Emmett Jay Scott

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Emmett Jay Scott
Photo of Emmett Jay Scott
BornFebruary 13, 1873
Houston, Texas, United States
DiedDecember 12, 1957(1957-12-12) (aged 84)
United States
OccupationPolitical advisor, educator, publicist

Emmett Jay Scott (February 13, 1873 – December 12, 1957) was a journalist, founding newspaper editor, government official and envoy, educator, and author. He was Booker T. Washington's closest adviser at the Tuskegee Institute and was Special Adviser of Black Affairs to Secretary of War Newton D. Baker. He traveled to Liberia for the U.S. Scott was the highest-ranking African-American in President Woodrow Wilson's administration.[1]

Scott was a member of the United States Liberian Commission. He also authored several books.[2][3][4] Morgan State College has a collection of his papers.[5] His letters to various parties are a valuable historical resource cited in many works. Scott was the highest ranking African American official in Woodrow Wilson's administration.[6]


Early life and education[edit]

Emmett Jay Scott was born in Houston, Texas in 1873, the son of former slaves Horace Lacy Scott and Emma Kyle.[7] He began his studies at Wiley College in 1887, but left 3 years later to pursue a career in journalism.[7]


Scott worked at the white-owned The Houston Post as a janitor before working his way up to messenger and eventually reporter.[7] He and friends knew that the city's African-American community was not receiving adequate coverage. Scott joined Charles N. Love and Jack Tibbitto in founding Houston's first African-American newspaper, the Texas Freeman.[8] Scott became editor soon after the newspaper began circulation.[7] His leadership expanded the Texas Freeman's presence in the Houston region, making it a prominent publication throughout Texas.[7]

Tuskegee Institute activities[edit]

Scott met Booker T. Washington, who was developing the Tuskegee Institute. He went to work as his assistant and personal secretary, working closely with him on management of the college, fundraising, and building networks with philanthropists.

A real estate investor with ties to the banking and insurance industries, Scott was a founder of the National Negro Business League in 1900 and served as Secretary of that organization from its establishment until 1922.[9]

In 1909 Scott was tapped by President William Howard Taft as one of three American commissioners to Liberia.[9]

Scott served as Secretary of the Tuskegee Institute from 1912 until 1917.[9] Scott was also selected as Secretary of the International Congress of the Negro, a conference hosted by the Tuskegee Institute in 1912.[9] Although he was heir apparent to take the helm as principal of Tuskegee Institute following Washington's death in 1915, the trustees passed over Scott to name Robert Russa Moton, formerly of the Hampton Institute, to the position.[9]


Scott reported as part of a group sent to the country from the U.S. government.[10] He worked with Booker T. Washington and took his place after Washington determined travel to Liberia would take him away from his other work for too long.[10][11]

World War I activity[edit]

After the election of President Woodrow Wilson, as the United States moved closer to war, Scott was appointed as Special Assistant for Negro Affairs to the Secretary of War Newton D. Baker. Scott was the highest-ranking African-American in the administration. He selected William Henry Davis to serve as his own assistant and staff manager, helping to ensure blacks were treated fairly by the War Department.

In June 1918 Scott organized a meeting of African-American journalists and business leaders to recommend a Black journalist to the U.S. War Department for reporting on the Negro troops in World War I. Ralph Waldo Tyler was selected to report on the Black troops at the front, and he became the first African-American foreign war correspondent. Tyler's reports were screened by the U.S. Committee on Public Information, then they were reviewed by Scott. He selected letters to be syndicated through the Black press.[12]

After the war, Scott wrote his own history of this period, Scott's Official History of the American Negro in the World War (1919) featuring a preface by Secretary Baker and foreword by General John Pershing.[12]

Howard University[edit]

After leaving the War Department, Scott was named Secretary-Treasurer of Howard University, a position he held until 1934, at which time the Treasurer position was split off.[9] Scott remained as Secretary of Howard until his forced retirement in 1939 at the age of 65.[9]

Death and legacy[edit]

Emmett Scott died December 12, 1957. He was 84 years old at the time of his death.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Dictionary of American Biography" (PDF). www.morgan.edu. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 January 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  2. ^ https://books.google.com/books?id=LtvEAQAACAAJ&dq="Emmett+j.+Scott"&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjbvufd9LnZAhUJgK0KHcPOD_QQ6AEIKTAA
  3. ^ Scott, Emmett J. (1 June 2000). "Scott's Official History of the American Negro in the World War: American Black in World War I". Afchron.Com – via Google Books.
  4. ^ Scott, Emmett J. (1 May 2010). "Builder of Civilization". BiblioBazaar – via Google Books.
  5. ^ Library, Morgan State College Soper (22 February 2018). "Preliminary Inventory of the Papers of the Emmett J. Scott Collection in Morgan State College, 1916-1951". Library, Morgan State College – via Google Books.
  6. ^ Walker, Eyvaine (22 February 2018). "Keeping a Family Legacy Alive: Unforgotten African Americans". Eyvaine Walker-Lindsey – via Google Books.
  7. ^ a b c d e African American National Biography (2 ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 101.
  8. ^ "Scott, Emmett J. (1873-1957)". blackpast.org. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Robert A. Hill (ed.), The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers: Volume 1: 1826-August 1919. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1983; pp. 173-174, fn. 1.
  10. ^ a b Bacon, Leonard; Thompson, Joseph Parrish; Storrs, Richard Salter; Beecher, Henry Ward; Leavitt, Joshua; Tilton, Theodore; Bowen, Henry Chandler; Ward, William Hayes; Holt, Hamilton; Franklin, Fabian; Fuller, Harold de Wolf; Herter, Christian Archibald (22 February 2018). "The Independent". S. W. Benecdict – via Google Books.
  11. ^ Scott, Emmett J. (21 December 2016). "The True Story of the Harlem Hellfighters in World War I". CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform – via Google Books.
  12. ^ a b Emmett Jay Scott (1919). Scott's Official History of the American Negro in the World War. Chicago: Homewood.
  13. ^ "Nixon, Drusilla Elizabeth Tandy". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association.

External links[edit]