In today's society in the United States, education is a right that is expected to be given to every child; however, the early 1900s showed that education was a privilege given to the wealthy and more commonly, the white. In “Up From Slavery,” author Booker T. Washington recounts the story of his life from the day of his birth until late adulthood. Throughout his life, arguable one of his biggest impacts was his ability to promote the education system for underprivileged African Americans through forging deals with whites that gave their support after offered a deal. His ability to focus on appealing to white's interests in order to move forward the advancement of the black community. Beginning on a plantation in Franklin County, Virginia, Washington's vision of education leaves a legacy that influenced an infinite number of American Americans and drove steps toward racial equality in the United States.
After Emancipation and the end of the Civil War, Washington grew up with his family in Virginia where his stepfather obtained a job at a salt-furnace. Fresh out of slavery, life was initially difficult but his step-father's labor at the furnace gave young Washington a taste of education. Soon after, he was gifted a spelling book from his mother and teaches himself the alphabet; his education continues when a black man from Ohio arrives in town and offers his literacy services as a teacher for the areas African American population, and from here Washington truly begins to grow academically. When a school in a nearby town holds day and night classes, he begins to attend everyday after work until hearing of another, more advanced school for African American students. From this point, Washington decides that he will attend the Hampton Institute one day when he saves up the funds. Rather than continuing to work at the salt-furnace, he obtains a new job as a servant for the owner's wife, Mrs. Ruffner, who teaches him the mannerisms of the privileged: hygiene, punctuality, and order. At this time, Washington also creates his first library and eventually has the chance to attend the Hampton.
After a long travel to Richmond, Virginia, Washington went through the journey of being rejected from a hotel due to his race and being forced to sleep on the sidewalk during nights after working in the day. When he finally arrives at the Hampton, the state of his appearance and grimy clothing give off a disheveled first impression and multiple students are admitted ahead of him as a result. It is not under later when he is told to leave and sweep another room, which Washington accomplishes so impressively that he is awarded a job as a janitor to pay for his schooling expenses.
Later, Washington and his family face the death of his mother, which causes dismay in the family and nearly keeps him from returning to the Hampton. However, his desire to learn pushed him to continue and he eventually graduates then returns to Malden, where he opens a school for black students. Unique to other schools, Washington's curriculum extends past “book education” and include teachings on grooming, behavior, and industry. After two years, he takes time to further his education in Washington D.C before returning to Hampton as a teacher and begins teaching Native American students traditional academics along with how to assimilate into white society.
Washington's success grabs him an invitation to head a newly opened school in Alabama, however in his first few months, he must hold class in a shanty as no proper building was available. Over time, he is able to buy an old plantation for his students and they fix the building into classrooms. In order to make Tuskegee self-sustaining, they planted crops to utilize during the year; these experiences in student labor soon became part of the school's foundation, and each student had skills of the trade of industry. As Washington often travelled North to raise money, he developed the image of a public speaker and leader for African Americans, receiving invitations to speak at various events. His most well-known speech at the Atlanta Cotton States and International Exposition develop his views on racial advancement and uplift. He urges former slaves to break out of racial segmenting and fight political agitation, strictly for business reasons.
When Booker T. Washington and Olivia A. Davidson founded the Tuskegee institute; the school did not have the standard curriculum for black students, the institute pushed the enterprise of African Americans through economic development, agricultural and industrial skills. Their programmes were taught by black teachers, to students who would eventually return to rural communities and spread their knowledge. Washington fought to support African American education in the south during a time when it was threatened by constitutional prohibition limiting funding. Southern states were hesitant to approve legislation that would improve black education. As a result of White reluctance, at the beginning the school only received a small state subsidy of $2,000 and a further amount raised through fundraising. It proved to be nearly impossible to negotiate with the south for aid in the Tuskegee philosophy. The state of Alabama offered mere contribution of $4,000 in 1900 and in Tuskegee's study of funding in 1910, one hundred and sixty blacks contributed $1,203.07 while twenty southern whites volunteered only a $73.20. Northern visitors to their campus were greeted by huge exhibitions created by students as Tuskegee and graduation ceremonies were so grand they brought philanthropists, educators and journalists that looked to hear the fruits of the famous Booker T. Washington's arguments. Presidential visits, such as from William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, saw large parades of Tuskegee students on wagons that showcased their vocational skills and the influence of Tuskegee developed on the race. Washington displayed his campus as a successful social experiment that allowed whites to watch the progress of its students and their application of philanthropic generosity. The school's success continued as it made the most at any time to secure every dollar it had dollar.
Washington's efforts for the advancement of African American interests were tailored to keep agitation out of southern black communities, to do so, programs were implemented and allowed for the progress of the southern black citizens. The inability for Black participation in political rights dictated that in order to move forward, African Americans would have to look within. Reform through law considered was futile, and southern white's chosen way of displaying supremacy was through violence. Despite this, Washington was able to gain anorthern white following, publicizing that two thirds of his time was used looking for northern financial support, he put in a tireless effort to secure funding. Tuskegee developed into a self marketing mechanism, organizing a sophisticated fundraising office, publicity campaign and catalogue of northern whites on amicable terms with the school. Courting white philanthropy in the north became a necessity, and the school's publications highlighted the principles practiced on campus while quartets toured the north and west for funds as a way to make Tuskegee shine over competition for philanthropic dollars.
African American progress at the end of the nineteenth century for leadership meant that one would need to manifest themselves as someone who would not agitate whites yet further black fortunes whenever possible. Washington's leadership was tailored to appease whites while supporting a second class status for blacks; this mentality caused some to argue that Washington's rise to power was a result of being chosen by whites to lead blacks. His ability to give off such a positive image enabled other African Americans to idolize him as a leader of their race.
Washington ends his life reflecting on the legacy of Tuskegee, but the biggest legacy was left by himself. His work shone through at a time when groups such as the Klu Klux Klan, the White League, and the Red Shirts made education for African Americans a deed that they could be killed over. Within a timeline of two decades, Washington showed tremendous success, from teaching on an old plantation and creating a school from genuine scratch, to creating a historically black university in Tuskegee, Alabama that displayed over a hundred buildings, an even larger faculty of black men and women, a student body of people from all over the world, and eventually receiving an endowment of almost two million dollars. The crowd of graduates from Tuskegee University are most commonly seen as his principal legacy, yet he also used his position and influence as Frederick Douglass's successor after the Civil War to direct sums of money to charities from philanthropists like Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and Julius Rosenwald in a number of the nation's fellow black institutions and issues. Washington's goals for the black community was centered around respect; black people the world over are not respected so his plans focused on empowering the race (economically, socially, etc) as one while not angering the whites whose support was also needed to move forward. The issue that was present during the time were the differing philosophies about what to do for the future. Washington's autobiography translates that to be accepted meant to be empowered by the group as a whole, to be accomplished through economic and legislative ways.
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