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Booker T. Washington

Booker Talifero (T.) Washington (April 5, 1856 - November 15, 1915) was an African-American educator born into slavery in Piedmont, Virginia. After the American Civil War, when the Emancipation Proclamation was enforced, he worked with his mother Jane as a salt-packer in a West Virginia facility, and, when he could, attended school. At 16, he entered the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute[?] in Virginia, a school intended to train black teachers.

- Booker T. Washington -
Booker T. Washington later founded and served as president of Tuskeegee Institute, an academic and vocational school for blacks during Reconstruction. He was to become one of America's foremost educators of his time. He also recruited George Washington Carver to teach and conduct research at Tuskeegee Institute.

Active in politics, he was routinely consulted by Congressmen and Presidents about the appointment of blacks to political positions. He worked and socialized with many white politicians and notables. He argued that self-reliance was the key to improved conditions for blacks in the US. However, for his advice to blacks to "compromise" and accept segregation, other black activists of the time, such as W. E. B. DuBois, labeled him an "accomodator".

His autobiography, Up from Slavery[?], was a bestseller.

"Think about it: We went into slavery pagans; we came out Christians. We went into slavery pieces of property; we came out American citizens. We went into slavery with chains clanking about our wrists; we came out with the American ballot in our hands... Notwithstanding the cruelty and moral wrong of slavery, we are in a stronger and more hopeful condition, materially, intellectually, morally, and religiously, than is true of an equal number of black people in any other portion of the globe." - from Up From Slavery

For his contributions to American society, Booker T. Washington was granted honorary degrees from Harvard University and Dartmouth College and on April 5, 1956, the house where he was born was created a United States National Monument. On April 7, 1940, Booker T. Washington became the first African American to be depicted on a United States postage stamp.


"The Awakening of the Negro," The Atlantic Monthly, 78 (September, 1896).
"The Case of the Negro," The Atlantic Monthly, 84 (November, 1899).
Up from Slavery: An Autobiography (1901)

See also: Slave narrative

References and external links:

  • Published works
Up from Slavery, Project Gutenberg edition: http://digital.library.upenn.edu/webbin/gutbook/lookup?num=2376
"The Awakening of the Negro:" http://www.colorado.edu/English/engl4652/btw.awakening
"The Case of the Negro:" http://www.colorado.edu/English/engl4652/btw.case

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