How To Make Sense of the Pandemic as a Ruist (Confucianist) ?

Confucius Academy

Hallo, my name is Bin Song. I am a Ru scholar, therapist, and college professor in the disciplines of philosophy, religion, and theology. This audio is written and recorded by me to help make sense of the cause of this pandemic in light of the spiritual practice of Ru meditation.

Before you start to listen to my words, I recommend you to do a short breathing practice to calm our heart and illuminate our mind. So, please position yourself well, sit, incline, or simply lie down. Using your belly muscles, be aware of the minor movements of your body, and then, focus upon your breath. Breathe in, deeply, slowly, and comfortably. Breathe out, feel the release, and feel the relax. And a short pause. Again, breathe in, breathe out. remember, no matter how bad the pandemic is, how frustrated you feel about your situation, there is always air and oxygen…

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What Do You Tell People Who Are Scared About the Coronavirus/COVID19 Outbreak? By J.D. Meyer

I will be encouraging. We have many medical professionals working on the Coronavirus/COVID19 crisis throughout the nation and world. The two most visible national officials rising to the occasion are Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), and immunologist, Dr. Anthony Fauci (Director of the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases). In his inspiring Saturday morning address, Gov. Cuomo asserted, “We are all first responders.” We could help or inspire somebody, but we could also get somebody sick or depressed.

For me, sharing health information on Twitter, Facebook, and Word Press would be my main way to inform and inspire. I taught for 20 years—mostly Developmental English/Writing (a college course), English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) to all ages, and an “All Grades/Most Subjects” substitute teacher. I just hit the 39K tweet mark—starting in October 2011.

Several years ago, I was invited to join the local Community Health Workers (CHW) group—the Northeast Texas CHW Coalition, for I’d written some articles about my health issues for the layman. I’ve been on SSDI for COPD for a decade! I have a special interest in magnesium since it has really helped improve my health for the past two years—cholesterol, arthritis, and COPD. CoQ10 was another relatively recent find for me, and it helps heart health.

Furthermore, I can share academic or entertaining information on a broader scale. After all, plenty of students are going to be studying online. Maybe I could publicize my love of Tejano music improving my Spanish to friends’ kids? The other day, I brought a spare Brookshire’s cooking magazine and a brief bio-sketch on Sriracha Hot Sauce by Huy Fong foods to a young mom and her depressed 2nd-grade daughter, who was stuck with her in the kitchen of a nearby service station.

I’m continuing to offer relevant follow-up articles of mine to the Tyler First 2020 Open House leaders. It was a great event just before the Coronavirus shutdown at the Rose Garden city’s convention building with plenty of posters, handouts, and websites. Urban studies have been a hobby of mine for many years—even longer than health.

As for being entertaining, I asked Facebook associates if they would like to share information on interior decorating accomplishments during the shutdown. Besides lots of counter and table dusting and paper sorting and trashing, I rearranged some decorative bar stools. I did receive several responses–including some photos from someone who rearranged some heavy tools in his garage!

Wish us luck in being informative, entertaining, and persuasive.  There’s a new Facebook group called, “Support Our Local Tyler Businesses During COVID-19.” Hopefully, politics will take more of a back seat with me in the near future.




“When Japan Defeated Mongols,” by J.D. Meyer—performed by Mongrel Catharsis, 1988.

This song is British style Heavy metal in the tradition of Iron Maiden.

It was in 1274 and again in 1281

when the Mongols sailed to war upon the shores of Japan.

The Mongols had the greatest empire

in covering all the lands

from Russia to Indonesia and Hungary to Korea.

But this time, the Mongols met their match

in stronger swords, sacred winds, and lacquered armor.


CHORUS: Onward go the samurai.

Grind the Mongols at the coast.

Defend the sacred islands

For Japan we boast.


Smaller boats slashed larger fleets,

And walls of stone met the sea.

Nichiren Buddha said they’d strike.

His mystic words do still some chant:


I do believe

the Sun Goddess still shines upon her chosen land.

For in peace,

she shines like an Eastern Switzerland.

Repeat Chorus and song title until fade.


Footnote: Nam-myoho-renge-kyo = Devotion to the mystic law of cause-and-effect shown in all phenomena. “Nam” is a contraction for “Na-mu” when you chant faster.

BIG 4 Clusters of Commonly Confused Words (CCW)

Commonly confused words, or homonyms, are words that sound alike but have different meanings and spellings.  The Big 4 Clusters of CCWs refer to the four sets of the most commonly misspelled homonyms. These word clusters reached this status because they’re such commonly used words. See, I just used one!

