This Day in Texas History:
Emmett Scott Appointed to Reduce Racial Tension
October 15, 1917
On this day in 1917, Secretary of War Newton D. Baker appointed Emmett Jay Scott his special assistant to urge the equal and impartial application of Selective Service regulations, to improve the morale of black servicemen, and to investigate racial incidents and charges of unfair treatment.
For Scott, born in Houston in 1873, the appointment became a small part of an outstanding career as a public servant, editor, and author. He was awarded a master of arts degree from Wiley College in 1901 and an LL.D. by Wiley College and Wilberforce University (Ohio) in 1918. He founded the Houston Texas Freeman, the oldest black newspaper published west of the Mississippi, which he edited from 1894 to 1897. He then moved to Tuskegee, Alabama, where he worked with Booker T. Washington until 1915; he became Washington’s chief adviser, confidant, and even ghostwriter. Scott also served as secretary of the National Negro Business League from 1902 to 1922, as a member of the American Commission to Liberia in 1909, as secretary to the International Conference on the Negro in 1912, and as secretary-treasurer of Howard University from 1919 to 1934.
During World War II he was personnel director for the Sun Shipbuilding Company in Chester, Pennsylvania. His books include Booker T. Washington: Builder of a Civilization (1916), which he coauthored with Lyman Beecher Stowe; Scott’s Official History of the American Negro in the World War (1919); and Negro Migration During the War (1920). Scott died on December 11, 1957, at Freedmen’s Hospital in Washington, D.C., after a long illness.
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