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EDGAR A. LONG’S “WHAT I CAN DO” POEM I can not be the fountain, whence The rippling waters flow: But I can be the river bed To guide them as they go. I can not be a twinkling star To ‘luminate the night; But I can be a mirror’d lake Reflecting back its light. I can not be a master hand That strikes the notes of praise; But I can be the instrument On which the Master plays. Not unto me the power given To wield the poet’s wand; But I’m content since ‘tis for me To read and understand. The river bed, the mirror’d lake, The instrument, and I, Each has a special work to do As fleeting years go by. Then let me, Lord, my task perform Nor murmer at my fate. “They also serve,” hath well been said, “Who only stand and wait.” Edgar A. Long, “What I Can Do” The Freedman’s Friend III, no7 (1907): 110, Friends Historical Library/Swarthmore College Published in A Vision of Education: Selected Writings of Edgar A. Long 45 THE TIGER & THE TORCH Page | 42

In sharp contrast to Edgar Long’s poetry are the autobiographies of Booker T. Washington. His approach is engaging but very matter-of-fact as he provides a look from the inside out on key events in his life. All in all there were three books: The Story of My Life and Work (1900) 46 , Up from Slavery (1901) 47 , and My Larger Education: Being Chapters From My Experience (1911) 48 . His additional writings are compiled in The Booker T. Washington Papers 49 and span fourteen volumes which exceed 8,000 pages. Yet, the true impact someone has made is not evidenced solely by their own words but also by what others say in their absence. In the introduction to Booker T. Washington’s Own Story of His Life and Work 50 , J.L.M. Curry wrote: “The life of Booker T. Washington cannot be written. Incidents of birth, parentage, schooling, early struggles, later triumphs, may be detailed with accuracy, but the life has been so incorporated, transfused, into such a multitude of other lives,—broadening views, exalting ideals, molding character—that no human being can know its deep and beneficent influence, and no pen can describe it.“Curry also adds, “…his race, through his utterances and labors, has felt an upward tendency, and he himself has been an example of what worth and energy can accomplish and stimulus to everyone of both races, aspiring to a better life…” Words as Art is more than just having things sound good or merely a matter of eloquence or persuasion. Words can bring about freedom & change as well as heal or harm. Using Words as Art is the hallmark of sharing an exceptional story. When it is done correctly, it can bring cohesion to diverse voices. It is through our words that we can effect positive change in our life as well as the lives of others. ROAR! “I N THE E ND, WE WILL REMEMBER NOT THE WORDS OF OUR ENEMIES, BUT THE SILENCE OF OUR FRIENDS.” 51 MARTIN L UTHER K ING, JR. THE TIGER & THE TORCH Page | 43

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