But seriously, let’s classify these words according to their function instead of the more typical, “they’re, their, there, etc.” style. Maybe that will make their spelling easier to rememberAssignment: Write twelve sentences using each of these words in its own sentence.


1. it’s = it is (3rd sing.)

    It’s sunny today.          



2.  they’re = they are (3rd pl.)

     They’re at the brown brick house.

     Walt and Gloria are at the brown brick house.              

3.  you’re = (2nd  ) you are

    You’re a good cook. You’re good cooks.


  • Note that all three of these contractions use “is” or “are” with a subject pronoun.
  • I have used two sentences on #2 to show how a pronoun (they) substitutes for third-person subject nouns.
  • “You’re” is the same word for singular and plural, just as “you” refers to one or more people and can be the subject or object of the sentence.
  •  “You all/y’all” in the South and “You guys” in the North appear to be slang efforts to deal with the lack of two separate words for the second person singular and plural.


4.  its (3rd sing.)

     The house needs its sink fixed.  

It is rare for something without a gender to have or own something.


5.  their (3rd pl.)

      Their house is near the park.

      Ray and Dorothy’s house is near the park.

6. your (2nd)

 I like your





      • Notice that none of these possessive pronouns use apostrophes—unlike a noun(s) functioning as a possessive adjective would require an apostrophe. For example: “Danny’s screwdriver” could be referred to as “his screwdriver” if somebody else was talking about it.
      • The odd reality about #4 “its” is noted in the box.
      • I have used two sentences in #5 to show how a pronoun (their) functioning-as-an-adjective substitutes for third person possessive nouns, which in this case serves as the subject of the sentence.
      • “Your” is the same word for singular and plural.  


  homonym Definition/description Example
7. to preposition before a noun or pronoun meaning “towards” She went to the cafeteria.
8. to When used before a verb; the word becomes an infinitive and can’t function as the main verb of the sentence. I love to sing with Spanish tapes while reading lyrics to improve my listening comprehension and have fun doing it.
9. too also (“tambien” in Spanish) I want some chips and hot sauce too.
10. too Over-doing or under-doing of what is desirable. (“demasiado” in Spanish). We put too much salt in that casserole. Is he considered too small to play linebacker in college?



I don’t have a category for all of these words; here are the two left over from our Big 4 Commonly Confused Sets of Words.


11.  there = refers to direction or location.

      There is a red truck coming down the street.                                                   

12. two = 2.

I kept two kittens from the first litter.             



                        MOST CONFUSING OF THE BIG 4 CCW’S

“It’s” and “its” receive my vote for the most frequently confused pair or set of words in this category; this seems to be a unanimous decision. Even books and website entries may show this error, a lack of editing.

Furthermore, animals that you don’t know are referred to by “its” For example, “The jaguar hurt its paw.”

On the other hand, you should refer to animals that you know personally by their gender—not “it” or “its.” Obviously this applies to house pets, a favorite farm animal, and even more creatures if you’re a zoo employee or in a related profession. For example, “Fluffy is friendly to all visitors. Also, when she lived with a previous owner, Fluffy used to visit a neighborhood-gathering spot frequently and gained much respect for her rat-catching ability.”  EdHelper provides “List of Homonyms” 252 groups of words. You’ll need to provide the meaning for the words.

Emmett J. Scott Bio (1873-1957) by Anthony Neal Emmel

“A native of Houston, Texas, Emmett J. Scott garnered a reputation as Booker T. Washington’s chief aide. He was also the highest ranking African-American in the Woodrow Wilson’s Administration. The son of ex-slaves, Scott was born in 1873. In 1887, he entered Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, eventually leaving school in his third year. Soon he worked at the Houston Post, first as a sexton, and later as a copyboy and journalist. In 1893 Scott, along with Charles N. Love and Jack Tibbit, formed the Texas Freeman, Houston’s first African American newspaper. Scott also worked for Galveston, Texas, politician and labor leader, Norris W. Cuney.

Scott caught the attention of Booker T. Washington, who hired him in 1897. For the next eighteen years, Scott served Washington as a confidant, personal secretary, speech writer, and ghostwriter; in 1912, he became Tuskegee’s treasurer-secretary. Scott advocated Washington’s philosophy of constructive accommodation over immediate social integration. Scott and New York Age editor T. Thomas Fortune helped Washington found the National Negro Business League (NNBL) in 1900.

