Booker T. Washington

Washington's comments, from 1906, praise the Atlanta Exposition and its Board for taking account of African-Americans, but the real thrust of the speech is the assertion that African-Americans are central, not marginal, to the identity of the South and therefore to the national identity of the United States as a whole. See the writings of William Cowper Brann for a very different view.

Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Board of Directors and Citizens:
One third of the population of the South is of the Negro race. No enterprise seeking the material, civil or moral welfare of this section can disregard this element of our population and reach the highest success. I must convey to you, Mr. President and Directors, the sentiment of the masses of my race when I say that in no way have the value and manuals(?) of the American Negro been more fittingly and generously recognized than by the managers of this magnificent exposition in every stage of its progress.