Who was Booker Taliaferro Washington?
Booker Taliaferro Washington was born on a Virginia plantation on 5th April, 1856. He was one of the eminent personalities of the world. At his early age, he was screened on the world map. He was one of America’s great educators. His mother was a slave who used to serve as cook for the family of her master.
Her mother left the plantation and moved with her children to Malden, West Virginia when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by Lincon in 1868, when all the slaves were freed. There Booker entered a school for black children. Just to supplement the income of his family he used to work in salt furnaces and coal mines early in the morning before going to school.
When he was seventeen years old, he joined the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute for black students in Virginia for three years. After completing his graduation, he started teaching-in a school and moreover he rendered his services as secretary to General Samuel Armstrong, principal of Hampton.
General Armstrong suggested Booker as organizer of a new industrial and teacher-training school for blacks in Tuskegee, Alabama. Actually, no financial aid was being provided to the school for land and buildings and hence the first classes met in a run down old church.
It was at Tuskegee that Washington did his great work as teacher and organizer. For years together he travelled widely sometimes by mule and buggy in order to raise funds for the school.
He was a stirring orator and delivered a number of speeches relating to the importance of school and what ways and means to be adopted in order to promote school activities. Very soon Booker became a leader in the field of Negro education.
During the lifetime of Washington, his school in Tuskegee made tremendous progress and its campus consisted of not less than one hundred buildings where education was being imparted to a large number of students. The school, now called “Tuskegee Institute”, remains as a monument to his life’s work inspite of the fact that he died in 1915.
He wrote numerous valuable books, inter alia, his book “Up from Slavery” is, perhaps, the most popular amongst the people.