Thursday, April 5, 2012

Happy birthday, Booker T. Washington

Booker T. Washington
It is the birthday of educator and author Booker T. Washington (1856), who wrote 14 books, including an autobiography, Up From Slavery (1901). He was a leading member of the last generation of African Americans born into slavery. At 25, he became the first leader of the Tuskegee Institute, a black teachers' college in Alabama. He advocated education as a means for African Americans to rise from poverty to success, and it became his life's work. He rose to national prominence after a speech on race relations given at the 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta in which he advocated that Southern blacks work hard and submit to white political rule in exchange for guaranteed education and equal rights under the law. It is regarded as one of the most important and influential speeches in American history. Later civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois criticized Washington, calling the speech the Atlanta Compromise. In addition to his autobiography, Washington also wrote The Story of My Life and Work (1900), The Story of the Negro: The Rise of the Race from Slavery [two volumes] (1909), My Larger Education (1911) and The Man Farthest Down (1912).

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