Up From Slavery, by Booker T. Washington

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Booker T. Washington was a young black male born into the shackles of Southern slavery. With the Union victory in the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, Washington’s family and blacks in the United States found hope in a new opportunity, freedom. Washington saw this freedom as an opportunity to pursue a practical education. Through perseverance and good fortunes, Washington was able to attain that education at Hampton National Institute. At Hampton, his experiences and beliefs in industrial education contributed to his successful foundation at the Tuskegee Institute. The institute went on to become the beacon of light for African American education in the South. Booker T. Washington was an influential voice in the African American community following the Civil War. In his autobiography, Up from Slavery, Washington outlines his personal accounts of his life, achievements, and struggles. In the autobiography, Washington fails to address the struggle of blacks during Reconstruction to escape the southern stigma of African Americans only being useful for labor. However, Washington argues that blacks should attain an industrial education that enables them to find employment through meeting the economic needs of the South, obtaining moral character and intelligence, and embracing practical labor. His arguments are supported through his personal accounts as a student at Hampton Institute and as an administrator at the Tuskegee Institute. Washington’s autobiography is a great source of insight into the black education debate following Reconstruction.
The first argument Booker T. Washington makes is that blacks should seek an education that provides them with the opportunity to gain employment by meeting the sp...

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...ed from the institution through manual labor. Washington successfully makes his point that manual labor and industrial education could lead to the advancement of the black race following slavery.
Although the author provides many personal accounts of success among the black race, the macro view of the Southern perception of blacks are not examined in his work. However, the work provides an excellent source of reference to one of the two sides of the black education discussion during the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. The author in his work, Up from Slavery, successfully conveys his beliefs that blacks should prepare themselves for the real-world experiences they would face through an industrial education.

Works Cited

Washington, Booker T. Up from Slavery in Three Negro Classics, John Hope Franklin, Editor. New York: Avon Books, 1999.
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