Facts About Booker T. Washington's Life

Facts About Booker T. Washington's Life

A life of struggle has lessons to teach that go beyond the conventional textbook. Booker T. Washington was a man who used his experiences to script inspiring books, empower students and lead a life of a true icon.
Historyplex Staff
Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life, but as by the obstacles which he has overcome. ~ Booker T. Washington

Born to a slave mother and a white father, Booker T. Washington never saw his father. The circumstance of his birth became his first rendezvous with struggle which scripted some of the very interesting facts about Booker T. Washington's life. His life thereafter was a series of conflicts with the stifling living conditions of those times. However, it was his desperate need to seek knowledge and uplift the condition for his fellow mates that led him on the path of glory. The confines of a dingy log cabin and the roughness of flax clothing never daunted him. In fact, it was the misery of slavery that challenged him to be an eternal icon of hope.

Facts About Booker T. Washington

♦ Booker T. Washington was born on April 5, 1856 to a slave mother. His father was a white, who is believed to be a planter in the nearby region of southwestern Virginia.

♦ After being emancipated, at the end of Civil War in 1865, Booker went to West Virginia with his family where he worked in coal mines and salt mines. He worked here with his brother John.

♦ After noticing Booker's incessant desire to gain knowledge, his parents allowed him attend the school started by Mr. William Davis, provided he worked after and before the school. So, he worked at the mines from 4:00 AM to 9:00 AM and then went to school. He returned to mines diligently after his school was over for the day.

Booker T. Washington's step father's name was Washington, which is what he chose as his last name. However, he later found out that his last name was Taliaferro.

♦ He soon had to drop out of school and work full-time at the mines. This did put a halt to his formal education for a while.

♦ His next job, which is mother found for him, left an indelible impression on his mind. He began working as a bellboy with General Lewis Ruffner, whose wife was very strict in nature. Because he could not deal with her stern rules, he ran away to work as a waiter for a steamboat captain. It was when he realized he wasn't cut out for the job he returned to the General's household. Mrs. Ruffner accepted him and helped him out with further schooling.

♦ Booker stayed with the Ruffners for four years, during which he learned virtues of honesty and integrity. In later years, he referred to Mrs. Ruffner as his best friend.

♦ Upon learning about a school for black students in Virginia, he wanted to attended it at any cost. When he landed at Hampton Institute in Virginia, the principal asked him to sweep the floor. Patiently, he swept and dusted it clean. The impressed principal, admitted him in the institute, but asked him to pay his fees by working as a janitor.

♦ His excellent oratory skills were honed at Hampton, by Miss Nathalie Lord. Booker later was known for his legendary speeches, which echo even today.

♦ After he graduated he went back to the first school he had ever attended. He brought about dramatic changes by teaching night classes for students who had to work during the day.

♦ A man of great stature in Tuskegee, Alabama Mr. George Campbell saw his dream come true of starting a school for colored children with Booker's efforts. He gave Booker a grant of $2000 to start the school.

♦ The motto of this school was to empower children with vocational education. Thus the students had to construct buildings, make bricks, clear land by chopping trees and so forth.

♦ Booker T. Washington married thrice. His first marriage gave him one daughter and the second one gave him two sons.

♦ Noted people such as George Washington Carver and Andrew Carnegie took serious interest in adding value to Booker's school.

These facts about Booker T. Washington's life highlight Booker's undying spirit to revolutionize the education system for blacks. In times of baneful discrimination, he uplifted his people and empowered them to etch a better future for themselves. His incandescent passion for living a life, made him more than just a man who was born into slavery, which eventually led to the story of his life.