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(1884), Alexander Crummell, “Excellence, an End of the Trained Intellect”

In an address to women of  the graduating class of the Colored High School in Washington, D.C. on  June 6th 1884, Rev. Alexander Crummell urges them to put their intellect and their education in the service of racial advancement.  The address appears below.

Young Ladies: Two nations of antiquity have often in your school life been brought before you, distin¬guished respectively, the one for excellence and the other for practicality. The Greeks stand for in human history pre eminently as the type of culture and refine¬ment. The Romans, down to our day, are the standard of the practical, the people who surpassed all others in the expression of the principle of utility.

These two ideas may be taken as representing the two prime ends of human training and education.

You are now on your passage from the High School to the broader field and the more responsible duties of the Normal School. So well have you acquitted your¬selves in this lower plane of study that the officers of these schools are glad to tender you the cordial invita¬tion  “Come up higher!" And so the doors of a higher Academy stand open before you, its accom¬plished Principal both anxious and ready to welcome you. And here you will find the many facilities for gaining a wider acquaintance and a more advanced civilization.

At just this stage of life it seems to me both fit and advisable, to call your attention to the fact, that excellence and utility are the special objects of your school life; and also to point out to you their relative place and importance.

I shall dwell but briefly upon the principle of utility, for the reason that it is not just now the immediate end of your training. There is a time for everything, and the wisdom of man in all ages has made youth the time of preparation as a means to a distant end.

If we wish to make our existence a full, complete, and rounded thing it becomes us to have everything in its own order. School life is first in order, a preparatory stage, which is both designed and fitted to reach over to active duty,

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