Booker T. Washington
The purpose for writing on Booker T. Washington is to focus on his educational contributions, and the different speeches he gave during and after the 19th century for African American and for the institution. Booker was born into slavery on a small tobacco plantation on April 5 1856. While in grade school he did not have a last name. When he realized that all of the other children at the school had a second name, and the teacher asked him his, he invented the name Washington.
For the first nine years of his life until 1865 when the close of the Civil War emancipated the boy Booker and the remainder of his race, he like many other Americans of dark skin had been considered a piece of property on a Southern plantation. Any education extraneous to their enforced labor had been forbidden to most Negroes in the South. By 1895 however, in his historic Atlanta Exposition Address, Washington was to say:
Starting thirty years ago with ownership here and there in a few quilts and pumpkins and chickens (gathered from miscellaneous sources), remember the path that has led from these to the inventions and production of agricultural implements, buggies, steam engines, newspapers, books, statuary, carving, paintings, the management of drug-stores and banks, has not been trodden without contact with thorns and thistles.1
This famous speech placed Washington in the national spotlight as the leader of his race. How did he rise to the top? What were the methods he used to raise his people, and how did he discover those ways?
In 1881 citizens in Tuskegee, Alabama, asked Hampton’s president to recommend a white man to head their new black college; he suggested Washington instead. The school had an annual legislative appropriation of $2,000 for salaries, but no campus, buildings, pupils, or staff. Washington had to recruit pupils and teachers and raise money for land, buildings, and equipment. Hostile rural whites that feared education would ruin black laborers accepted his demonstration that his students’ practical training would help improve their usefulness. He and his students built a kiln and made the bricks with which they erected campus buildings.