In 1917, two years after Washington’s death, President Woodrow Wilson appointed Scott special advisor of black affairs to Secretary of War, Newton Baker. Scott wrote reports on conditions facing African- Americans during the period, which were published as “The American Negro in the World War” (1919) and “Negro Migration during the First World War” (1920). From 1919 to 1932, Scott was the business manager and secretary treasurer of Howard University, retiring from the college in 1938. During World War II, Scott worked for the Sun Shipbuilding Company of Chester, Pennsylvania, and helped the company create Yard No. 4 for black laborers. Scott was married and had five children, all of whom graduated from college. He and his wife also raised his five younger sisters, who also earned their degrees. Scott died in Washington, D.C., in 1957 at the age of 84.”

“Skillful Teaching through Facilitating Discussion—Teaching skills is an essential pillar of a competent CHW and CHWI,” a lecture by Dr. Shannon Cox-Kelley, summarized by J.D. Meyer

This was the first lecture at the 2018 Community Health Workers Conference for the NE TX CHW Coalition, July 13, 2018.

The NE TX CHW Coalition Conference featured two main lectures and three breakout sessions. The first main lecture was by Dr. Shannon Cox-Kelley –Dean of Health Science–who teaches in the Community & Public Health degree program at NE TX Community College. She received all of her degrees at Texas A&M at Commerce and is a noted online distance educator.

Dr. Cox-Kelly cited four occasions to use discussion: (1) Evaluate evidence. (2) Formulate application of principles. (3) Foster motivation for further learning. (4) Articulate what has been already learned—theory behind the discussion.

Memory is linked to how deeply we think about something. A research interest cited in Dr. Cox-Kelley’s biography really clicked with me: “the impact of educational attainment on health outcomes in diverse communities.” My disabling condition is COPD, but as a Master’s degree holder and former all-level teacher (mainly Developmental English/Writing: the Pre-College Composition course), I’ve learned to study my conditions. (Yes, I have other health issues). I write Word Press articles on health and make binders full of info on medicine, ER reports, and journal articles.

Returning to Dr. Cox-Kelley, she notes that relationships are key, and we have a need to know why and how information is needed. The CHW Instructor could start with controversy like a “devil’s advocate,” but one should announce it in advance to maintain trust. Uncertainty arouses curiosity; switch sides. Focus on solving problems rather than the solution.

Many students are passive and quiet since we’re taught to memorize in secondary education. An increasingly popular practice is to flip the class and have the lecture at night on You Tube or something like it. Then the classroom becomes a place for total discussion. This flip improved passing rates at Dr. Cox-Kelley’s junior college. Think, don’t memorize.

How to start with questions means to start with desired outcomes. Factual questions increase problem-solving. Application and interpretation questions find connections. Problem questions can induce critical thinking. Comparison questions can evaluate readings.

Dr. Cox-Kelley cites principles behind case studies: (1) Increase focus. (2) Break cases into sub-problems. (3) Socratic questioning, and (4) Lead students toward intended outcomes. Once again, passive students can be a possible barrier, as well as failure for students to see value.

Dr. Cox-Kelley cited Discussions as a Way of Teaching, by S.D. Brookfield and S. Breskill (1999) as a fine relevant book. Students can experience a fear of looking stupid and the inability to consider alternative sides because of emotional attachment. Are they trying to find a correct answer or explore? Helping emotional reactions includes asserting the value of discussion and keeping opinions and verbalization in perspective. To conclude, collaboration is better than competition.

“Skillful Teaching through Facilitating Discussion” lived up to its subtitle of teaching skills being an essential pillar of both the Community Health Worker (CHW) and CHW Instructor (CHWI). Furthermore, Dr. Cox-Kelley’s lecture reached out to teachers looking for a second career or a stimulating cause in retirement.

Final Exam for Developmental English/Writing, by Mr. J.D. Meyer: Spring 2005… Edited by Mentor, Lew Sayers

8 Rules of Subject-Verb Agreement: Circle the correct answer

1. Present Tense Verbs
a. The penguin squawks at the bulldogs.
b. The dogs barks at the penguins.

2. Words/Phrases between Subject and Verb
a. Some students who quit coming to class need to be ignored
and not tracked down by me.
b. That instructor with the Acura and the Mustang have a second job

3. Subject after the Verb
a. There are too many students “chillin” in their rooms.
b. Where is the keys of the reading instructor?

4. Compound Subjects
a. LaTonya and Adelia are on the honor roll.
b. Barnes and Noble have a bookstore in south Tyler.

5. Indefinite Pronouns
a. Everyone were watching the basketball playoffs in the dorm.
b. Almost everyone eats rice daily in China.

6. Agreement with Nearest Subject when Joined by “or.”
a. Either the cats or the dog attack unwanted, rude visitors on my command.
b. Either asphalt shingles or metal is used for roof construction in East Texas.

