"This digital collection illuminates specific moments in the history of Ohio's African-Americans and provides an overview of their experiences during the time period 1850 to 1920 in the words of the people that lived them. The story of the African-American Experience in Ohio 1850-1920 is more diverse and complex than this collection can adequately portray. All we can hope is to provide the researcher with a place to begin. "
On September 18, 1895, African-American spokesman and leader Booker T. Washington spoke before a predominantly white audience at the Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta. His “Atlanta Compromise” address, as it came to be called, was one of the most important and influential speeches in American history. Although the organizers of the exposition worried that “public sentiment was not prepared for such an advanced step,” they decided that inviting a black speaker would impress Northern visitors with the evidence of racial progress in the South. Washington soothed his listeners’ concerns about “uppity” blacks by claiming that his race would content itself with living “by the productions of our hands.”
"Langston Hughes (1902-1967), known for his lyric poetry, often wrote insightful commentaries about African-American culture and race relations in the United States. In this 1941 poem he makes a case for the vindication of educator Booker T. Washington (1856-1915), the former slave and founder of Tuskegee Institute (1881) and the National Negro Business League (1900) who was harshly criticized by many people for emphasizing vocational education as the prerequisite for the political empowerment of black people. In his poem, Hughes stresses the fact that Washington wanted to train the head, the heart, and the hand. He focuses on Washington's practicality and explains the educator's strategy with the statement,"