National Booker T. Washington Symposium Begins Sunday

Published June 2, 2006

(Chicago, IL — June 2, 2006) On Sunday, June 4, The New Coalition for Economic and Social Change and The Heartland Institute kick off a two-and-a-half-day symposium on the life and legacy of Booker T. Washington. The event, honoring Washington’s 150th birthday, includes a series of meal events beginning on Sunday, June 4 and six panel discussions open to the public beginning on Monday, June 5.

Some notable participants in the symposium are: Dr. Peter Ascoli, grandson of Julius Rosenwald, a key financial supporter of Washington’s work; Dr. Margaret Washington Clifford, the oldest living direct descendent of Booker T. Washington; Dr. Glenn C. Loury of Brown University; Steve Mariotti, founder and president of the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship; and Dr. William (Bill) Winston, graduate of Tuskegee Institute and pastor of Living Word Christian Center in Forest Park.

In all there will be 22 distinguished speakers speaking at seven meals and taking part in six panel discussions at venues designed to show off Chicago’s best social and cultural assets.

“It’s time for a change in the black community,” said Lee Walker, president of The New Coalition for Economic and Social Change. “For too long we’ve been focused on assigning blame while our community decays from the inside out.” Walker believes, as Washington did, that African Americans must take their future into their own hands by embracing a new set of values.

“Until we have a vibrant economic culture in the inner cities, there will be no change,” Walker continued, “and a vibrant economic culture starts with education, self-reliance, and personal responsibility.”

“We are thrilled to be part of this symposium,” said Joseph Bast, president of The Heartland Institute. “Booker T. Washington’s life and legacy connect the black experience with the American moral and intellectual traditions of individualism, self-reliance, prudence, and hard work. These traditions aren’t out of date, nor are they the property of any one ideology or political party. They are at the very center of a set of public policies that could generate a social and economic rebirth of the black community.”

Sponsors of the event include ExxonMobil Corporation, Herbert Walberg, The Bodman Foundation, In the Classroom Media, McCormick Tribune Foundation, BellSouth, and nearly two dozen individuals, foundations, and corporations.

One of the symposium participants, Professor Carol Swain of Vanderbilt University, noted, “we would have fewer problems in black communities if more people knew about and internalized the ideals and values of Booker T. Washington.” If he were here today, Swain said, he would “urge people to cast down their bucket where they are [and] black leaders to take responsible positions on immigration reform and extension of section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, instead of the self-serving positions most embrace.”

On May 20, in a commentary published by the Chicago Sun-Times, Professor Mark Bauerlein of Emory University, another scholar participating in the symposium, quoted Washington as saying, “The great human law that in the end recognizes and rewards merit is everlasting and universal.” Bauerlein himself observed, “the United States is closer to abiding by that law than ever before … [and] we should pass along that faith to those who most need it.”

For a complete schedule of events and registration information, go to Highlights include:

Sunday, June 4

4:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Registration and Opening Banquet Dinner
Chicago Athletic Club
12 South Michigan Avenue
Keynotes: Anne Wortham, Ph.D. associate professor, Illinois State University, and graduate of Tuskegee University, and Glenn Loury, Ph.D., professor of social sciences, Brown University

Monday, June 5

12:30 – 2:00 p.m.
Lunch at the Union League Club
65 West Jackson
Keynote: Steve Mariotti, president, National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship

6:00 – 9:30 p.m.
Dinner at the DuSable Museum of African American History
Keynotes: Rev. Hycel Taylor, Ph.D., former senior pastor of Second Baptist Church, and Rev. Ishmael Muhammad, Nation of Islam

Tuesday, June 6

12:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Lunch and Summary Remarks at the Metropolitan Club
233 South Wacker Drive (Sears Tower)
Keynote: William B. Allen, Ph.D., professor of political science, Michigan State University, with introductory remarks by Daryl Scott, Ph.D., professor of history, Howard University

6:00 – 10:00 p.m.
Dinner Cruise on Lake Michigan aboard The Spirit of Chicago
Brief concluding remarks by hosts and special guests and presentation of Booker T. Washington Legacy Prizes.

All meals are by reservation only. To purchase tickets, call 312/377-4000 or visit

Panel discussions are free and open to the public, and take place at the Arthur Rubloff Building, 375 East Chicago Avenue. The schedule is as follows:

Monday, June 5

Panel 1: Booker T. Washington: The Man and the Legacy
8:30 – 10:30 a.m.

Panel 2: Black Entrepreneurship and Economic Development
10:30 – 12:00 noon

Panel 3: Closing the Academic Achievement Gap
2:30 – 4:00 p.m

Panel 4: Blacks in the Media: Role Models, News, and Shaping Public Opinion
4:00 – 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday, June 6

Panel 5: Left, Right & Black: Where to Go in the Political Arena?
8:30 – 10:30 a.m.

Panel 6: Self-Reliance and the Role of Government
10:30 – 12:00 noon

For more information, please contact Mike Van Winkle or Ralph Conner at 312/377-4000 or by email at [email protected] or [email protected].