Between 1908 and 1912, Booker T. Washington embarked upon a series of “educational pilgrimages” across several Southern states. In the fall of 1910, Washington and a phalanx of businessmen and A.M.E. Zion clergymen set off on an arc across North Carolina, making speeches and setting examples in Charlotte, Concord, Salisbury, High Point, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Reidsville, Durham, Wilson, Rocky Mount, New Bern, and Wilmington.
On October 21, Wilson’s local newspaper announced Washington’s impending lecture in the auditorium of the colored graded school.
Wilson Daily Times, 21 October 1910.
The response to the announcement of Washington’s tour was positive, but not without fine points made. The Times cited an opinion piece by the Greensboro press, noting approvingly that “foremost living negro” or not, white men should not be put to the task of receiving him into their cities. There were “plenty of public spirited colored people available for that.”
Wilson Daily Times, 1 November 1910.
Along those lines, the Times assured white Wilsonians that “special arrangements” had been made for them as “a great many seem to want to hear” Washington.
Wilson Daily Times, 1 November 1910.
On a practical note, black veterinarian Elijah L. Reid, recently returned from a residency of sorts at Washington’s Tuskegee Institute, seized the occasion to take out a large ad in the paper touting an endorsement by the Wizard himself.
Wilson Daily Times, 1 November 1910.
A commemorative poster and ticket from the event are here. By all accounts, the Wilson stop was a great success. Washington rubbed elbows with Sam Vick and other local heavy-hitters, including all three of the town’s black doctors and several of its most accomplished building tradesmen. The visit happily coincided with the ground-breaking for a new First Baptist church, and Washington laid its cornerstone. The next day, as Washington’s special Pullman car rolled out of town, Raleigh’s News & Observer ran a pleasant piece emphasizing the gaiety of the occasion.
News & Observer (Raleigh NC), 2 November 1910.
In its next publication, the Times — with a gracious nod to “ex Congressman F.A. Woodard” — also commented favorably upon the evening’s events and published excerpts from Washington’s speech.
Wilson Daily Times, 4 November 1910.
The photo below was apparently taken early in the day before the main event. The instantly recognizable Booker T. Washington is seated center, surrounded by his all-star retinue of traveling companions and Wilson’s African-American luminaries. Below the image, more about these men. (Wilson residents, as usual, are in bold text.)
“Education Tour of Dr. Booker T. Washington, Home of Samuel H. Vick, November 1, 1910.”
- Booker Taliaferro Washington (1856-1915), educator and race leader.
- John Henry Merrick (1859-1916), insurance executive. Founder, North Carolina Mutual Insurance Company, Durham NC.
- George Wylie Clinton (1859-1921), A.M.E. Zion bishop. Native of Lancaster County SC. Resided in Salisbury NC. Coordinator of Washington’s North Carolina tour.
- Charles W. Greene (1849-1926), educator. Head of Poultry Division, Tuskegee Institute.
- Robert Baxter McRary (1860-1946), Masonic Grand Master. Native of Lexington NC.
- George W. Powell, insurance executive. Carolina Insurance Company, Durham NC.
- Short William Barnes (1860-1943), carpenter.
- Hardy Tate (1854-1938), brickmason.
- Henry Lawrence McCrorey (1863-1951), educator. President of Biddle University (now Johnson C. Smith University), Charlotte NC.
- James Benson Dudley (1859-1925), educator. Native of Wilmington NC, president of Agricultural & Mechanical College (now N.C. A&T), Greensboro NC, from 1896-1925.
- Silas Abraham Peeler (1864-1948), Methodist minister and educator . President of Bennett College from 1905-1913. Cleveland County NC native.
- Samuel Hynes Vick (1863-1945), educator, postmaster, political and business leader. Born in Nash County, preeminent East Wilson resident.
- Richard W. Thompson (1865-1920), journalist. Thompson News Service.
- Calvin Scott Brown (1859-1936), educator. Native of Salisbury NC. Founder of Chowan Academy in Hertford County NC.
- Nathan Hunt (1873-1933), secretary and stenographer. Assistant to Booker T. Washington.
- James Elmer Dellinger (1862-1920), physician and educator. Native of Lincoln County NC, active in Republican politics and taught chemistry at A&M in Greensboro.
- George Clinton Clement (1871-1935), A.M.E. Zion bishop.
- John T. Sanders (1860-?), attorney and banker. Charlotte NC.
- [Unknown] Winstead. Possibly Braswell R. Winstead (1860-1926), educator and barber.
- William Sidney Pittman Jr. (1875-1958), architect. Booker T. Washington’s son-in-law.
- John Henry Washington (1852-1924). Washington’s half-brother. Business agent and farm manager at Tuskegee Institute.
- James Edward Shepard (1875-1947), educator. Founder of National Religious Training School (now North Carolina Central University).
- Emmett Jay Scott (1873-1957), educator and publicist. Personal assistant and adviser to Washington. Later active in Woodrow Wilson administration and a war correspondent during World War I.
- William Henry Lewis (1868-1949). Harvard Law School graduate. Assistant United States District Attorney for Massachusetts. Appointed Assistant United States Attorney General in 1911.
- William Arthur Mitchner (1882-1941), physician. Native of Johnston County NC, practiced in Wilson.
- Horace D. Slatter (?-1918), journalist. Native of Hopkinsville KY. Publicist for Tuskegee Institute and later newspaper correspondent.
- D.A. Winslow, stenographer. Durham NC.
- George F. King, journalist. Greenville NC.
- Camillus L. Darden (1884-1926), businessman.
- Charles Clinton Spaulding (1874-1952), insurance executive. Manager and later president of North Carolina Mutual Insurance Company.
- John Andrew Kenney (1874-1950), physician. Albemarle County VA native. School physician at Tuskegee, hospital director and chief surgeon.
- Walter Scott Hines (1879-1941), barber and real estate developer.
- Charles Henry Moore (1853-1952), educator and business leader. Wilmington native. Helped establish A&M College. National organizer for National Negro Business League. Regional director for Rosenwald Fund.
- Frank Settle Hargrave (1874-1942), physician. Founder of Wilson Hospital and Tubercular Home and its medical director from 1913 to 1923. President of the National Medical Association, 1914-15. Native of Lexington NC.
- Matthew Stanley Gilliam (1885-1932), physician. Native of Granville County NC, practiced in Wilson.
- Frank Jenkins.
- William Hines (1885-1981), barber and real estate developer.
- Oliver Nestus Freeman (1882-1955), stonemason.
The photo that ran several days later in the New York Age seems to show only the Visiting V.I.P. contingent.
New York Age, 10 November 1910.
For a brief description of Washington’s Wilson visit embedded in a detailed account of his entire North Carolina tour, see David H. Jackson’s Booker T. Washington and the Struggle Against White Supremacy (2008).
Many thanks to Representative G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., who provided the numbered photograph and a key listing the names of the men depicted. That key was the basis of the expanded list above.