The Wright Award
Who have Kept the Spirit of Booker T. Washington Alive
The Wright Award, established by the Society in 2006, and its most prestigious annual award, is named for its first recipient, Elizabeth D. Wright.
It honors those individuals who have kept the vision, virtues and values of Dr. Booker T. Washington alive... especially when when it was 'unfashionable' to do so.
2006 - Elizabeth D. Wright (1937 - 2011)
Ms. Wright, an extraordinary writer, toiled for decades "in the trenches" in spirited, loud defense of the vision and values espoused by Dr. Washington. In 1985, she created and published a newsletter, Issues & Views, a time when many of her neighbors and peers had dismissed Dr. Washington as "a sell out".... and worse.
Along the way, her newsletter became a platform for several other luminaries in their own light, notably Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams.
2007 - Theora Richards (1916 - 2007)
Sister Theora Richards, the Society's 2nd recipient of the Wright Award, founded the Booker T. Washington Appreciation Circle in the 70's, gave lectures promoting Washington's hidden legacy throughout New York City and, for years, championed Booker T. Washington's economic programs,
"Mother Theora" as she was affectionately known in later years, wrote several books, of which her best known, Economic Power: The Original Plan of Booker T. Washington, was the culmination of five years of research to spread the word of Booker T. Washington. It was published in 1978 and, in 2000, an accompanying DVD displayed her slide shows and programs she had developed over the years.
2008 - William Richard Craft
One night in 1979, Mr. Craft, happened to tune in to a radio show interviewing Mother Theora. He was so impressed with what he heard about Dr. Washington, that he went to the NY library to learn more and discovered a BTW's perhaps most powerful, timely book, Character Building. Noticing that it was out-of-print, Mr. Craft took it upon himself to publish it.
Further, to insure that the works of Dr. Washington were not lost in the dustbin of history, Mr. Craft personally researched, edited, and published, "The Chronicles of Booker T. Washington," an anthology of several of the 'almost forgotten' writings of Dr. Washington.
Here, at the original Hall of Fame, (Bronx, New York), under the bust of Booker T. Washington, President Ron Court was pleased and honored to present Mr. Craft with the Wright Award, for truly helping to keep the flame alive.
2009 - Lee H. Walker
Lee Walker, is a retired president of the New Coalition for Economic and Social Change, a Senior fellow of The Heartland Institute, and chairman of the Illinois State Advisory Cmte. to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. (full bio here)
Mr. Walker has championed the work ethic of Dr. Washington for decades, keeping his favorite BTW quote on the back of his business card: "Success is measured not by the position one has reached in life, rather by the obstacles overcome."
2010 - Dr. Robert J. Norrell
Dr. Norrell holds the Bernadotte Schmitt Chair of Excellence and Professor of History at the U. of Tennessee-Knoxville, and is the author of several critically acclaimed books. He is honored here for his meticulously researched biography of Booker T. Washington, Up From History.
Ronald Court, BTW Society President, presented the Wright Award to Dr. Norrell in 2014, though Dr. Norrell was awarded 'the Wright' in 2010. (He was in Germany and teaching at the U. of Tubingen and unable to receive it.)
Now that he is back home at the U. of Tennessee, it was with much pleasure and appreciation for his work, that Ron was finally able to personally present Dr. Norrell with the award.
In today’s turbulent times, Booker T. Washington's common-sense philosophy, grounded in bedrock beliefs that high, upright character, coupled with a practical education, will lead to greater opportunities, holds as much promise today for all individuals -- and for our nation -- as it has for the past century.
We are grateful to Dr. Norrell for helping to keep the torch of Booker T. alive.