7. Collective Nouns
a. Our team has a new coach.
b. The squadron have certified airplane mechanics for maintenance.

8. Special Cases
a. Her glasses need adjusting immediately.
b. My black trousers has a tear on the side.

1 Between Items in a Series: Single and Multiple items.
2 Between Compound Sentence
3 After an Intro. Word, Phrase, or Clause
4 Two Commas around Interrupters.
5 To Separate Quotes from a Sentence
6 Before a Non-Essential Phrase
7 To Prevent Confusion

Comma Exercise: Just list the rule used, and each rule is used once. I provided the commas this time.

9. We went to the zoo and saw cheetahs, elephants, and quetzals
10. Joe asked, “Have you finished writing the final yet?”
11. Texas A&M and the Dallas Cowboys, two teams who’ve struggled lately, have new head football coaches
12. She wants to go to the biker club, but he wants to watch interior decorating shows.
13. Where is the cat, Willie?
14. The student is borrowing my stapler, which is purple and very modern-looking
15. After I finish writing this test, I’m going to work on my wonderful website.

Paragraphs: Match the synonyms; write your answer in the middle column. The answer is the letter next to the definition.

16. Unity……………… a. Relevance
17. Support……………. b. Sufficient
18. Coherence……………c. General statement giving the essay’s structure
19. Sentence Skills ……..d. General statement about a paragraph.
20. Topic Sentence……….e. Clear links between ideas
21. Thesis Statement……..f. Grammar

Irregular Verbs: Is the underlined word(s) used correctly? True or False

22. He drank too much Dr. Pepper after payday.
23. I have wrote my essay.
24. Where have the students hidden from me today?
25. He driven to his favorite place in the country.
26. Somebody stolen some tests, so I changed the order of the answers—ha, ha!!!
27. Have you did your essays?
28. They wrote a three-paragraph essay and flunked.

Run-Ons and Fragments: Match the Definition to the Term.

29. Comma splice…………A…….A run-on when only a comma is used …………………………………. instead of end punctuation or a comma …………………………………..and coordinating conjunction
30. Fused Sentence……… B…… A fragment with a subject and verb that ………………………………….is an incomplete thought without an ………………………………….independent clause because it starts ………………………………….with a subordinator.
31. Added Detail Fragment…C……. A run-on in which two or more
…………………………….sentences are stuck together with no
32. -“Ing” or “to” + Fragment… D…A fragment that could have been a
…………………………….non-essential phrase at the end of the
…………………………….sentence, often a “grocery list” of ……………………………………items without a subject or verb.
33. Dependent Word Fragment…. E……A fragment without a main verb.
……………………………..Instead there is just a gerund or …………………………………….infinitive.

Quotation Marks: Circle the right answer.

34. What is my “southwest to northeast” rule of quotation marks?
a. It’s a blatant take-off of a Cary Grant movie.
b. These directions mean that the comma goes after the quotation marks at all times
c. The comma goes in the southwest, and the quotation marks go in the northeast. Or the period goes in the southwest, and the quotation marks go in the northeast.

35. Which is a paraphrased statement?
a. Mother said, “You sure look pretty today.”
b. Mother said that I sure look pretty today.

Which types of words need an apostrophe? True or False. Clue: Three are true.

36. Plural nouns: The cat’s have a bowl.
37. Singular nouns showing possession: The comma chapter thrilled Mr. Mason’s classes.
38. Contractions: It’s very humid today.
39. Singular pronouns that show possession: It’s roof needs to be fixed.
40. 3rd Person Singular Verbs: Ricky run’s pass patterns
41. Plural nouns showing possession: The puppies’ owner wants to give them away.

Writing: Prewriting, Introductions, Thesis Statements, and Conclusions

42. What is something we see in introductions that we don’t see in conclusions?
a. attention-grabber and thesis statement.
b. categories for the essay topic
c. recommendations.

43. What is something we see in conclusions that we don’t see in introductions?
a. attention-grabber and thesis statement
b. categories for the essay topic.
c. recommendations.

44. When is prewriting most important?
a. when you have lots of time for an essay or report.
b. when you are uncertain about your choice of topic or find a topic difficult.
c. if it’s for extra credit.

