Black-Belt Diamonds: Gems from the Speeches, Addresses, and Talks to Students of Booker T. Washington, The Story of My Life & Work, and Working With the Hands are just a few of the written works by Booker T. Washington. Washington understood the importance of educating himself and wanted to share his wisdom with you and the rest of the world. April 5, 1856, marks the day that Washington was born, but I wonder if his parents knew the greatness that was destined for his future.
Where It All Began
Booker Taliaferro was born in a hut in Franklin County, Virginia on a plantation where his mother was the cook. He lived his life not knowing who his father was, but that wouldn’t stop him from paving his way through the world.
When the end of the Civil War came, Booker, his mother, and his siblings were set free by their slave owners, James and Elizabeth Burroughs, but the tough times for him and his family were not over. After being freed and relocating to Malden, West Virginia, with his family, Booker gave himself the surname ‘Washington’ when he enrolled in school but soon found that he and other African Americans were only permitted to attend school from 4-9 a.m. in the morning.
Despite the roadblocks that were put in his way, his love of knowledge and education grew. He soon traveled 500 miles to Hampton to continue his education and soon after found himself studying at Wayland Seminary located in Washington, D.C.
Fast forward to 1879 when General Samuel C. Armstrong would be so impressed with the work and intelligence of Washington that he would refer him to become the principal of an educational institution for African Americans students in Alabama. It was from then on that Washington worked at what is known as the Tuskegee Institute until his death.
George Washington Carver was hired by Booker T. Washington to teach agriculture at the Tuskegee Institute. In his own right, George Washington Carver is also one of the most revered and celebrated African Americans of his time for his achievements.
A Voice Spanning Decades
One speech entitled “The Atlanta Compromise” would propel Washington to becoming one of the most popular speakers of all time.
It was the first speech to be delivered by an African American in front of a diverse crowd addressing several issues that made up the political and societal landscape of equality pertaining to African Americans specifically.
From there he continued to deliver equally moving speeches. His stance on education is one that lives on today and should be studied.
Learn More about Booker T. Washington
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