Booker T. Washington was born into slavery on April 5th, 1856. His mother worked as a cook for James Burroughs, a plantation owner. His father was an unknown white man. During his time of growing up, teaching slaves to read and write was illegal.

He and his mother moved to West Virginia where she married freedman, Washington Ferguson. Booker later took his stepfather’s first name as his last. In 1866, Washington worked for the Viola Ruffner, a wife of a coal mine owner. She noticed his intelligence and allowed him to go to school for an hour a day. In 1875, Washington graduated from Hampton. He was offered a job there.

In 1881, a “colored” school was approved for Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institue (known today as Tuskegee University). General Samuel C. Armstrong was asked to find a white male to run the school but Booker T. Washington was the only man that came to his mind.

At first, class was held in an old church. Washington stayed at Tuskegee Institue until he passed away from congestive heart failure on November 14th, 1915. He was only 59-years-old.


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