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LEADERSHIP: FROM A DISTANCE Image Credit: Booker T. Washington’s Own Story of His Life & Work 28 One of Christiansburg Institute’s famous leaders was Booker T. Washington. For about 20 years 29 he served as superintendent of the school. During that time, most of his instructions were followed without him being in Virginia. When he was not traveling throughout the United States and other parts of the world, he wrote and worked from Tuskegee, AL. The Montgomery Museum & Lewis Miller Regional Art Center in Christiansburg, VA, mentions him coming to the town a few times during his administration. 30 One of those trips was for the dedication of the Baily Morris Hall. It was through his leadership that the necessary funds were raised for one of the largest structures built on the CI campus. Another example of Booker T. Washington’s leadership skills in action occurred during a brickmaking experiment at Tuskegee. Those early and seemingly futile efforts ultimately turned into a source of revenue that helped fund other campus projects. The account of, The Original Tuskegee Brick tells the story. The making of a good leader is a similar process. Leadership can be difficult and often requires multiple attempts for success to be achieved. Leaders often have to make personal sacrifices and tough decisions often need to be made but they often prove to be for the common good of many. THE TIGER & THE TORCH Page | 32

THE ORIGINAL TUSKEGEE BRICK” Image Credits: National Park Service Ranger Mitchell, Booker T. Washington National Monument, Hardy, VA 31 The brass plate on the brick reads as follows: “This brick is a living testament to the historical role Tuskegee University played as a bastion of self-help and uplift. The following brief description is taken from Booker T. Washington’s autobiography, “UP FROM SLAVERY”. In the early days of the school, I think my most trying experience was in the matter of brickmaking. We tried several locations before we opened up a pit that furnished brick clay. After a good deal of effort we moulded about twenty-five thousand bricks, and put them into a kiln to be burned. This kiln turned out to be a failure, because it was not properly constructed or properly burned. We began at once, on a second kiln. This, for some reason, also proved a failure. The failure of this kiln made it still more difficult to get the students to take any part in this work. Several of the teachers, however, who had been trained in the industries at Hampton, volunteered their services, and in some way we succeeded in getting a third kiln ready for burning. The burning of a kiln required about a week. Toward the latter part of the week, when it seemed as if we were going to have a good many thousand bricks in a few hours, in the middle of the night the kiln fell. For the third time we had failed. The failure of this last kiln left me without a single dollar with which to make another experiment. Most of the teachers advised the abandoning of the effort to make bricks. In the midst of my troubles I thought of a watch which had come into my possession years before. I took this watch to the city of Montgomery, which was not far distant, and placed it in a pawnshop. I secured cash upon it to the amount of fifteen dollars, with which to renew the brickmaking experiment. I returned to Tuskegee, and with the help of the fifteen dollars, rallied our rather demoralized and discouraged forces and began a fourth attempt to make bricks. This time, I am glad to say, we were successful. Before I got hold of any money, the time limit on my watch had expired, and I have never seen it since; but I have never regretted the loss of it. BOOKER T. WASHINGTON” THE TIGER & THE TORCH Page | 33

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