logo-african
booker

booker-text

American educator, author, orator, and advisor

Booker Taliaferro Washington 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. On April 5, 1856, Washington was born into slavery in Franklin, Virginia, and due to this slavery condition, he had to start working at age nine. Although, early life was challenging, yet he was determined to get an education, and was able to enroll in 1872 at the Hampton Institute, now known as Hampton University, while he worked as a janitor to pay the expenses. After graduation in 1875, he returned to Malden and taught Children in day School and the adults at night.

In 1881, he founded the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Alabama (now known as Tuskegee University), which grew with focus on training African Americans in agricultural pursuits. Washington invested himself into the school's curriculum, stressing the virtues of patience, enterprise, and thrift.

Washington believed that if African Americans worked hard and obtained financial independence and cultural advancement, they would eventually win acceptance and respect from the white community. In 1895, Washington made known his view or philosophy on race in which he stated that African Americans should accept disenfranchisement and social segregation as long as whites allow them economic progress, educational opportunity and justice in the courts; a statement which led to his criticism from other activists such as W.E.B. Du Bois for having a conciliatory philosophy and opinion. He was seriously criticized for not maintaining the demand for equality for African Americans, as provided for in the 14th Amendment.

In 1901, Washington was invited to the White House by President Theodore Roosevelt, making him the first African American to be so honored, and both President Roosevelt and President William Howard used Washington as adviser on racial matters, partly because of his views on racial subservience. Though, he rose to have influence, he was criticized with indignation by the likes of Du Bois, who saw him as a traitor, and by 1913, Washington had lost much of his influence. Washington remained the head of Tuskegee Institute until his death, which was as a result of congestive heart failure, on November 14, 1915, at the age of 59.