June 24, 1896 – Booker T. Washington became the first African American to receive an honorary MA degree from Howard University.
Harvard Staff Photographer
For example, on June 24, 1896, educator Booker T. Washington became the first African American to receive an honorary degree from Harvard University.
That evening, during an alumni dinner, Washington said: “In working out our destiny, while the main burden and center of activity must be with us, we shall need, in a large measure in the years that are to come, as we have in the past, the help, the encouragement, the guidance that the strong can give the weak. Thus helped, we of both races in the South soon shall throw off the shackles of racial and sectional prejudice and rise, as Harvard University has risen and as we all should rise, above the clouds of ignorance, narrowness and selfishness, into that atmosphere, that pure sunshine, where it will be our highest ambition to serve MAN, our brother, regardless of race or previous condition.”
Speech cited from Booker T. Washington’s Address at the Alumni Dinner of Harvard University.
As you may be aware, the history of Freemasons includes elements that are actual, and others that are “traditional.” The actual history is mainly found after the emergence of Freemasons’ lodges from secrecy on 24 June 1717 in London.
Before that time little was known for certain but many colorful stories were told about how Freemasons must have included most of the important men in history — even Adam in the Garden of Eden. These are called “traditional” history to distinguish them from actual history. Yet they are still an important part of Freemasons’ heritage, and sometimes they contain stories that tell life lessons. The lessons are true, even if the stories are somewhat imagined.
Our goal here is to bring together more of the actual history of Freemasonry — even reaching back before 1717 — so that the practices, rituals, symbols and principles of Freemasonry can be better known and used today.
The same rules of critical analysis which are pursued in the separation of what is true from what is false in the history of a nation should be applied to the determination of the character of all statements in Masonic history. This course, however, has, unhappily, not been generally pursued. Many of its legends are unquestionably founded, as I shall endeavor hereafter to show, on a historical basis; but quite as many, if not more, are made up out of a mixture of truth and fiction, the distinctive boundaries of which it is difficult to define; while a still greater number are altogether mythical, with no appreciable element of truth in their composition. And yet, for nearly two centuries, all of these three classes of Masonic legendary lore have been accepted by the great body of the Fraternity, without any discrimination, as faithful narratives of undoubted truthfulness.
–Albert Gallatin Mackey
The History of Freemasonry