Author: Booker T. Washington

Booker T. Washington, Library of Congress, 1905

The son of an African American slave and a white planter, Booker Taliaferro Washington (1856–1915) was part of the last generation of Americans to be born into slavery, freed in 1865 as the Civil War came to a close. After working in salt furnaces and coal mines in West Virginia, Washington attended the Hampton Institute, a school in Virginia dedicated to educating freemen, and, a few years later, at the age of 25, became the first president of the Tuskegee Institute, an African American teachers college in Alabama. He headed the Institute for the rest of his life, using his position to write about and promote his views on race and civil rights. Washington’s books include, among others, The Future of the American Negro (1899), Up from Slavery (1901), and Working with the Hands (1904).

Address on Abraham Lincoln

Booker T. Washington
At another celebration of Lincoln’s centennial birthday, the African American educator and leader Booker T. Washington (1856–1915) addressed the Republican Club of New York City.

My View of Segregation Laws

Booker T. Washington

This selection, by Booker T. Washington (1865–1915), offers sober (and subtle) arguments against racial segregation in land and housing. Born in slavery, Washington—a celebrated educator, author, orator, statesman, and founder of the Tuskegee Institute—rose to become the most influential black leader at the turn of the 20th century.