Self Awareness Vehicle Who Are You

Booker T. Washington -            10 Great Quotes

Booker T. Washington -  Mini documentary

Booker T. Washington - Autobiography - Up From Slavery - Chapter 14

​Booker T. Washington - Mini bio

Great Educator Booker T. Washington

Booker T. Washington 1856-1915    

​​Booker T.Washington, would grow up to become one of the most powerful blacks in America.  One day, he would dine at the White House with the President Theodore Roosevelt, and be invited to tea with Queen Victoria in London.  Andrew Carnegie, the millionaire philanthropist, called Washington “one of the most wonderful men living or had ever lived” and entertained him  at the Carnegie Castle in Scotland.

Washington was born a plantation slave on April 5, 1856, in Franklin County, Virginia.  His mother, Jane, was the plantation cook, and his father was white. He was named Booker Taliaferro, but he took the name Washington when he enrolled in school.  By that time, Booker’s mother had married Washington Ferguson, and the family was living in Malden.  When he was 9 years old, Booker got a job packing salt.  He then worked two years in a coal mine before becoming a houseboy for the mine’s owner, Lewis Ruffner.  He managed to get the fundamentals of education from Ruffner’s wife, and by attending night school.  In 1872, Washington entered Hampton Institute.

After graduating with a B.A. degree in 1875, Washington taught at a school in Malden before returning to Hampton, in 1879, to organize a night school.  That same year, he received a M.A. degree from Wayland Seminary.  In 1881, he was chosen to start a new school similar to Hampton in Tuskegee, Alabama.  With only $2,000 for salaries and no land or buildings, Washington went to work to get both students and money.  Within seven years, Tuskegee Institute had over 400 students and 540 acres of land.

However, national fame did not come to Washington until his public address at the Cotton States International Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia, on September 18, 1895.  Washington felt that if blacks were to pursue the path of hard work, thrift, self-help, and economic progress, whites would have a greater acceptance of blacks.  His speech drew a standing ovation from the white audience, and later, his racial philosophy made him one of the most powerful and controversial blacks in the nation.  Many blacks bristled at his words and called Washington passive to the aggressive pursuit of civil rights.  Nevertheless, money for the Institute poured in along with speaking engagement requests for its founder.

Washington achieved a national prominence rare for any person in black or white America.  His autobiography, Up From Slavery, published in 1901, became a national best seller and was translated into many languages.  President Theodore Roosevelt consulted with him about presidential appointments and asked his advice on many racial policies.  As a result, the school that began in a rural black church grew to more than 60 buildings and a $3 million endowment by 1915.

Washington married three times and had three children. In 1897, he received an M.A. from Harvard and, in 1901, an L.L.D. from Dartmouth College.  In 1945, he was elected to the Hall of Fame of New York University.  Washington wrote many essays and speeches, which have been published along with numerous books about life and teachings.

On November 18, 1915, Booker T. Washington was only 59 when he died of arteriosclerosis, and his funeral was attended by nearly 8,000 people.  However, his life had been tainted by the scorn of some within his race.  But, he accomplished what he had set out to do, perhaps by the only means open to him.
Late in life, Washington expressed this hope: “More and more, we must learn to think not in terms of race or color or language or religion or political boundaries, but in terms of humanity.”

Excerpt from A Salute to Historic Black Educators.

​This is only a summary of the life of Booker T. Washington.