Hope: Booker T. Washington comes to DeKalb


On January 29, 1899 Booker T. Washington came to DeKalb and spoke to a large crowd at the Methodist Episcopal Church.

To provide a little background, the Smithsonian included this overview of Booker T. Washington’s life on their website, “Born a slave on a Virginia farm in 1856, Booker T. Washington taught himself to read after emancipation, worked hard to fund his own education, and eventually attended the Hampton Institute. He became a prominent Black educator and an important voice on race in America during the late 1800s and early 1900s. The Future of the American Negro, written by Washington in 1899, outlines his ideas on the history of enslaved and freed African American people and their need for education to advance themselves. In one chapter, the author discusses the founding of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama in 1881, which he would lead until his death in 1915.” (https://library.si.edu/donate/adopt-a-book/future-american-negro. Accessed 1/25/2023).

Washington’s visit to DeKalb aligns with the publication of his new book, and his visit was included in both the Sycamore and DeKalb newspapers. The Sycamore True Republican reported, “Mr. Washington is the Moses of negro race and is said to be the best negro  orator in the world” (January 21, 1899). While the DeKalb Review had a more in-depth promotion of the event.

Then, the DeKalb Review followed up with a very descriptive summary of his speech.

Washington’s talk was held at the Methodist Episcopal church, which was located at the southeast corner of Fourth and Locust Streets.


After the event, the DeKalb Review printed his thank you note to the community for supporting the Tuskegee Institute. Note some of the prominent names of people in the article.

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