"CAST DOWN YOUR BUCKET..." (EDUCATION.) WASHINGTON, BOOKER T. Autograph Notes for his Emancipation Day Address, January 1, 1895. Four pages of pencil notes written on pieces of paper of irregular size, written on the scraps of official Tuskegee lined stationary, and headed in Washington's hand "Emancipation Address, Montgomery Ala." And dated Jan. 1, 1895." Tuskegee, circa December 31-January 1, 1895
contains the famous phrase "cast down your bucket" which would he would later incorporate into his historic atlanta compromise speech. Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) was a facile improvisational speaker who rarely if ever wrote out his speeches in their entirety. Instead, he relied on a series of key words, or phrases from which he could spin whole paragraphs. For example, this speech is headed by the following phrases on two separate lines: "Two flags, Ahead of all Negroes. In and out of slavery. Ignorance costs more than ed. Intelligence rules (Indians)," and so forth. This particular speech however was an important precursor to Washington's landmark Atlanta Compromise" speech. On page four of these notes, there appears the phrase "Cast down your bucket." Nine months later, these four words would become the essence of one of the most important speeches ever delivered by an African American; four words that virtually defined Booker T. Washington's philosophy. He related an anecdote about "A ship, lost at sea for 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.' A second time the 'signal water, water; send us water' ran up from the distressed vessel, and was answered 'Cast down your bucket where you are.' And a third and fourth signal for water was answered, '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. To those of my race who depend on bettering their condition in a foreign land, or who underestimate the importance of cultivating relations with the Southern white man, who is their next door neighbor, I would say: 'Cast down your bucket where you are.'" He went on, urging the mainly white audience to try and do the same. Despite some occasionally expressed resentment about Washington's perceived role as an accomodationist, his contribution to the advancement of the race is undeniable. Given the times, and the extraordinary opposition to the advancement of people of color, Booker T. Washington amassed a record of accomplishment unmatched in his lifetime.
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