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believe should be for all, the vital issue; I cannot hope to persuade you (if, indeed, you need persuasion) that married life is woman's ideal life. We who are married are like the philosophers who said that those in the dark might think that they were in the light, whereas those in the light knew 5 that they were.
If, then, you will grant me that married life is woman's truth, we may ask, In how far does Radcliffe prepare her for the revelation; in how far does it fail to prepare her?
It prepares her in one way, grandly, in that it makes her 10 the intellectual equal of man. She can think with him, work with him, aspire with him; his thoughts are her thoughts, though spiced and enriched by her own individuality. Intellectually their married life is a union with all the rare intuition of sympathy, the consummate helpfulness and 15 strength which the word union rightly stands for. Do you remember how Socrates longed to die because then he could know the thoughts of the men he admired, could talk with them face to face, soul to soul? It is that sort of knowledge of the thoughts of the man whom she supremely admires that 20 Radcliffe fits its daughter for. It enables a wife to enter into the kingdom of her husband's mind and, by entering in, to possess and to enlarge it.
In Socrates' heaven this would be enough, but for us it is only much. We are alive and life is practical. Does Rad- 25 cliffe fit us for the practical side of married life? her list of courses and you will have the answer. Latin and Greek, Logic and Metaphysic, Anglo-Saxon and Gothic, Trigonometry and Analytic Geometry, and many others of a similar nature. They are all very goodpractical? A married woman has the care of a household, and, as a supreme trust, of children; and what is her preparation? You try to think of a possible relation between what she has learned and what she is now called upon to do, and at last you answer that as a result of her course of study she 35 has a well trained mind, a well formed character. And,
therefore, you would assume that she is prepared to manage a household though she knows nothing of the processes of nutrition, of the chemistry of food, of sanitation? To care for children, though she is as ignorant as her babe of physi5 ology and of hygiene? The assumption is logically preposterous. Its general acceptance passes unchallenged because, forsooth, we are mothers by Divine Right; because the vividness of what our child is in strength, endurance and character obscures the image of what he might have been; 10 because finally our sins of omission and commission have such large results that shrinking we place the burden upon a remote heredity.
Some would make excuse for college women upon the ground that they fail no more critically than other women. 15 We know that we demand the ideal of our college, and it is with that demand only that she herself will be satisfied. Until Radcliffe refuses to sanction the heresy that the home work of a woman is so trivial that under the guidance of ignorant tradition it may be learned by the doing, and 20 accepts as a vital part of her mission the task of dignifying through science its daily routine; until acting upon her acknowledgment that strength of character and of mind are products of the method not of the subject matter of study, she teaches us with the rest that which our life work demands that we know; until, in short, she prepares us for the practical revelation of our married life, she has done but half her duty toward us. She has made us to run swiftly with the one foot, she has left us lame with the other.
But this is not all; she has made us think that we run 30 swiftly with both feet; she has made us even satisfied. And later when the needs come and we fail to meet them, we are only too apt to be dissatisfied with the needs and not with our failure. And then we make the dissatisfied wives and mothers who bring disrepute upon the college life for women 35 in the eyes of the world, who deny before our younger sisters the truth of a woman's life.
Shall we then turn and lay the blame upon our college? The college is what we make it. Its ideals are our demands. If we demand only that it copy the man's college, teaching us what is good for him, nothing more, then we must not complain if the practical side of our woman's life is a failure, 5 or at best successful only through a dearly bought experience, as hard and as costly for those we love as for ourselves.
Is it not then for us, as graduates of Radcliffe, as wives and mothers, as women, to demand that Radcliffe shall be 10 something more than a man's college, that she shall study the needs and purposes of those entrusted to her, ever remembering that man's work never is and never can be woman's work?
BOOKER T. WASHINGTON.
Address at the Dinner of the Harvard Alumni.1
Cambridge, Mass., June 24, 1896.
[Harvard University conferred the degree of A. M. on Mr. Washing- 15 ton at its Commencement, June 24, 1896. At the dinner of the Alumni, which takes place shortly after the completion of the exercises in Sanders Theatre, it is customary to call upon the recipients of the honorary degree to speak.]
MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN: It would in measure relieve my embarrassment if I could, even in a slight degree, feel myself worthy of the great honor which you do me to-day. Why you have called me from the Black
1 Reprinted, by permission, from Up from Slavery, Booker T. Washington. Copyright 1901, by Doubleday, Page & Co,
Belt of the South, from among my humble people, to share in the honors of this occasion, is not for me to explain; and yet it may not be inappropriate for me to suggest that it seems to me that one of the most vital questions that touches 5 our American life, is how to bring the strong, wealthy and learned into helpful touch with the poorest, most ignorant, and humble, and at the same time, make the one appreciate the vitalizing, strengthening influence of the other. How shall we make the mansions on yon Beacon Street feel and Io see the need of the spirits in the lowliest cabin in Alabama cotton fields or Louisiana sugar bottoms? This problem Harvard University is solving, not by bringing itself down, but by bringing the masses up.
If through me, an humble representative, seven millions. 15 of my people in the South might be permitted to send a message to Harvard Harvard that offered up on death's altar young Shaw, and Russell, and Lowell and scores of others, that we might have a free and united country, that message would be, "Tell them that the sacrifice was not in 20 vain. Tell them that by the way of the shop, the field, the skilled hand, habits of thrift and economy, by way of industrial school and college, we are coming. We are crawling up, working up, yea, bursting up. Often through oppression, unjust discrimination and prejudice, but through them 25 all we are coming up, and with proper habits, intelligence and property, there is no power on earth that can permanently stay our progress."
If my life in the past has meant anything in the lifting up of my people and the bringing about of better relations be30 tween your race and mine, I assure you from this day it will mean doubly more. In the economy of God, there is but one standard by which an individual can succeed there is but one for a race. This country demands that every race measure itself by the American standard. By it a race must 35 rise or fall, succeed or fail, and in the last analysis mere sentiment counts for little. During the next half century
and more, my race must continue passing through the severe American crucible. We are to be tested in our patience, our forbearance, our perseverance, our power to endure wrong, to withstand temptations, to economize, to acquire and use skill; our ability to compete, to succeed in 5 commerce, to disregard the superficial for the real, the appearance for the substance, to be great and yet small, learned and yet simple, high and yet the servant of all. This, this is the passport to all that is best in the life of our Republic, and the Negro must possess it, or be debarred.
While we are thus being tested, I beg of you to remember that wherever our life touches yours, we help or hinder. Wherever your life touches ours, you make us stronger or weaker. No member of your race in any part of our country can harm the meanest member of mine, without the 15 proudest and bluest blood in Massachusetts being degraded. When Mississippi commits crime, New England commits crime, and in so much, lowers the standard of your civilization. There is no escape- man drags man down, or man lifts man up.
In working out our destiny, while the main burden and center of activity must be with us, we shall need, in a large measure in the years that are to come, as we have in the past, the help, the encouragement, the guidance that the strong can give the weak. Thus helped, we of both races in 25 the South, soon shall throw off the shackles of racial and sectional prejudice and rise as Harvard University has risen and as we all should rise, above the clouds of ignorance, narrowness and selfishness, into that atmosphere, that pure sunshine, where it will be our highest ambition to serve 30 MAN, our brother, regardless of race or previous condition.