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Radio Address on the 50th Anniversary of the Founding of Tuskegee Institute.

April 14, 1931

I CONSIDER IT a great privilege to take even a small part in this celebration of the 50th anniversary of Tuskegee Institute. Established half a century ago by Booker T. Washington through initial aid from the State of Alabama, it has grown into a great national educational institution devoted to the development of the Negro race and maintaining at all times a leadership in its advancement.

It is now over 60 years since the Negro was released from slavery and given the status of a citizen in our country whose wealth and general prosperity his labor has helped create. The progress of the race within this period has surpassed the most sanguine hopes of the most ardent advocates. No group of people in history ever started from a more complete economic and cultural destitution. The 50th anniversary of the founding of Tuskegee marks at the same time almost the semicentennial of Negro progress. Within that period the race has multiplied its wealth more than 130 times, has reduced its illiteracy from 95 percent to 20 percent, and reduced its death rate by one-half. It has risen to the ownership of more than 750,000 homes, has accumulated property to the value of billions, has developed a far-reaching internal network of social, religious, and economic organizations for the continued advancement of its people, has produced leadership in all walks of life that for faith, courage, devotion, and patriotic loyalty ranks with all the other groups in our country.

The greatest single factor in the progress of the Negro race has been the schools, private and public, established and conducted by high minded, self-sacrificing men and women of both races and all sections of our country, maintained by the States and by private philanthropy, covering the whole field of education from primary school through to college and university. These public and private schools, particularly under the leadership of Tuskegee and other universities and colleges, have been the most effective agents in solving the problems created by the admission to citizenship of 4 million ex-slaves without preparation for their new responsibilities. That such a revolution in the social order did not produce a more serious upheaval in our national existence has been due to the constructive influence exerted by these educational institutions whose maintenance of further development is both a public and a private duty.

The Nation owes a debt of gratitude to the wisdom and constructive vision of Booker T. Washington, the founder of Tuskegee. His conception of education based fundamentally upon vocational and moral training has been worthily continued by his able successor, Dr. R. R. Moton, who likewise deserves the gratitude of the Nation for his many contributions to the solution of one of our most difficult national problems. His ability and sanity and modesty have been powerful forces in progress and good will.

We have still many problems to solve in this matter and no section of our country is without its responsibility or without room for progress and improvement. I am convinced that there are within the Negro race, as the result of these institutions, of which Tuskegee stands in the first rank, a body of men whose leadership and unselfishness can be depended upon to accomplish advancement and adjustment.

A notable example of the proper spirit of approach in sane handling of these problems is that developed in our Southern States by the Interracial Commission. This movement developed in the area where problems of interracial adjustment are presented on a large scale, has been represented in its leadership and direction by the best element of both races working in effective cooperation for the good of each and rendering valuable service to the whole country. Tuskegee Institute has greatly contributed to this movement. There can be no solution either in the communities or government that is not based upon sympathetic understanding and absolute justice.

Tuskegee has thus made a notable contribution not only to the day-to-day training of the members of its race for their part in the life of the Nation, but its leaders have made a higher contribution to the adjustment of interracial problems which must awaken the gratitude of the Nation.

Note: The President spoke at 5:50 p.m. from the White House. The address was carried over the National Broadcasting Company and Columbia Broadcasting System radio networks.
Dr. Robert R. Moton was president of Tuskegee Institute.

A reading copy of this item with holograph changes by the President is available for examination at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library.

Herbert Hoover, Radio Address on the 50th Anniversary of the Founding of Tuskegee Institute. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/212180

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