(Original Poem by Ada Tessibel Peters.)
In the year 1858
On a Virginian Plantation
Was born a babe who someday
Would walk and talk with nations
In his veins flowed the blood
Of Ethiopia's Noble Hearted Sons
Born 'midst slavery's mire and mud
A great leader of men had come.
In a rough hewn board hut
Booker saw the light of day
Blessed with a kind mother's trust
In her arms he fondly lay
His childish eyes did not gaze
Upon fine paintings on the wall
But watched little pickanninies play
While water in the kettle boiled.
The child of Nature boasted not
Of proud ancestory or titled kin
For bondage had fallen his lot
And four million of his fellow men
Deep in the heart of that boy
A spark of independence burned
Early losing the thrill for toys
Longing for a chance to learn.
Just before the dawn of day
When the world's lost in dream
The lad heard his mother pray
And there the truth was gleamed
From then was waged a battle
From then his life work begun
To enlighten the Human chattels
When 'ere the hour should come.
At last God heard the pleas
Of the four million humble souls
And suffered them to be free
To serve their God of old.
With the North and South's decision
The slave child's hope was realized
Going forth to prepare his mission
He bade his lowly habitat Goodbye.
Toiling through sunshine and rain
Working patiently in the salt mills,
Took unto himself a name
The proudest that history could give.
An unseen eye, saw a day
Drawing near; when the world's readers
Beholding his works would say
"He too, is Father of His People."
As in the days of old
Brave Romans with armors of steel
Met in the arena their foe
Either to kill, or be killed.
So with his schooling completed
Booker Washington, now went forth
To conquer or to be defeated
True to his boyhood oath.
His helmet the Word of God,
Freely given to those that ask
His sword a heart of love
And Divine truth, his only mask.
Thus clad in this court of mail
That protects the souls of men
On life's stormy sea set sail
To battle against fog and wind.
Ever in the quest of Knowledge
Took up the study of law
Entered the famous Hampton Institute
Preparing to stand in Congress Hall.
But providence had a Nobler Cause,
For this young man to pursue
Throwing down the books of law
Sought his works in fields anew.
It was then Tuskeege called him
At last had come the Morn,
To teach and defend his fellowmen
For which work he was born.
His soul urged him to go
He was filled with new zeal
Determined his Brothers should know
What it means, To Be Free.
Ever Onward, to reach higher ground
Helping 'all People to greater aim
The world in admiration now found
Dr. Washington, rightly chose, name.
Instructing the Negroes to buy land
To study the advantage of soil
Proving his theory with his hands
Showing the profit of honest toil.
In the pleas for his race
A great Orator, was made known
Sought not for a political place
Ever striving to help his own
Respected in courts of fame
Daily honored by rich and poor,
Popularity never made him vain
But was loved as, "Booker," of old.
Then God called his servant home
Called the Great Educator to rest
Leaving his friends to fight alone
To live forever with the Blest,
A lasting monument is left
In hearts of young and feeble
And though parted by death
He still is, Father of His People.
Published in Peters Sisters, War Poems, 1919