45. An attention grabber is mainly___________ while a recommendation is chiefly________
a. persuasive…………..entertaining
b. entertaining…………persuasive
c. informative………….entertaining
d. entertaining…………informative

Match the part of speech with the examples
Part of Speech Examples
46. a, an, the…………………… . a adverbial conjunctions
47. at, beside, from, of………………..b articles
48. “FABSONY” like—and, but, so, or…….c subordinators
49. if, until, while, though…………….d prepositions
50. furthermore, however, indeed…………e coordinating conjunctions

Answer Key for Developmental English/Writing Final, by J.D. Meyer

8 Rules of Subject-Verb Agreement
1. a…………………. 5. b
2. a……………………6. b
3. a……………………7. a
4. a……………………8. a

7 Comma Rules
9. 1………………….13. 7
10. 5………………… 14. 6
11. 4………………….15. 3
12. 2

16. a………………..19. f
17. b………………..20. d
18. e ……………….21. c

Irregular Verbs
22. T………………….26. F
23. F………………….27. F
24. T………………….28. T
25. F

Run-Ons & Fragments: Match the Definition to the Term
29. A………………..32. E
30. C………………..33. B
31. D

Quotation Marks
34. c…………………35. b

Which types of words need an apostrophe?
36. F………………….39. F
37. T………………….40. F
38. T………………….41. T

Prewriting, Introductions, Thesis Statements, & Conclusions

42. a…………….. 44. b
43. c…………….. 45. b

Match the part of speech with the examples

46. b…………….. 49. c
47. d…………….. 50. a
48. e

SOL Tuesday: Meet my Developmental English/Writing Textbook, by J.D. Meyer

I taught Developmental English/Writing for ten of my 20 years in teaching. Inspired by my mentor, I started writing my own textbook for the course, and it grew to 350 pages. The chapter sections are Grammar, Introduction to Writing, Descriptive, Persuasive, Compare-and-Contrast, African-American Studies, and Appendix. Introduction to Writing starts with how to write a paragraph before moving on to short narrative and process essays. The goal of the course is to write a good five-paragraph persuasive essay for the exit exam. A fine compare-and-contrast essay can be four-paragraph block style. I added the African-American Studies chapter when I became a full-time instructor at an HBCU. I’d been an adjunct instructor at a predominantly Mexican-American community college. The Appendix contains the expected quizzes and answers, as well as vocational counseling info and Spanish lessons.

My textbook is copyrighted with the Library of Congress and illustrated with Flickr photos. I have published some chapter sections as articles, and you can find them through my website: I felt that giving a way some chapter sections would be a good way to gain publicity. However, now I’m on SSDI, Medicaid, and Medicare, so trying to publish a textbook could be a disaster–big money in August, followed by no medicine for COPD. Meanwhile, Paul Quinn College–an HBCU in SE Oak Cliff (Dallas,TX)–has made a great comeback in part through Open Source textbooks. Dr. Michael Sorrell became president of the declining college and introduced those main policy changes. Open Source textbooks are free materials normally found online, so the cost of college decreased.

Booker T. Washington: Neglected Exemplar of Practical Education

By Mr. J.D. Meyer…Juneteenth 2005/Revised: Juneteenth 2008

First, it’s very doubtful that I would have discovered Booker T. Washington if it wasn’t for primary resources on the Internet. In other words, third-rate historians who pass judgment while withholding evidence from the reader have obscured the real writings of BTW. Thus BTW is “ a figure more often caricatured than understood,” to quote Thomas Sowell et al’s article, “Up from Slavery,” based on Washington’s autobiography with the same name. BTW has been unfairly and illogically labeled as an Uncle Tom for emphasizing vocational education near the turn of the 20th Century. Yet in “The Awakening of the Negro,” Washington stated that if a Black owned the mortgage on a White’s house, then that White couldn’t prevent the Black from voting. In his autobiography, Up From Slavery, Washington admitted, “How often I have wanted to say to white students that they lift themselves up in proportion as they help to lift others, and the more unfortunate the race, and the lower in the scale of civilization, the more does one raise one’s self by giving the assistance.”

Washington’s greatest speech (1895) was praised by many but maligned by some
as the Atlanta Compromise rather than the Atlanta Exposition address. It was the first speech by an African-American before an integrated audience in this country. This was a time when 100 Blacks/year were being lynched. Reconstruction was long over, having only lasted from 1865-1877. Furthermore, a conquering army had imposed Reconstruction.

In his later years, Mr. Washington admitted that if his Atlanta Exposition had been unsuccessful, it could have shattered the cause for Black advancement for years. Instead, the governor of Georgia ran across the room to shake BTW’s hand and offer congratulation. President Grover Cleveland mailed a letter of praise to BTW. The climate around the turn of the 20th Century was so tense that President Theodore Roosevelt was criticized for having lunch with Mr. Washington. It was even the topic of cruel newspaper cartoons.

