booker T. Washington

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Booker Taliaferro Washington

Booker T. Washington was born into slavery on April 5,1856 in Virginia. His mulatto mother raised him. She was a plantation cook., as well as a mother of three sons. She, unlike many other married slaves of the time, was reunited with her husband after the slave liberation in 1865. His father was a white man that had nothing to do with his upbringing.
Booker worked painstaking hours at a salt furnace and coal mine along side his two brothers. He was so determined to become educated that he agreed to work the mines at night to make up for the lose of time will he was at school. It is in school that Booker picked up the last name of Washington after finding out from his mother that he already had the last name of Taliaferro. He was then referred to as Booker T. Washington. It is this determination that leads Booker to become one of the most influential black educator, and leader of the late 19th century.
Washington and W.E.B. Dubois had contrasting views on the way that African Americans should progress in society. As Dr. Charles Turner stated in his lecture, “Dubois insisted on confrontational activities in the struggle for social, political and economic rights and gains” (Turner 2003). Washington’s approach on the other hand emphasized “careerism”. He believed that blacks could advance faster in this new society, which still had hostility towards blacks, by working harder in an economic standpoint rather then relying on the social aspects of equal rights. In 1881 he created what many would never expect from a former slave. The Hampton Institute president asked Washington to head their new black college, Tuskegee Institute. Washington accepted the position. The only downside to the idea was the schools budget didn’t include development and staffing for this new college. Washington took on the job and with help from his skilled students built the building from the ground up. Tuskegee became a very reputable resource for African Americans, bettering their skills and improving techniques as well as providing a better living for them economically.
Booker T. Washington is well know for his “Atlanta Compromise” speech. The speech further provided evidence of the ideology he lived by. He continually denounced the use of violent protest and activist activity and preached the idea of improving yourself socially through a skill.

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