Officers and Teachers of
The Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute
Who have unselfishly and loyally
stood by and supported me
in my efforts to build
A number of years ago, when the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute was quite small, with only a few dozen students and two or three teachers, I began the practice of giving what were called Sunday Evening Talks to the students and teachers. These addresses were always delivered in a conversational tone and much in the same manner that I would speak to my own children around my fireside. As the institution gradually grew from year to year, friends suggested that these addresses ought to be preserved, and for that reason during the past few years they have been stenographically reported. For the purpose of this book they have been somewhat revised; and I am greatly indebted to my secretary, Mr. Emmett J. Scott, and to Mr. Max Bennett Thrasher, for assisting me in the revision and in putting them into proper shape for publication; and to Mr. T. Thomas Fortune for suggesting that these addresses be published in book form.
In these addresses I have attempted from week to week to speak straight to the hearts of our students and teachers and visitors concerning the problems and questions that confront them in their daily life here in the South. The most encouraging thing in connection with the making of these addresses has been the close attention which the students and teachers and visitors have always paid, and the hearty way in which they have spoken to me of the help that they have received from them.
During the past four years these addresses have been published in the school paper each week. This paper, The Tuskegee Student, has a wide circulation among our graduates and others in the South, so that in talking to our students on Sunday evening I have felt in a degree that I was speaking to a large proportion of the coloured people in the South. If there is anything in these addresses which will be of interest or service to a still wider audience, I shall feel I have been more than repaid for any effort that I have put forth in connection with them.
Booker T. Washington.
There are quite a number of divisions into which life can be divided, but for the purposes of this evening I am going to speak of two; the bright side of life and the dark side.
In thought, in talk, in action, I think you will find that you can separate life into these two divisions — the dark side and the bright side, the discouraging side and the encouraging side. You will find, too, that there are two classes of people, just as there are two divisions of the subject. There is one class that is schooling itself, and constantly training itself, to look upon the dark side of life; and there is another class, made up of people who are, consciously or unconsciously, constantly training themselves to look upon the bright side of life.
Now it is not wise to go too far in either direction. The person who schools himself to see the dark side of life is likely to make a mistake, and the person who schools himself to look only upon the bright side of life, forgetting all else, also is apt to make a mistake.
Notwithstanding this, I think I am right in saying that the persons who accomplish most in this world, those to whom on account of their helpfulness the world looks most for service — those who are most useful in every way — are those who are constantly seeing and appreciating the bright side as well as the dark side of life.