This presentation will examine the Atlanta Exposition Address, a talk that is a
component of Washington’s autobiography, Up From Slavery. Then we’ll have an
overview of “The Awakening of the Negro.” Our first reading is from “Black Race, Red Race,” reflections on Washington’s early career as the dorm supervisor of Native Americans at his alma mater, Hampton College. We will end with the article that significantly shaped my views on African-American history, “Keeping the Spotlight on Failure,” by the late Elizabeth Wright, and a chilling indictment of how many teach Black history to be little more than slavery, freedom, civil rights movement, and integration. There were plenty of great economic and institutional success stories individual and group, before the civil right movement and desegregation. Philosophical heirs to Booker T. Washington can be found at websites like and

Excerpt from “Black Race and Red Race”—BTW
Six years after graduating from Hampton Institute, General Armstrong, the
President of Hampton, invited Booker T. Washington to be the dorm director for a
group of Native American males. Hampton is still one of the leading HBCU’s
“There was a general feeling that the attempt to educate and civilize the red men at Hampton would be a failure. All this makes me proceed very cautiously, for I felt the keen responsibility. But I was determined to succeed. It was not long before I had the complete confidence of the Indians, and not only this, but I think I am safe in saying that I had their love and respect. I found that they were about like any other human beings; that they responded to kind treatment and resented ill treatment. They were continually planning to do something that would add to my happiness and comfort. The things that they disliked most, I think, were to have their long hair cut, to give up wearing their blankets, and to cease smoking; but no white American ever thinks that any other race is wholly civilized until he wears the white man’s clothes, eats the white man’s food, speaks the white man’s language, and professes the white man’s religion.”

The Atlanta Exposition Address
Why did BTW feel that vocational education was so important? First, because the
Talented Tenth that WEB DuBois wanted to nurture was just that—the 10% of any
population that can become doctors, lawyers, and the like. BTW chose to reach the black masses. As the first president of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, Washington seized the opportunity to do just that. The practical education movement at Tuskegee was paralleled at white colleges like my alma mater, Texas A&M University, because of the Morrill Act of 1862. This act provided for state funding for universities in each state to specialize in the sciences of agriculture, engineering, and more.
Thus, there is nothing demeaning in not gambling on replacing one’s archeology professor. For as, Booker T. Washington contended in Atlanta at the Exposition Address, “No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem.”BTW opened the Atlanta Exposition Address by stating that the event was the greatest thing to happen between the races in the thirty years since the end of slavery. Then he admitted that the awkwardness of Reconstruction. The newly freed slaves began at the top instead of the bottom and blacks sought a political position rather than “real estate or industrial skills” or “starting a dairy farm or truck garden.”

On the other hand, subsequent research revealed to me that at least some to those African-Americans who ascended to political power truly were competent—like Matthew Gaines of Brenham, Texas. Mr. Gaines was instrumental in the founding of Texas A&M to the extent that a movement led by Aggie Republicans like my former philosophy professor, Richard Stadelmann, wanted to have a statue of Gaines erected on the campus.

Washington’s bold call to both races was “Cast your buckets down where you
are.” At that time, it meant for blacks not to give up on America and sail back to Africa. For whites, it meant not to expect foreign immigrants to be the answer to economic expansion because of the loyalty shown by African-Americans over the centuries. Suggesting anything to whites back then was quite bold. Yet perhaps the latter was one of Washington’s most peculiar contentions as there had been brutal slave uprisings, sometimes with white abolitionist assistance, as noted in WEB DuBois’s critiques of BTW. Perhaps Mr. Washington was hinting that black uprisings could have been a lot more frequent or worse in an off-hand (even clever passive aggressive) way.

Let’s jump back to the Back to Africa movement. It was extremely influential at
the turn of the century until 1920. Marcus Garvey was its most famous proponent and the leader of the largest black movement in history. Martin Delany, the first African-American field officer and a medical doctor, was another key figure. However, Delany changed his mind about the Back to Africa movement and leaned toward South America before his change as well. Dr. Delany has the peculiar distinction of almost being lynched by a white mob in a Northern border state before the Civil War; then he was almost lynched by an angry black mob because he supported an ex-Confederate officer who supported vocational education for African-Americans.
One of the most surprising aspects of this twisted by emotion era in American history for me is that some of the finest men fighting for black rights were the slave masters’ sons, as opposed to uneducated white competing for jobs open to ex-slaves apart from the BTW or DuBois game plan. Always looking at both sides of any issue, Washington admonished blacks not to sink into resentment over the atrocities of slavery because that would bog down progress.

Thus, the central theme of the Atlanta Exposition Address was that “there is no defense or security for any of us except in the development of the highest intelligence of all.” He waved aside already lost causes for his generation such as racial integration offering his example of as being “separate like fingers yet one in the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.” He never renounced equal rights under the law but noted, “The ability to earn a dollar in a factory was more important than the right to spend it at an opera house.” BTW observed that as one-third of the population of the South, blacks could be a force for progress or stagnation, depending on whether blacks took the opportunities that were given, or had opportunities denied them, or simply blundered away chances. Thus,
BTW was able to link the fate of both races by connecting rights and responsibilities.

