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Booker Taliaferro Washington (April 5, 1856 – November 14, 1915) was an American educator, orator, author and leader of the African-American community. He was freed from slavery as a child, gained an education, and as a young man was appointed to lead Tuskegee Institute, then a teachers' college for blacks. From this position, he rose into a nationally prominent role as spokesman and leader for African Americans. He was successful in building relationships with major philanthropists to contribute to education at Tuskegee and for public schools for black children in the South, as well as to donate to legal challenges to segregation and disfranchisement. From 1895-1915 he was the most powerful African-American man in the nation. Washington did much to improve the overall friendship and working relationship between the races in the United States.

Washington was the dominant figure in the African-American community in the United States from 1890 to 1915, especially after he achieved prominence for his "Atlanta Address of 1895". To many politicians and the public in general, he was seen as a popular spokesperson for African-American citizens. Representing the last generation of black leaders born into slavery, Washington was generally perceived as a credible proponent of education for freedmen in the post-Reconstruction South. Throughout the final 20 years of his life, he maintained his standing through a nationwide network of core supporters in many communities. His autobiography, Up From Slavery, first published in 1901, is still widely read today.

The above information is based on the Washington article on Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, based on the GNU Free Documentation License.


The Booker T. Washington papers digital archive, University of Illinois Press searchable index to complete annotated text of all important letters to and from Washington and all his writings.

Booker T. Washington National Monument

read Up From Slavery online

African American Odyssey: The Booker T. Washington Era a detailed Library of Congress exhibit on Washington's life, work and influence on American culture.

Legends of Tuskegee from the National Park Service

Listen to Booker T. Washington's Atlanta Address (1895)

Booker T. Washington website for teachers and children


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