Two of my greatest heroes

Published 6:07 pm Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Our state has been blessed with and has produced many people of great character and influence that has extended far beyond our borders, and of that I am always proud.

Yet, in my mind, two men stand out beyond all others. Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver were two very courageous and extremely gifted leaders who were brought together by God to accomplish unbelievable things.

This God-orchestrated union resulted in these unlikely heroes, who were both born as slaves, fulfilling their call to improve their race and our society through developing and promoting leadership and education through Tuskegee Institute (now known as Tuskegee University).

Both men, Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver, though different, were exceptionally gifted leaders.

Washington was a very talented educator, and he took a dream and built it into an institution that educated and prepared black people not only with practical skills that they could use to live and work in the South, but with leadership abilities, which could be used all around the nation. Washington was an excellent fundraiser, a superb communicator and paid great attention to detail and organization. God raised this man up to accomplish a daunting task in starting a successful school for the black race with very little support and with most people expecting and even wanting him to fail.

George Washington Carver was the exact opposite of Washington in many ways. Carver was a scientist instead of an educator, yet he taught with incredible passion, earning the respect and love of his students. Through his choice of focused study and research, especially with the sweet potato and the peanut, Carver discovered hundreds of uses for foods and products that were once thought of as useless.

Their commonality was that each gentleman remained solid in his commitment to Christ, Tuskegee, and desire to aid racial advancement in education, economics, and character and by God’s grace they continued to work together to pursue opportunities for the black race.

They were also convinced that fervent biblical training with a commitment to the Church was necessary in developing and training a younger generation to move forward and overcome the existing obstacles in our country.

I remain personally humbled, challenged, and motivated when I consider these men and their perseverance, their humility, and God-given ability to refuse to live their lives complaining about what was wrong with society.

They, instead, endeavored to humbly change the world by the inspiration that was generated through their lives, vocations, and their faith. These men were constantly faced with a passed-down theory that there was no hope or future for their race or class in areas of education, advancement, or equality.

Their answer was one that is ignored and neglected today. Washington made the following statement regarding this matter: “No greater injury can be done to any person than to let him feel that because he belongs to this or that race or social class that he should be advanced in life regardless of his own merits or efforts.”

Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver counted, not on government or sympathy or entitlement, but on opportunity. They believed that work was good and dignified and they knew that success could only be reached and obstacles could only be overcome if all people, regardless of color or status, sought to pour into society instead of looking to take from society. These two men are two of my greatest heroes.

-Jake McCall is pastor of Grace Fellowship in Clanton.