WASHINGTON, Booker Taliaferro

Born: April 5, 1856, in Franklin County, Virginia, United States

Died: November 14, 1915, in Tuskegee, Alabama, United States

Booker Taliaferro Washington was an American writer who is most noted for his work among blacks. His writings are both respected and resented within the African-American community. His birthplace has been made into a national monument.

He was the son of a slave and a free man. After being freed during the Civil War, he worked as a miner to support his family and taught himself to read. He walked nearly five hundred miles to be one of the first students at Hampton Institute, a new school for blacks. He was a strong student and attended Wayland Seminary in Washington D.C.

Washington taught at various schools, including Hampton, occasionally. His work earned him the responsibility of organizing a normal school for blacks in Alabama, of which he was eventually made president. Today, this school is Tuskegee University.

In addition to his success in the educational field, he developed strong oratorical skills. He is famous for a speech in Atlanta in which he urged blacks to accept their social position, but to educate and train themselves for a higher position through economic independence. Reactions to his speech were mixed. Although he was generally accepted as the African-American spokesman, some felt that his words hindered their progress.

He was given honorary degrees from Harvard in 1896, and Dartmouth College in 1901, after which, he published his autobiography, Up From Slavery.