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Return to List of Illustrations for An Autobiography: The Story of My Life and Work by Booker T. The Booker T Washington biography is an inspirational read of a man who rose above his circumstances and left a mark in history. Collections >> North American Slave Narratives >> Document Menu >> 303 - LAUNDRY BUILDING AT TUSKEGEE INSTITUTE. Childhood & Early LifeBooker Taliaferro was born to a black slave woman, Jane in Virginia.
CareerHe found employment as a school teacher in Malden upon his graduation and attended the Wayland Seminary in Washington, D.C. Awards & AchievementsHe was awarded an honorary master’s degree from Harvard University in 1896 and an honorary doctorate from Dartmouth College in 1901 for his contributions to American society.Something Wrong? Any man's life will be filled with constant and unexpected encouragement if he makes up his mind to do his level best each day. Some materials and photos on this site are the intellectual property of their respective originator. He believed in building character and preferred that before demanding civil rights the blacks invest in themselves and the nation through academics and practical education. Washington was one of the foremost African-American leaders who served as an advisor to several U.S. Washington was a great educator and orator who founded the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Alabama, now known as the Tuskegee University.
Nothing else is known about his biological father expect for the fact that he was a white man.Something Wrong? Born to a black slave mother and an unknown white father, Washington had a very difficult childhood; as a small boy he was forced to work strenuously and often beaten up.
After emancipation Washington worked his way through school; here he met Samuel Armstrong who mentored and greatly influenced him.
He would observe white children at school and wanted to study but it was illegal for slaves to receive an education. Tell Us About It.He began working as a young child as children of slaves became slaves by default. Tell Us About It.In 1881, the Alabama legislature approved the building of a new school for the blacks, called the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute. PUBLISHPersonal Life & LegacyHe married Fannie Smith in 1882 and had one child with her.

Armstrong was also instrumental in installing Washington as the principal of the Tuskegee Institute for black children.Washington’s belief in academics supported by practical education gave the school a strong foundation.
Washington provides detailed information about his childhood, life, achievements, works & timeline. Poverty prevented him from studying even after his family was freed forcing him to seek employment. He wanted to study but it was illegal at that time for slaves to get educated.Something Wrong?
However, he found a saviour in Viola Ruffner, the woman he worked for, who encouraged him to study.
He eventually attended the Hampton Normal Agricultural Institute where the headmaster Samuel Armstrong became his mentor and deeply influenced the young Washington’s philosophy.
The former slave became an educator after his graduation and eventually helped found the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute.
Tell Us About It.Initially classes were held in a shanty old church and Washington personally traveled from place to place promoting the school. He became an orator and represented the African-American community in the Atlanta Compromise in 1895 thereby becoming a national figure. The school provided academic as well as practical education in fields like carpentry, farming, printing, etc.Something Wrong?
His speech on bringing economic and social progress of blacks through education and entrepreneurship made him a widely respected member of the African-American community.
Tell Us About It.His mother married a man called Washington Ferguson and the boy officially took the surname of his stepfather and became Booker T.
His entire philosophy, whether towards education or civil rights, is best represented in his own words, “… progress in the enjoyment of all the privileges that will come to us must be the result of severe and constant struggle rather than of artificial forcing."Booker T Washington Vs WEB Dubois - Great AccommodatorThe Booker T Washington Vs WEB Dubois debate hinges upon what should have been the right approach for advancement of black civil rights. Tell Us About It.The school prospered under his able leadership and grew to include several well-equipped buildings with more than 1500 students and a faculty of 200 by the time of his death.Something Wrong?
His third wife Margaret Murray helped rear the children from his previous marriages.Something Wrong?
Dubois preferred a stronger approach whereas Washington felt that this would be to the detriment of the blacks as they were outnumbered and sorely needed cooperation from the whites.Initially Dubois supported Washington, it was after the Atlanta Exhibition address that he started becoming disillusioned by Washington’s ‘go slow’ approach.
Dubois wanted more aggressive action to get blacks their rights and believed that they too should have similar education as the whites. Tell Us About It.He was invited to speak at the Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta, known as the ‘Atlanta Compromise’ in 1895.

The speech was widely reported by the newspapers and made him an ideal representative of the African-American community.Something Wrong? Tell Us About It.He found job as a houseboy at the house of coal mine owner Lewis Ruffner in 1866.
Tell Us About It.In 1901, he was invited by the President Theodore Roosevelt to visit the White House. His wife Viola recognized the boy’s intelligence and encouraged him to study.Something Wrong?
Roosevelt as well as his successor President William Howard Taft consulted Washington on racial matters.Something Wrong?
Tell Us About It.In 1872, he joined Hampton Normal Agricultural Institute, an educational establishment for freed blacks. The book gave an account of how he rose from the position of a slave child to become an educator.Something Wrong? Tell Us About It.The headmaster of the institute, Samuel Armstrong, was an opponent of slavery who believed in emancipation of blacks through education.
He spotted the boy’s potential and arranged a scholarship for his education through a wealthy white man.Something Wrong?
Tell Us About It.Armstrong became the boy’s mentor and helped him develop a strong character. PUBLISHMajor WorksThe Tuskegee University which he had established in an old dilapidated church building in 1881 today provides education to 3000 students from not just the U.S. The campus of the university is designated as the Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site.Something Wrong?
Tell Us About It.His autobiography ‘Up from Slavery’ gave a detailed account of the problems faced by blacks during that era and how he overcame the obstacles to succeed in his life. The book became a bestseller and is listed among the Modern Library’s list of the 100 best nonfiction books of the 20th century.Something Wrong?

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