Scott, Emmett J.

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Scott, Emmett J.

February 13, 1873
December 12, 1957

The author and administrator Emmett Scott was born in Houston, Texas, and briefly attended Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, before beginning to work as a journalist at the Houston Post in 1881. (He was awarded an honorary M.A. from Wiley College in 1901.) In 1894 he founded and edited his own weekly African-American newspaper, the Houston Freeman. Because his views were generally in close agreement with those of Booker T. Washington, Washington asked Scott to become his personal secretary. From this position, which Scott held until Washington's death in 1915, he was elected secretary of the Tuskegee Institute in 1912. Scott was widely recognized as a leader in what later became known as the Tuskegee Machine, the group of people close to Booker T. Washington who wielded great influence over African-American presses, churches, and schools in order to promote Washington's views.

After Washington's death, Scott became special assistant to the U.S. secretary of war in charge of Negro affairs at the start of World War I. At a time when race relations in the military were an issue of debate, Scott became the liaison between black soldiers and the War Department. From 1919 until 1939, Scott held positions as secretary, treasurer, or business manager at Howard University, in Washington, D.C. There he helped create procedures for electing the first alumni trustees. In the business community, Scott became the principal organizer of the National Negro Business League. Like Washington, Scott believed that African Americans who achieved business success and property ownership would be given political and civil rights. His views are set forth in such works as Tuskegee and Its People (1910), The American Negro in the World War (1919), and a biography of his mentor, Booker T. Washington, Builder of a Civilization (1916).

See also Washington, Booker T.


Emmett Jay Scott papers, Morris A. Soper Library of Morgan State University, Baltimore, Md.

Logan, Rayford, ed. Dictionary of American Negro Biography. New York: W. W. Norton, 1982.

Low, W. Augustus, ed. Encyclopedia of Black America. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1981.

sasha thomas (1996)

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Scott, Emmett J.

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