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Booker T Washington Booker T Washington was the first African American whose likeness appeared on a United States postage stamp Washington also was thus honored a quarter century after his death In 1946 he also became the first black with his image on a coin a 50-cent piece The Tuskegee Institute which Washington started at the age of 25 was the where the 10-cent stamps first were available The educators monument on its campus shows him lifting a symbolic veil from the head of a freed slave Booker Taliaferro Washington was born a slave on April 5 1856 in Franklin County Va His mother Jane Burroughs was a plantation cook His father was an unknown white man As a child Booker swept yards and brought water to slaves working in the fields Freed after the American Civil War he went with his mother to Malden W Va to join Washington Ferguson whom she had married during the war At about age 16 Booker set out for Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute which had been established by the chief of the Freedmens Bureau to educate former slaves He walked much of the way working to earn the fare to complete the long dusty journey to Virginia For his admission test he repeatedly swept and dusted a classroom and he was able to earn his board by working as a janitor After graduation three years later he taught in Malden and at Hampton A former slave who had become a successful farmer and a white politician in search of the Negro vote in Macon County obtained financial support for a training school for blacks in Tuskegee Ala When the board of commissioners asked the head of Hampton to send a principal for their new school they had expected the principal to be white Instead Washington arrived in June 1881 He began classes in July with 30 students in a shanty donated by a black
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