be an encouraging sight;  a class of young colored people who have passed through the literary school and have also received training in thrift, industry and economy which fits them for useful careers in so many fields of service.  To those here who for thirty years and more have contributed of their time and means and influence to make this character of work possible in the colored schools of the city, this night and this occasion must be indeed a full measure of reward.

Things have changed since G. W. Jackson, a young man just out of college came in Corsicana to take charge of the new school just provided for the colored youths of this city.  During that thirty years he has seen the school grow from a school with three teachers including the young principal until is now has two schools employing two principals and eleven or twelve assistants, I am sure this night as G. W. Jackson reviews his thirty-four years of faithful, efficient service in behalf of his people in this city, as he remembers the more than fifty graduates who have passed through his hands and out into the various fields of labor, twenty-four of them following his own vocation, that of teaching; ten now pursuing their studies in institutions of higher learning;  three as domestic science teachers;  four as carpenters;  one a dentist;  two as physicians;  one as a minister and four as common laborers,  he must feel a sense of satisfaction, and as he sees the evening shadows begin to gather about him I am sure he feels that his labor has not been in vain. In 1905 the domestic science department was organized largely through the efforts of the principal, aided by generous white friends.  In 1907  the manual training department was added.  AS I understand this is now the Booker T. Washington school.  It seems to me highly fitting that this addition to the Fred Douglas school should have been named for Booker T. Washington, whose life and labors were poured out at Tuskegee.

The story of the life of this man Booker T. Washington, is an inspiration to every boy and girl, white or black, who in the distance has a lofty conception and any exalted ideal for life and who is willing to pass through the valleys of the shadow of sacrifice to reach his or her ideals and ambitions.

Born about 1856 a slave in Virginia, moving in early childhood to Maidon, W. Va., where in addition to earning his own living he obtained a little schooling, later he went to Hampton Institute  in Virginia and worked his way through a three-years’ course and spent two years more as a teacher,  in 1881, at about twenty-five years of age he became principal of a little institution at Tuskegee, Ala., founded by the State of Alabama.  Here he remained until the close of his remarkable life in 1915.  He was brought home to the southland to die as was his request—he lies buried at Tuskegee, which he built through years of heroic toll from a school of one teacher, himself, and thirty pupils, until at the time of his death there stood as a part of its equipment 113 buildings , 200 teachers, 1,600 pupils enrolled, and it owned 3,500 acres of land;  165 cows and a thousand head of other live stock;  in addition it owned a magnificent gas, electric and heating plant, and one of the nicest hospitals in all the south.  He is dead, but his spirit and his influence still live—the whole burden and eloquent message of his life was to arouse his eight or ten million brothers and sisters of the colored race to the necessity of the training of hand, head, and heart.

In his address at the opening of the Cotton States and International Exposition at Atlanta, Ga., in 1896, he said, speaking of his race;  one-third of the population of the south is of the negro race.  Any enterprise seeking material, civil and moral welfare of this section can disregard this element of our population and reach the highest section.  Ignorant and inexperienced, it is not strange that in the first years of our new life we began at the top instead of at the bottom;  that a seat in Congress or the State Legislature was more sought than real estate or industrial skill;  starting a dairy farm or truck garden.

And he used this forceful illustration:

A ship lost at sea many days suddenly sighted a friendly vessel. From the mast of the unfortunate vessel was seen a signal:  “ Water, water; we die of thirst.”

The answer from the friendly vessel at once came back:  ‘Cast down your bucket where you are.’  The second time the signal; ‘Water, water; send us water.”  Ran up from the distressed, and was answered;  ‘Cast down your bucket where you are,’  A third and a fourth signal for water was sent; ‘Cast down your bucket where you are.’

The captain of the distressed vessel at last heeding the injunction cast down his bucket and it came up full of fresh, sparkling water from the mouth of the Amazon river.

Applying the illustration to his own race, he said; “To those of my race who depend on bettering their condition in a foreign land or who underestimate the importance of cultivating friendly relations with the southern white men who are their next door neighbors.  I would say;  Cast down your buckets where you are—cast it down in making friends in every manly way of the people of all races by whom we are surrounded.

Cast it down in agriculture, mechanics, in commerce, in domestic service, and in the professions.  Again in the same address he said our greatest danger is that in the great leap from slavery to freedom we may overlook the fact that masses of us are to live by the productions of our hands, and fail to keep in mind that we shall prosper in proportion as we learn to dignify and glorify common labor and put brains and skill into the common occupations of life;  shall prosper in proportion as we learn to draw the line between the superficial and the substantial, the ornamental gewgaws of life and the useful.  No race can prosper until it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem.  It is at the bottom of life we must begin and not at the top.  Nor should we permit our grievances to overshadow our opportunities.

Then turning to the thought of the obligation and the interest of the white fellow of the south, he applied the same illustration to them, and advised us to cast down our buckets among eight million negroes whose habits we know among a people whose fidelity and love in the trouble it is of the war we have tested and proved when their t4reachery would have meant ruin.  He admonished us to lend a helping hand to those who without strikes and labor wars, had tilled the fields, cleared the forests and aided in building railroads and cities and in bringing forth treasures from the bowels of the earth, and he asked us to help in work of education to this people in head and hand, and heart, reminding us that in all things purely social, can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.

This teaching of Booker T. Washington was somewhat resented by the less wise among his race in his philosophy of the dignity and glory of common labor did not appeal to all.  But as his work progressed and he administered at Tuskegee, the value of his teaching slowly began to take hold upon his people, and today, throughout the south industrial departments for manual and domestic training are being added to the colored schools.  So that while Booker T. Washington is dead his work goes on and the work you are doing here and which you exhibited tonight is but a part of the enduring monument being erected to the memory of the work and love and the service of this good and great man and the members of his own race and to the south which he loved so well.”

The following pupils received prizes at the closing of the colored school from the Industrial Department, the business men of the city being the contributors:

Ruby Caldwell, first prize from the J. M. Dyer Dry Goods Co., a silk waist, for the best skilled workman among the girls.

Anna Huckelby, second prize, a pair of silk hose from Jarrell-Elliott’s for second best in hand-work.

The third prize went to Moses Carter, a fountain pen, from the Kerr Jewelry Co., for the best all-round boy in the manual training department.

We thank our friends for their assistance and encouragement in this work and assure them of our sincere appreciation of all that is being done for our improvement.  We are glad to know that our exhibition of industries at the class of our school was a success, and kindly received by the public, both white and black.



The Corsicana Daily Sun  - Wednesday, May 31, 1916  -Submitted by Diane Richards


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