About The Author: Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) was born into a life of slavery to his mother Jane and a white father, who he never knew. Following the emancipation, Washington’s mother migrated the family to join her husband in West Virginia, where Washington earned a humble income through manual labor. Washington, hungry for education and experience, worked his way through the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute and attended college at Weyland Seminary in Washington, D.C.
Upon returning to Malden, West Virginia, Washington enriched his personal life, marrying Fannie Smith and teaching Sunday School at the African Zion Baptist Church. Impassioned by academia, Washington eventually returned to Hampton as a teacher and in 1881 became the first leader of the new Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.
Washington used his new, prestigious position to gain political momentum and won national acclaim for his Atlanta Address of 1895, establishing himself as an esteemed voice for African American citizens. Educator, orator, author and political leader, Washington earned nationwide support in black communities, with black ministers, educators and businessmen acting as his chief advocates. Washington represented a generation of the last black American leaders who had been slaves and went on to live in the Post-Reconstructionist South. As a chief proponent of education, Washington established a variety of vocational schools, in addition to writing fourteen books, including his autobiography, Up From Slavery. Washington’s pragmatic approach and ambitious spirit enabled the African American community to band together to form the Civil Rights Movement, which implemented federal civil rights laws that forever changed racial history.
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