Page:Boys Life of Booker T. Washington.djvu/95

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MAKING SPEECHES

79

Division. The negroes were asked to take part, and they gladly agreed to do so They built one of the best buildings on the grounds. This building was planned by a negro architect and was erected entirely by negro labor. It contained exhibits prepared altogether by negroes. It was one of the most interesting parts of the entire exposition.

When the exposition was formally opened in September, 1895, Booker Washington was invited to make an address as a representative of the negro race. James Creelman, a noted newspaper man, the correspondent of the New York World, heard that speech, and he wrote to the World about it. This is what he wrote:

"Mrs. Thompson, one of the other speakers on the program, had hardly taken her seat, when all eyes were turned on a tall, tawny negro, sitting in the front row of the platform. It was Professor Booker T. Washington, President of the Tuskegee (Alabama) Normal and Industrial Institute, who must rank from this time forth as the foremost man of his race in America. Gilmore's Band played the 'Star-spangled Banner,' and the audience cheered. The tune changed to 'Dixie' and the audience roared with shrill 'hi-yi's.' Again the music changed, this time to 'Yankee Doodle,' and the clamor lessened.

"All this time the eyes of the thousands present looked straight at the negro orator. A strange thing was to happen. A black man was to speak for his people, with none to interrupt him. As Professor Washington strode to the edge of the stage, the low, descending sun shot fiery rays through the windows into his face. A great shout greeted him. He turned his head to avoid the blinding light, and moved about