Character in Real Life - One-Minute Testimonials

DILIGENCE – A One-Minute Testimonial


By Paul Lee Tan
Illustration 2589 from Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations



Booker T. Washington, the founder and head of the famous Tuskegee Institute, who received the honorary degree of LL.D. from Harvard University, was once in slavery.

When as a youth he presented himself at Hampton seeking admission as a student, he was so unpromising that for a time he was in danger of rejection. But he passed a successful examination in the following manner:

After he had been waiting several hours, and other boys had been admitted in preference to him, the head teacher said to him: “The adjoining recitation room needs sweeping. Take a broom and sweep it.”

Now think for a moment how you would respond to such a request in that context. The way that young Booker responded reveals his diligence, an essential character quality that would enable him to win on this day, and throughout his life.

Booker swept the recitation room three times. Then he dusted it four times – all the woodwork around the walls, every bench, table and desk. Besides, he moved every piece of furniture and cleaned carefully every closet and corner in the room. When he was through he reported to the head teacher.

She was a “Yankee” woman, who knew just where to look for dirt. She went into the room and inspected the floor and closets. Then she took her handkerchief and rubbed it on the woodwork about the walls, and over the table and benches. When she was unable to find one bit of dirt on the floor, or a particle of dust on any of the furniture, she quietly remarked, “I guess you will do to enter this institution.”



This material is published by the Faith Committee of the Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Reproduction and Adaptation is encouraged.