Booker T. Washington and his work for civil rights

Essay by Sara ConnerUniversity, Bachelor'sA, February 1996

download word file, 2 pages 4.0

Booker T. Washington has been a most controversial figure in the fight for civil

rights since his rise to fame in the late 1800's. Many who knew him believed that he was

a straightforward man, and he was admired as a genuine hero to black Americans. In his

later years he earned several nicknames, including the Sage of Tuskegee and the Wizard

of the Tuskegee Machine.

Washington was born heard rumors about his father being a white man. The

soon-to-be-famous civil rights leader grew up in a cabin with an earthen floor and a slave

in Franklin City, Virginia in 1858 or 1859. Although he has researched his history, he has

only holes in the walls for windows. He and his brother and sister slept on a pile of rags

their mother had arranged on the dirt. Booker was not allowed in school for his color, and

the closest he came at the time was walking his Masters' daughters to carry their books.

When Washington was finally allowed in an all black school, he thirsted for

knowledge. At about eighteen years old, he learned of an all black college called the

Hampton Institute, and was desperate to attend. He worked several jobs just for traveling

money, and when he arrived in Virginia, did custodial work at the school to pay for his

room and tuition. Booker graduated in June on 1875 with high honors. Upon his return to

his hometown, he was elected to teach a colored school and soon began night school and

Sunday school classes.

Around this time, the Ku Klux Klan was near the height of its activity.

Washington realized it was their mission to crush Negro aspirations of participating in

politics, though they were more cruel than most. Several churches and schools were

burned, and innocent...