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.