Booker T. Washington


Booker T. Washington was a well-known African American speaker, author, civil rights leader and educator. He was born in 1856 in Virginia and into slavery. He would later become one of the most recognized voices in the black community that fought for blacks to have educational and economic opportunities for advancement in society. He had plenty of views on how things should be even though blacks didn’t always agree. He became an advisor to a number of United States presidents and played important roles in political and cultural aspects of society.


One of his courage acts included one of his first speeches made at Tuskegee University in 1895. This is a historical black college that had attention brought to it when lynching were a problem throughout the south of the United States. When Washington gave his speech he mentioned he didn’t want people to try and challenge laws in place that supported segregation. He also referred to laws that made it difficult for blacks in the south to vote. It was known he secretly support actions that challenged segregation by the court. He supported people doing for themselves and getting an education, no matter your color. But other activists such as W. E. B. DuBois would challenge his theories.


The NAACP was formed in the early 1900s. This along with other activists would challenge Washington’s theories on how minorities should move forward and political views on the country. At one point, Washington became so influential he was able to manipulate media audiences and strategize to his advantage. He made things better for people that supported him such as personal friends, while contributing to negativity toward people that did not support his views. One political element and goal he had was to challenge disfranchisement of blacks in the south.


Washington was an educator at Tuskegee University and traveled across the country giving speeches. He encouraged blacks to work hard if they expected to do better for themselves and move up from slavery. He was an adviser to presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. Washington founded a number or group organizations that helped make a difference during the rise and fall of Jim Crow era. Washington authored a number of books that provided more insight for African Americans that followed him. When President Woodrow Wilson took office, Washington’s influence fell since President Wilson wasn’t in line with the same beliefs. Wilson managed to make segregation in the US even deeper than before.

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