Black History Month Spotlight: Booker T. Washington

Courtesy of Google Images

Courtesy of Google Images

In honor of Black History Month, all of the editors and writers for The Pioneer are writing about an African-American individual who made a difference in U.S. history.  Booker T. Washington was a well-known  teacher, author, and spokesperson for the rights of African-American citizens in the late 1800s. He founded Tuskegee University in Alabama and published 15 books.

On April 5, 1856, he was born into slavery. His mother, Jane, was a slave and his father was a planter in a nearby area, in a rural town in Virginia. After they were emancipated, Washington, his mother, and his siblings moved to West Virginia, where Washington’s mother was originally from. Washington had several different jobs before he decided he wanted an education. He attended Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute and Wayward Seminary, which are presently known as Hampton University and Virginia Union University.

In 1876, Washington decided to move back to Malden, West Virginia. He became a Sunday school teacher at African Zion Baptist Church. In 1881, he married Fannie Smith. He later went back to Hampton and became a teacher. He worked at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.

Washington became well-known throughout the United States in 1895 because of his Atlanta Exposition Address, also known as the Atlanta Compromise Speech, on the topic of race-relations. He started schools in southern states so that African-American people in the South could receive a good education. Presidents William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt both asked Washington for advice throughout their presidencies topics concerning the rights of African-American people. He continued to play a prominent role in demanding civil rights for African-Americans for the rest of his life.

In addition to his 14 other books, Booker T. Washington also wrote an autbiography titled Up from Slavery, which is still read today. Washington made a difference and helped improve life for African-Americans in the U.S. and helped improve educational opportunities, such as the ability to pursue a higher education. Washington continued make an impact long after he died. His peaceful way of supporting equal rights was also one of the many inspirations for the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Washington’s inspirational life and contributions have solidified his place in African-American history.

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Posted on February 20, 2013, in Top Stories and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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