So how different were Washington and DuBois? Less than what it is popularly
assumed today, and at one time, they were close allies. DuBois did view the Atlanta Exposition as something of a sell-out. DuBois proved to be right in noting that without political rights, African-Americans could not protect what they had earned. Yet DuBois failed to see that part of Washington’s program of vocational education proved to be the beginning of the modern science of agriculture. Building construction was another area of training in all phases from bricklaying to carpentry to architecture.
After Washington’s death, it was discovered that he secretly donated to civil rights causes. Ultimately, Washington praised whites of good will while DuBois verbally attacked whites of ill will. Washington received substantial financial contributions for Tuskegee Institute as its president. DuBois lived to be 95 (1868-1963) while Washington didn’t make it to 60 (1858-1915). Admittedly, the savagery of white backlash over black success and BTW’s relentless speaking and work schedule may have driven him to an early grave. On the other hand, poor DuBois was subjected to an FBI investigation for his socialist leanings, and he moved to Ghana to spend the last years of his life with Kwame Nkrumah, its first president and a Pan-African giant.

Yet DuBois shared the fears of Washington that if whites lost their prejudices
overnight, much of the ignorant masses of blacks would stay down through using
prejudice as an excuse or drift into “indifferent listlessness or reckless bravado.” In short, you could not imagine a more effective early leader for African-Americans than BTW. His ability to point toward quiet economic success as a prerequisite for the achievements of later generations was essential and tragically unappreciated. There wouldn’t have been a Civil Rights’ Movement if some African-Americans hadn’t risen to middle-class stature. Likewise, my new T-shirt says Martin Luther King’s dream is being realized in Barack Obama’s message of change.

The Awakening of the Negro
Washington’s vision of practical education included witnessing the opposite. Once he saw a young man studying French grammar in a run-down shack, and another time, BTW saw a young lady playing a rented piano in a run-down shack. Washington responded to the objections that would surface later anyway: a young black has the right to study French or the piano. But in those troubled poverty-stricken days right after slavery, a more practical alternative was needed. Washington earned his degree at Hampton College—a model for Tuskegee. Washington was “surrounded by an atmosphere of business, Christian influence, and a spirit of self-help that seemed to have awakened every faculty in me, and cause me for the first time to realize what it meant to be a man instead of a piece of property.”

Washington saw the cardinal needs for African American as, “food, clothing,
shelter, education, proper habits, and a settlement of race relations,” a list that reminds me of the basic needs according to Abraham Maslow. Furthermore, Washington believed that training of strong young people in the “head, hand, and heart” would lift up the race from within better than missionary efforts launched from afar. By learning industrial or hand training, the young African-American could move up from their status at that time. Three other factors stood out: (1) the student could pay for some of his tuition; (2) the school called for a job that required skill; (3) the industrial system teaches “economy, thrift, the dignity of labor” and gives “moral backbone” to students. Such a student gains a “certain confidence and moral independence” when he is “conscious of his power to build a house or wagon or to make a harness.”

It is easy to update these practical suggestions for our century. Obviously,
residential and business construction are still leading fields, and the automobile or truck has replaced the wagon and the harness for the horse. But we need to add computer skills to our list of confidence-imparting practical skills. I am one of many who have the power to search the Internet, type rapidly and save the information on a computer or on a disc, insert tables, dabble with contrasting fonts, and make a Power Point. I could get off-task and ramble indefinitely about the new practical professions that exist today but were not present at the time of BTW.
Mr. Washington’s vision of industrial education was “how to put brains into every process of labor… (Therefore) much of the toil is eliminated and labor is dignified.” Tuskegee had a staggering total of 650 acres of land for agriculture: cattle and vegetables. At this time, 85% of African-Americans in the South worked in agriculture. Furthermore, Tuskegee graduates taught rural blacks how to save money, get out of debt, and buy their own house. Keeping isolated schools open more often was another typical goal. Older adults organized local clubs or conferences, and the Tuskegee Negro Conference was held every February, bringing 800 people together from all over the Black Belt. Besides the Tuskegee Negro Conference for the masses, BTW started a simultaneous gathering called The Workers’ Conference. The Workers’ Conference brought together instructors and administrators from the leading black schools of the South. By having these conferences at the same time, the laborers and educators were able to learn from each other.

