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Booker T. Washington

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Booker T. Washington

Booker T. Washington dedicated his book to his wife Margaret James Washington and to his brother John H. Washington. He tried to tell a simple story with no embellishment, he felt that it was done so imperfectly. Booker T. Washington wrote his book while working for the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute. He wrote much of his book in his spare time from work, on trains, in hotels, or railroad stations; and with the help of Max Bennett Thrasher.

Booker T. Washington was born a slave on a plantation in Franklin County, Virginia. Sadly, he did not know his exact date or place of birth. The only thing he knew was that he was born near a post office called Hale's Ford in 1858 or 1859. His life began in the midst of what he described as the most miserable, desolated, and discouraging surroundings. His slave owners were not cruel. His home was a log cabin, 14x16 square ft. with his mother, brother, and sister till after the civil war, when they were declared free.

He knew almost nothing of his ancestors. As a young boy he heard whispered conversations among coloured people of the tortures which slaves, including his ancestors on his mother's side. In the days of slavery not very much attention was given to family history or family records, especially black family records. Booker T. Washington knew nothing about his father; only what he heard that he was a white man who lived on one of the near-by plantations. Booker T. Washington's memories of his mother's cooking or training her children was a very little, she seemed to snatch a few minutes before or after work. He and his siblings had never even slept on a bed until after they were declared free by the Emancipation Proclamation; they had only slept on a bundle of dirty rags on the dirt floor. When asked about sports as a boy it occurred to him that he had never had time to play, all of his life was devoted to working the farm in some way.

Booker T. Washington gave himself the last name Washington. His mother had given him the name Booker Taliaferro after he was born, but he didn't know that until after going to school and thinking he needed another name other than just Booker. So he kept the "T" from Taliaferro and continued living his life as Booker T. Washington.

However, his name and family wasn't the only thing he thought about. Booker T. Washington often pondered on the thought of what it would be like to be white. He always spoke about how much easier life was for the white man or white youth. He later confessed that he did not envy the white boy as he once did. Mr. Washington later realized that how he would begin at the bottom and keep rising until he reaches the highest round of success. He later said "From any point of view, I had rather be what I am, a member of the Negro race, than be able to claim membership with the most favoured of any other race.



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