In the days of slavery, not much detail was given to black family history and black family records. For this reason, Booker T. Washington knew little about his early childhood and exact details of his birth. He didn’t know the exact time nor the exact place but assumed it was in 1856 near Hale’s Ford, in Virginia. Washington remembers the dismal surroundings and the sad time it was for those of color. He didn’t know very much about his father, who was not a part of his life and who may have been white. His mother was a slave and plantation cook, who worked long and hard with little time for her children. Booker lived in an unkept cabin, sleeping on the floor on rags with his older brother John and his sister Amanda. There were no windows and his mother would steal food for them to eat late at night. There were never family dinners or prayer over food. There were scraps to eat and a piece of bread here and there. The shoes were wooden and shirts were made of flax. These shirts were very uncomfortable, kind of like a torture to wear until they were worn in. There was no time at all devoted to play because every minute there was work to do. Washington had to walk three miles from the plantation to the mill weekly to take corn to be ground. As a slave, he would carry water to men in the fields as well. There was no schooling, that would be paradise to him. Even though the slaves around Washington were not near any large city, railroad or newspaper, they knew of the Civil War and the main issue of slavery. They knew of battles won and lost. They did not feel bitterness against the whites and took good care of their masters. However, every slave wanted freedom. This is one thing that Booker T. Washington knew for sure.
Washington got his dream of becoming free. His family moved to West Virginia after they were liberated. However, Booker still had to work every day and it was not easy. He would wake up at 4 a.m. and work at the salt mine until 9. From there, he would go to school just to return to the salt mine from 2 to 9 at night. He would work a 12 hour day, but he liked it because he gained an education that helped him further in life. Soon he became friends with the founder of Hampton Institute. Because of this friendship, Washington was given a full scholarship to Hampton Institute. He could not have been happier. Hampton Institute was an industrial school that taught Booker T. Washington crafts and skills that made him, and other blacks, valuable to society. When he graduated in 1875, Washington attended Wayland Seminary for just under a year. While in school here, Washington’s belief of self-help was taught. His short stay at Wayland Seminary was followed by a teaching position at Hampton Institute. This was the beginning of Washington’s career as a powerful black leader. (Securing and Education…)
In 1880, the Alabama State Legislature established a school for blacks in Macon County. This school was name the Tuskegee Normal School for the training of Black teachers. Samuel Armstrong was selected to pick a white teacher who would be the principal of the school. However, Armstrong suggested that Washington should get the job. Washington was accepted and immediately began to advertise the school, recruit students, and sought the support of local whites. After the school opened in 1881, Washington, along with his 30 students, began to build classrooms, a chapel, and a girl’s dormitory. Within a few years, they were finished. Booker T. Washington took a school that was nearly nothing and turned it into a school with more than 400 students and training that focused in on many skills. Some of these skills included: carpentry, cabinetmaking, printing, and shoemaking. Women learned how to cook and sew. Washington wanted to emphasize manners and character building to help build a sense of pride and dignity within the student. He believed this would help them later in life as individuals and wanted his