Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. Cyril Connolly (1903 - 1974)


Booker T - Black History Month & #GIVEAWAY

Booker T. Washington was born a slave in Franklin County, Virginia. His mother Jane was a cook for the plantation. He was biracial*, but he never knew his white father. He grew up in a small log cabin with a dirt floor. Each night a "pallet" was put on the floor for sleeping. Sometimes to feed her childen, Jane would take a chicken or eggs from the master's flock and cook them during the night.

Booker T. Washington
His clothing was made of flax* which would prick the skin like needles until the shirt had been worn for about six weeks. Once his brother John offered to wear Booker's shirt until it was softer. His first pair of shoes had wooden soles and coarse leather tops.

One of his duties as a boy was carrying sacks of corn to the mill on the back of a horse. If a sack fell off, he might wait for hours for someone to come along and replace it on the horse's back.

Mr. William Davis opened a school for colored children. Booker's parents permitted him to attend if he worked before and after school. He worked from 4:00 AM to 9:00 AM in the mines, then went to school half a day. After school he went back to the mines.

He said his first day at school was the happiest day of his life. When the teacher asked his name he said, "Booker". All the other children gave a first and last name, so Booker chose to take the name "Washington", his step-father's first name, as his second name. He later learned from his mother he did have a second name; Taliaferro.

He heard about the Hampton Institute in Virginia, a school for black boys and girls. He determined to go to the school. He got as far as Richmond and spent a few days there sleeping under a plank sidewalk at night and loading a ship during the day to earn money to buy food.

He arrived at Hampton Institute and the lady principal told him to sweep a room for her. He knew it was a test. He swept and dusted the room three times until not a speck of dirt remained. He was accepted into the school. He would work as the assistant janitor to pay for his room and board at the school.

After graduation he returned to his hometown, Malden, and became a teacher at the first school he ever attended. In the day school he had a class of 80-90 students. He also taught night classes and two Sunday schools. He encouraged several of his students to attend Hampton Institute. He also sent his brother John and adopted brother James to the school.

Mr. George Campbell, a prominent white man in Tuskegee, Alabama, wanted to start a school for black children in that town. General Armstrong recommended Booker for the position. The state legislature would give $2000 a year for the school. He started having classes in an old church and a run-down building. When it rained, one of the taller students would hold an umbrella over the teacher's head to keep him dry.

He was able to purchase farmland eventually totaling over 2,000 acres on which to build the school.

He married Fannie Smith and they had a daughter, Portia. Within the year Fannie passed away and did not get to see Portia grow up nor see the school succeed.
Tuskegee Institute 1916

Booker T. Washington, more than any other black man of his time, helped to elevate his people through education.

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About the author: Owner of JamericanSpice. Sharing my journey in the present, from the past or thoughts for my future. Mom of two who loves to travel and read and decipher people.
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1 comment :

  1. I have studied about Booker T. Washington before but I like your retelling of his story.

    Looks like I am too early for the 4M's. I will check it out later.
    ~Naila Moon


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