What was the strategy behind Washington’s focus on industrial education? It was
to improve race relations through empowering blacks to produces something the white “wants or respects in the commercial world.” Furthermore, the white would become partly dependent on the black and less able to deny his political rights.
One of the greatest evils of the slave system is that it warped the work ethic. The white master did not work but was the ideal—the idle rich. Another evil was that slavery discouraged labor-saving machinery. Blacks worked but under protest. All of these strange quirks led to the Southern habit of putting off repairs until tomorrow. Thus the Tuskegee influence bettered all society—not just black. The South evolved from exporting its cash crop—cotton—in exchange for food supplies, to a society with diversified agriculture.

Keeping the Spotlight on Failure
Elizabeth Wright refutes the notion that blacks achieved little before integration in this fine article. The result of conditioning blacks into such thinking leads them to having a negative opinion of black businessmen and institutions while accepting the guidance of the elite without question. The perpetrators of this view are the black elite and white liberals. She cites no less than nine successful African-American entrepreneurs who lived between 1840—1930; some even lived before the Civil War.

Wright notes that during Booker T. Washington’s heyday, blacks had a better spirit of entrepreneurship, optimism, and pragmatism. It was accepted that economic change would precede changes in the laws. Getting bogged down theory or dwelling on victimization would divert one from making money. Furthermore, the Tuskegee Movement provided moral encouragement as well as technical assistance. Frequently, Washington and his colleagues would go into the rural areas and show poor blacks how to get out of debt, save their money, keep grade schools open more often, and become homeowners.

After the end of BTW’s influence, progress was no longer due to the individual’s effort and enterprise but the result of a group of civil rights leaders. The title that Ms. Wright chose for this article was actually borrowed from Mr. Washington himself. He noted that there were already black leaders in his time that wanted to remind their followers of sad stuff to keep them loyal but depressed and good whites feeling guilty. Nevertheless, I’d like to interject that it’s essential to examine each view in order to have a balanced view of African-American social/intellectual history. Without legal protection, successful black communities like Tulsa suffered wholesale destruction with no recourse, and lynchings got worse when African-Americans became more successful in the first two decades of the Twentieth Century. Ironically, the Tuskegee machine was far from democratic and often crushed opposition from other black scholars.

Overall, I still endorse Ms. Wright’s view of African-American history with its
endorsement of Booker T. Washington as the more valid model. For example, the GI bill enabled many black World War II veterans to go to college, become more successful economically, and influence legal change. Perhaps the current young hustlers carry on some of that BTW style attitude concerning the importance of “make money first”; however, there’s all too often a spirit of Machiavellianism and a frequent idolization of gangsters. Obviously, black-on-black crime has never been worse, especially violent crime. John McWhorter observes a counterproductive anti-intellectual spirit in today’s youth also. Washington endorsed putting scientific skill into trades like agriculture, and he never negated that a “talented tenth” would go into professions like medicine and the law. But BTW did note that it’s more important to be able to make a dollar than spend it
in the theater of your choice.

Let’s look at some of those entrepreneurs cited in Ms. Wright’s article. First, she mentions Martin Delany (1812-1885) of West Virginia, hailed as the “Malcolm X of the 19th Century.” I mentioned a bit of history earlier in this essay. Dr. Delany was the first black field officer and medical doctor. He also was a book and magazine author who wrote non-fiction and fiction. Dr. Delany wrote for Frederick Douglass’s journal, the North Star. Charles and Ana Spaulding founded the Mutual Life Insurance Company of Durham, North Carolina at the turn of the 20th Century, and the company still exists today. William Powell was an ex-slave who opened a repair shop and invented or improved tools. George Downing owned a hotel in Rhode Island and was a caterer before the Civil War. Robert Reed Church was a Memphis businessman who built a park for summer festivities, graduations, and held Thanksgiving dinners for the poor.

To conclude my summary/analysis of “Keeping the Spotlight on Failure,” we
need an inclusive attitude toward information on history, especially something as twisted by dogmatic paradigms as African-American history. I certainly didn’t want to read depressing Black History essays, and I received tons of them until I wrote a guide to writing a Black History essay for my class. It was their one chance to do an essay on this topic, so be happy. Undoubtedly, Ms. Wright could have predicted that young blacks would generally focus on the dreariest aspects of their history unless urged not to do so.

To conclude this talk, I hope you have a better understanding of Booker T.
Washington’s achievements in the cause of African-American advancement and the business-oriented movement that not only succeeded him but preceded him too. It is too easy to judge somebody in the distant past by today’s standards. Maybe history can teach us to develop empathy and understand cause-and-effect. Furthermore, it is a victory for an entire country when any disadvantaged group can improve their status, not just the disadvantaged group.