Booker T. Washington was born April 5, 1856 to a slave woman named Jane. After emancipation, they moved to be with Booker’s father inWest Virginia. He soon enrolled in Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute and later the Wayland Seminary. Both places, he worked to pay for his schooling and left in 1878.
In 1881, he became the Tuskegee Institute’s leader where he rose to prominence as a brave and courageous civil rights activist. He entered national spotlight in 1895 when he gave his infamous Atlanta Address. This pushed him into civil rights history as he soon became a great leader in the African-American community despite criticism and opposition from Democrats.
Ironically, he received criticism not just from Democrats, but also African-American leaders like WEB Dubois and leaders of NAACP, who criticized Washington for being “the great accommodator” of the white man. Washington answered this criticism by saying he wanted to bring whites and African-Americans together.
He found allies in the national Republican Party, whose leadership (including President Theodore Roosevelt) often sought political advice from him.
Aside from being a civil rights activist, he was also a prominent writer. His most famous work is Up From Slavery, an autobiographical piece.
Booker T. Washington passed away on November 14, 1915 due to congestive heart failure. He remains one of the most famous civil rights leaders and his legacy lives on.