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Wisdom is the core character trait of the month of September.

What is wisdom?

Wisdom is making practical application of truth in daily decisions.

Where does the word come from?

Word etymology: Wisdom comes from the Anglo-Saxon root wis, meaning “wise; understanding truth, knowing,” and the suffix –dom, meaning “judgment.”

Wisdom in Action

800px-bookertwashington-cheynes-locBooker T. Washington was born a slave on April 5, 1856. Rising from that position, he used dedication and hard-work to become a teacher, author, orator, advisor to two presidents, and a shaper of the future. He believed that an education was essential to advance himself, and at the age of 16 he chose to leave home, walking 500 miles to Hampton Normal Agricultural Institute in Virginia. Along the road he took odd jobs to support himself. Once he arrived, he convinced administrators to let him attend the school and took a job as a janitor to help pay his tuition.

By 1881 Washington had developed enough support for his vision to provide education and job training for children of emancipated slaves to be recommended to lead Alabama’s new Tuskegee Institute. There he taught his students self-reliance through reading, writing, mechanical skills and trades. He understood the truth that knowledge creates opportunity, and he applied that insight by creating a program that would turn disenfranchised youth into lifelong learners.

The school would in time become Tuskegee University, and set the pace for black colleges and universities across the country. One of the famous contributions the school made was to establish an aeronautics program designed to train mechanics and pilots. By 1946, the

The Tuskegee Airmen

The Tuskegee Airmen

program produced nearly 1,000 pilots and many more mechanics, ground staff, medical personnel and others needed to support flight groups. Of that number, 335 were deployed to Europe. They were the first black combat airmen, proving to the military hierarchy that blacks were every bit as capable of handling the toughest assignments as their white counterparts.

Washington remains a controversial figure because of his willingness to work within the existing power structures of the day rather than battle them overtly, but it is widely acknowledged that his message of self-sufficiency and building economic and social power through strong communities and educational programs had a lasting impact on the civil rights movement in America.

You can read more about Washington and how he applied wisdom to provide opportunity and change the way blacks were viewed in his autobiography, Up From Slavery.

Quotes from Booker T. Washington

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life… as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.”- Booker T. Washington

“The world cares very little about what a man or woman knows; it is what a man or woman is able to do that counts.” – Booker T. Washington

Discussion Questions

  • What characterizes a wise person? Give an example of a wise friend.
  • How do we gain wisdom?
  • What do you know that you should apply to your life?
  • Do you know someone who values truth and integrity and readily admits when he or she is wrong? How does this example challenge you?


  1. Click to read about Justice, the character trait of October.
  2. Click to read about Endurance, the character trait of November.
  3. Click to read about Self-Control, the character trait of December.
  4. Click to read about Love, the character trait of January.
  5. Click to read about Integrity, the character trait of February.
  6. Click to read about Determination, the character trait of March.
  7. Click to read about Gratefulness, character trait of April.
  8. Click to read about Humility, character trait of May.
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