Booker T Washington Biography

Essay by ZapperkhanHigh School, 11th grade February 2004

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Booker Taliaferro Washington was born on April 5, 1856 in Franklin County, Virginia near a cross-roads post-office called Hale's Ford. He was an American educator and a black leader. When Booker was a child he worked in coal mines for nine months a year and spent the other three attending school. In 1875 he graduated after working his way through Hampton Institute. In 1881 he became the first president of Tuskegee Institute, a trade school for blacks that live in Alabama. When the Tuskegee Institute first opened it had only one teacher, about fifty students and 2,000 dollars a year from the state of Alabama. By its 25th anniversary under Washington's leadership, the school had more than 1,500 students, training in 37 industries.

In 1882 Booker got married to Miss Fannie N. Smith of Malden, West Virginia. Fannie died in May of 1884. One child, Portia M. Washington, was born during their two year marriage.

In 1885 Booker married Miss Olivia Davidson. Later on after four happy years of marriage Miss Olivia Davidson died in 1889. Two children had been born while they were married Booker Taliaferro Jr. and Ernest Washington. In 1893 he was married to Miss Margaret James Murray, a native of Mississippi, and a graduate of Fisk University located in Nashville, Tennessee.

Although Washington lived during a time in which his race was widely discriminated against, he recommended training black people for trades to build up their economic position before fighting for their integration and equality. He believed that black people advance only if they were educated.

In 1895 Booker presented his views in a speech at the Atlanta Exposition, he rapidly gained the attention of white leaders. He became powerful in channeling contributions to black causes and in getting blacks appointed to federal jobs. He...