Essay the story of all stories

Submitted By dannykrypto
Words: 1185
Pages: 5

Born in Virginia in the mid-to-late 1850s, Booker T. Washington put

himself through school and became a teacher. In 1881, he founded the

Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Alabama (now known as

Tuskegee University), which grew immensely and focused on training

African Americans in agricultural pursuits. A political adviser and writer,

Washington clashed with intellectual W.E.B. Du Bois over the best avenues

for racial uplift.

Born to a slave on April 5, 1856, Booker Taliaferro Washington's life had

little promise early on. In Franklin County, Virginia, as in most states prior

to the Civil War, the child of a slave became a slave. Booker's mother,

Jane, worked as a cook for plantation owner James Burroughs. His father

was an unknown white man, most likely from a nearby plantation. Booker

and his mother lived in a one-room log cabin with a large fireplace, which

also served as the plantation’s kitchen.

At an early age, Booker went to work carrying sacks of grain to the

plantation’s mill. Toting 100-pound sacks was hard work for a small boy,

and he was beaten on occasion for not performing his duties satisfactorily.

Booker's first exposure to education was from the outside of school house

near the plantation; looking inside, he saw children his age sitting at desks

and reading books. He wanted to do what those children were doing, but

he was a slave, and it was illegal to teach slaves to read and write.

After the Civil War, Booker and his mother moved to Malden, West Virginia,

where she married freedman Washington Ferguson. The family was very

poor, and 9-year-old Booker went to work in a salt mine with his stepfather

instead of going to school. Booker's mother noticed his interest in learning

and got him a book from which he learned the alphabet and how to read

and write basic words. Because he was still working, he got up nearly every

morning at 4 a.m. to practice and study. At about this time, Booker took the

first name of his stepfather as his last name, Washington.

In 1866, Booker T. Washington got a job as a houseboy for Viola Ruffner,

the wife of coal mine owner Lewis Ruffner. Mrs. Ruffner was known for

being very strict with her servants, especially boys. But she saw something

in Booker—his maturity, intelligence and integrity—and soon warmed up to

him. Over the two years he worked for her, she understood his desire for

an education and allowed him to go to school for an hour a day during the

winter months.

In 1872, Booker T. Washington left home and walked 500 miles to

Hampton Normal Agricultural Institute in Virginia. Along the way he took

odd jobs to support himself. He convinced administrators to let him attend

the school and took a job as a janitor to help pay his tuition. The school's

founder and headmaster, General Samuel C. Armstrong, soon discovered

the hardworking boy and offered him a scholarship, sponsored by a white

man. Armstrong had been a commander of a Union African-American

regiment during the Civil War and was a strong supporter of providing

newly freed slaves with a practical education.

Armstrong became Washington's mentor, strengthening his values of hard

work and strong moral character.

Booker T. Washington graduated from Hampton in 1875 with high marks.

For a time, he taught at his old grade school in Malden, Virginia, and

attended Wayland Seminary in Washington, D.C. In 1879, he was chosen

to speak at Hampton's graduation ceremonies, where afterward General

Armstrong offered Washington a job teaching at Hampton. In 1881, the

Alabama legislature approved $2,000 for a "colored" school, the Tuskegee

Normal and Industrial Institute (now known as Tuskegee University).

General Armstrong was asked to recommend a white man to run the

school, but instead recommended Booker T.