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Included here are Booker T. Washington's Up From Slavery, W. E. B.
Du Bois's The Souls of Black Folk, and Frederick Douglass's Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. These stirring accounts, significant testaments to our nation's past together in one volume, belong on the bookshelves of everyone interested in African-American history.
A firm believer in the value of education as the best route to advancement, Washington disapproved of civil-rights agitation and in so doing earned the opposition of many black intellectuals. Yet, he is today regarded as a major figure in the struggle for equal rights, one who founded a number of organizations to further the cause and who worked tirelessly to educate and unite African Americans.
Booker T. Washington was instrumental in helping to establish schools specializing in vocational training for minorities in order to advance their position in society by obtaining marketable skills. A firm believer in the value of education as the best route to advancement, Washington disapproved of civil-rights agitation and in so doing earned the opposition of many black intellectuals. Yet, he is today regarded as a major figure in the struggle for equal rights, one who founded a number of organizations to further the cause and who worked tirelessly to educate and unite African Americans.
- This autobiography of Booker T. Washington is unabridged, and contains an additional annotation at the start of the book. This section aims to give the reader an historical context, and contains a brief History of Slavery in America, and the Abolishment of Slavery. This will help set the stage for this autobiography by Booker T. Washington:
“I was born a slave on a plantation in Franklin County, Virginia. I am not quite sure of the exact place or exact date of my birth, but at any rate I suspect I must have been born somewhere and at some time. As nearly as I have been able to learn, I was born near a cross-roads post-office called Hale's Ford, and the year was 1858 or 1859. I do not know the month or the day. The earliest impressions I can now recall are of the plantation and the slave quarters—the latter being the part of the plantation where the slaves had their cabins.
My life had its beginning in the midst of the most miserable, desolate, and discouraging surroundings. This was so, however, not because my owners were especially cruel, for they were not, as compared with many others. I was born in a typical log cabin, about fourteen by sixteen feet square. In this cabin I lived with my mother and a brother and sister till after the Civil War, when we were all declared free.
This volume is the outgrowth of a series of articles, dealing with incidents in my life, which were published consecutively in the Outlook.
I have tried to tell a simple, straightforward story, with no attempt at embellishment. The greater part of my time and strength is required for the executive work connected with the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, and in securing the money necessary for the support of the institution. Much of what I have said has been written on board trains, or at hotels or railroad stations while I have been waiting for trains, or during the moments that I could spare from my work while at Tuskegee.”
—Booker T. Washington “
“I cannot recall a single instance during my childhood or early boyhood when our entire family sat down to the table together. On the plantation in Virginia, and even later, meals were gotten to the children very much as dumb animals get theirs… a piece of bread here and a scrap of meat there.”
He was nine when his family gained their emancipation and he describes the rejoicing and the apprehension as freed slaves entered a new life. His mother took the family to the free state of West Virginia. The only name he had known was “Booker,” but at school, when first asked his name by the teacher, he coolly added “Washington” to be like the other children who had at least two names. This established him on a path of fitting into the white world.
In the course of his life he established the Tuskegee Institute, now Tuskegee University, helped found the National Negro Business League, now eclipsed by the NAACP, and advised several US presidents. Between 1890 and 1915, Washington was the dominant leader in the African American community and of the contemporary Black elite. He established a powerful political and financial network to advance the cause of African Americans through education and business known as the Tuskegee Machine.
Up from Slavery chronicles Washington's life from slave to schoolmaster to statesman. It was a best seller when published and for many years thereafter. In it he writes
“The temptations to enter political life were so alluring that I came very near yielding to them at one time, but I was kept from doing so by the feeling that I would be helping in a more substantial way … through a generous education of the hand, head, and heart.”
Booker Taliaferro Washington (1856 – 1915) was an American educator, author, orator, and advisor to presidents of the United States. Between 1890 and 1915, Washington was the dominant leader in the African-American community. Washington was from the last generation of black American leaders born into slavery and became the leading voice of the former slaves and their descendants.
A Slave Among Slaves
The Struggle For An Education
The Reconstruction Period
Black Race And Red Race
Early Days At Tuskegee
Teaching School In A Stable And A Hen-House
Anxious Days And Sleepless Nights
A Harder Task Than Making Bricks Without Straw
Making Their Beds Before They Could Lie On Them
Two Thousand Miles For A Five-Minute Speech
The Atlanta Exposition Address
The Secret Of Success In Public Speaking
In this eloquently written book, Washington describes his impoverished childhood and youth as a child in bondage, and the difficulties he faced in his unrelenting struggle for an education. These challenges helped propel him into a dedicated obsession with the Hampton Institute until he achieved being enrolled there as a student. He covers his early teaching assignments and his work establishing vocational schools, including his selection in 1881 as the head of the famed Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, designed to help black people and other disadvantaged minorities learn useful and marketable skills to help them find jobs and pull themselves up as a race.
Reflecting on the generosity of teachers and philanthropists who helped educate blacks and Native Americans, Washington describes his efforts to instill manners, health and a feeling of dignity to students. His educational philosophy of education as the best route to advancement stressed combining academic subjects with learning a trade, believing that the integration of practical subjects helped reassure the white community as to the usefulness of educating black people.
Washington disapproved of civil-rights agitation thereby facing the opposition of many black intellectuals. Yet today he’s regarded as a major figure in the struggle for equal rights, who furthered the cause and worked tirelessly to educate and unite African Americans.