William A. D. Venerable, to Jane Addams, October 29 1913

Lincoln-Lee Institute
1746 State Street

North Chicago, Ill. Oct. 29, 1913.

Miss Jane Addams,
800 Halsted St.,
Chicago, Ill.,

My Dear Miss Addams: --

I wrote you about a month ago with reference to a question of great moment, both to the white and the black races particularly of the Middle West, at which time you were out of the city.

I entertained the idea that the race with which I am identified needs improvement. I have conceived the idea that the best possible way to bring about that improvement is the establishment of a Tuskegee, or a school to all intents and purposes like that of Dr. Booker T. Washington for the Middle West. The Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Evening Post, The St. Louis Globe-Democrat, The St. Louis Republic and Dr. Charles Bayard Mitchell of this city, Mrs. Ella Flagg Young, Dr. Charles W. Gilkey and the leading educators and social workers of the Middle West, have agreed that the possibilities of such a movement are indeed wonderful, so far as relates to the social and industrial uplift of the black people and in the creation of a better citizenship, generally.

I am aware as to your generous spirit, respecting my people, and have been aware of the same since your notable address before the National Progressive Party at its birth in this city. I, therefore, feel no hesitancy in seeking your most hearty [cooperation] in a matter as closely allied to your own work, almost as the throbbing of the heart to life.

Tuskegee Institute is overcrowded the year around and this were not true, the thousands of boys and girls of our race, desiring the class of training received at Tuskegee, would never go to Alabama to get it. The first reason is, they are too poor; the second is because of the peculiar [environments] there, of which you and all well-informed persons are perfectly aware.

The work in which you are engaged gives you a general knowledge of conditions among my people and therefore, peculiarly fits you to sympathize with and [cooperate] in a movement of the kind suggested. I am, therefore writing you in the hope that despite your [already] busy life, you may find a moment of time to suggest to me how I might best succeed in this matter, or to suggest to someone who might render practical sympathy, the grave necessity of such a work among my people. [page 2]

You, no doubt, personally know most every philanthropic inclined man and woman in this and other sections, and I feel perfectly confident that your [cooperation] in this matter means ready and certain victory for us.

The white man says he has a burden and when asked to define that burden, the answer is "our burden lies in the fact of the low social condition of the black people and their inability to do things." Well, be that as it may, they must all agree that the work proposed is a constructive work for a needy people.

We are endeavoring to raise one hundred thousand dollars for the purchase of eighteen hundred acres of land to be devoted to the cause herein described. A prominent Chicago society lady, who prohibits the use of her name for the time being, made a tentative donation of ten thousand dollars. That is to say, when our trustee board has raised ninety thousand dollars, she will complete the hundred thousand dollars, which is necessary to accomplish the end designed. The black people have pledged a fraction over eleven thousand dollars, and our trustee board composed of prominent white men, have pledged seven thousand dollars and four thousand from other sources has been pledged. We desire to dedicate the tract of land the fifteenth of April 1914. The fifteenth of April being the day upon which our friend, the martyr Abraham Lincoln, sacrificed his life. It is our purpose to dedicate the school at its opening, September twenty-second, 1914, or the date of our emancipation. Miss Addams, as true as the sun ever shone, we will accomplish our purpose if we secure your sympathy and support.

Yours most sincerely,

Wm A. D. Venerable [signed]