These Old Hands Can’t Dig up That Rose-bush

Image result for booker t. washington

I was born in the South, a slave, and I love the South. … We are not foreigners nor aliens. You understand us and we understand you…. We went into slavery pagans; we came out of slavery with the Bible and Sunday-school literature in our hands. … Some days ago I was in the city of Richmond, and I heard a story concerning an old black man there. He was living in the same home where his mistress lived during slavery, and she had planted with her own hands a rose-bush in the yard. A new tenant took possession, and the new mistress said to this old colored man, “Dig up that rose-bush.” The old man hesitated, and with a tear in his eye, shook his head and went behind the house. Again the lady came out and said, “Dig up that rose-bush,” and he came up to her, touched his hat and made a polite bow and said, “Miss, I likes you, I want to obey you, but, Missus, you don’t understand; these old hands can’t dig up that rose-bush; that rose-bush was planted fifty years ago by my old Missus, and these hands can’t dig it up; you must excuse me, Missus.” The feeling of sympathy, the feeling of friendship between the black people and the white people in the Southland was planted here years ago by our forefathers. We who are following in their footsteps, black men and white men, must not dig up that old rose-bush. We must nurture it with our tears and with our love and with our sympathy, and as we do it we will have the blessing of Almighty God.

Booker T. Washington, “The Religious Development of the Negro”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s