Booker T. Washington and the Negro's Place in American Society

Essay by tdesando86A-, February 2006

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I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has had to overcome while trying to succeed.

-Booker T. Washington

The historical text, Booker T. Washington and the Negro's Place in American Life is a document that meticulously details the life, achievements, viewpoints, opposition and controversy of the famed civil rights figure, Booker T. Washington.

Booker T. Washington was the most controversial figure in the fight for civil rights with his rise to fame in the late 1800's. Many who knew him believed that he was a clear-cut man, and he was admired as an authentic hero to black Americans, and in his later years he earned several nicknames.

The soon-to-be-famous civil rights leader was born in 1858, grew up in a cabin with a dirt floor and was a slave in Franklin County (near present day Roanoke), Virginia.

He grew up hearing rumors that his natural father was a white man, but they were only that, rumors. He, his brother and his sister slept on a pile of rags that their mother had laid out on the dirt floor of their cabin. After the Emancipation Proclamation was announced, his family was so stricken with poverty that he worked in salt furnaces and coal mines beginning at age nine. Booker was not allowed in school due to the color of his skin, and the closest he ever came to a school, at that time, was walking with his Masters' daughters to their school, while helping them carry their books. "I had the feeling that to get into a schoolhouse and study would be about the same as getting into paradise." (Washington, 44)

When Washington was finally allowed attendance to an...