Booker T. Washington



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 it?s 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 advised presidents Theodore Roosevelt

and William Howard taft on racial matters.

Booker?s greatest surprise was the letter he received

from Harvard University on May 28, 1896 inviting him to

the approaching Commencement, an honorary degree on

June 24. In the summer of 1900 with the assistance of Mr.

T. Thomas Fortune he organized the National Negro

Business League which brought together lots of colored

men engaged in many lines of business from different parts

of the United States. Booker died on November 14, 1915

six years after Booker died Miss Margaret died in 1925.