This Booker T. Washington syndrome permeated every aspect of the education I received in Birmingham. Work hard and you will be rewarded. A corollary of this principle was that the road would be harder and rockier for Black people than for their white counterparts. Our teachers warned us that we would have to steel ourselves for hard labor and more hard labor, sacrifices and more sacrifices. Only this would prove that we were serious about overcoming all the obstacles before us. It often struck me they were speaking of these obstacles as if they would always be there, part of the natural order of things, rather than the product of a system of racism, which we could eventually overturn.