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BOOKER T WASHINGTON Booker Taliaferro Washington was the foremost black educator of the later 19th and early 20th centuries He also had a major influence on the southern race relations and was the dominant figure in black public affairs from 1895 until his death in 1915 Born a slave on a small farm in the Virginia back country he moved with his family after emancipation to work in the salt furnaces and coal mines of West Virginia After a secondary education at Hampton Institute he taught an upgraded school and experimented briefly with the study of law and the ministry but a teaching position at Hampton decided his future career In 1881 he founded Tuskegee Normal and Industrial on the Hampton model in the Black Belt of Alabama Though Washington offered little that was innovative in industrial education which both northern philanthropic foundations and southern leaders were already promoting he became its chief black exemplar and spokesman In his advocacy of Tuskegee Institute and its educational method Washington revealed the political proficiency and accommodational philosophy that were to characterize his career in the wider arena of race leadership He convinced southern white employers and governors that Tuskegee offered an education that would keep blacks down on the farm and in the trades To prospective northern donors and particularly the new self- made millionaires such as Rockefeller and Carnegie he promised the instillment of the Protestant work ethic To blacks living within the limited distances of the post- Reconstruction South Washington held out industrial education as the means of escape form the web of sharecropping and debt and the achievement of attainable self-employment landownership and small businesses Washington acquired local white approval and secured a small state accumulation but it was northern donations that made Tuskegee Institute by 1900 the best-supported black educational institution in the country The Atlanta Compromise Address delivered before the Cotton States Exposition in 1895 enlarged Washingtons influence into the
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