Booker T. Washington

Black History Month Profile

Booker Taliaferro Washington or Booker T. Washington, was an educator, activist, and founder that built a University from the ground up and created a door for many African-Americans to attain knowledge.

Washington was born on April 5, 1856, in Hale’s Ford, Virginia. He studied at Hamptons Normal Agricultural Institute in Virginia, and later graduated in 1875. After graduating in 1881, Washington was referenced by General Armstrong to operate the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute or later known as, Tuskegee University in Alabama. The Tuskegee Institution took place in an old church with little equipment and a small budget, so Washington traveled throughout towns to promote the university. He promoted it by posing the school as no threat to the white community. Washington served as principal and used his ideas to help African-Americans have a basic understanding of economic stability.

Washington believed that African-Americans should accept the social segregation, as long as they were given the same economic progression, education, and justice in courts. He shared his beliefs publically in the ‘Atlanta Compromise’ in 1895.

In 1901, Washington ate alongside president Theodore Roosevelt at the White House. Along with his somewhat controversial dinner, Washington also released his autobiography ‘Up from Slavery’. He later released many other books including ‘The Story of the Negro: The Rise of the Race from Slavery’ in 1909, ‘My Larger Education’ in 1911 and  ‘The Man Farthest Down’ in 1912.

Washington later died on November 14, 1915. Though his time on earth was done, he still had a substantial impact on the African-American community. The Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute later gained 100 buildings, 1,500 new students, more than 200 faculty members, and an endowment of over $2 million.