BTW A Leader And A Scholar Essay

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BTW A Leader And A Scholar Essay, Research Paper Booker T. Washington was a Black man living during the later half of the Nineteenth Century when Black men were thought to be inferior and not in any way educated or influential. Through incredible persistence he changed attitudes towards southern Blacks. His achievements helped uplift a poor race into prominence and forever changed relations between the Black and White races. The very fact that he started from a life of slavery and poverty and accomplished so much, makes his efforts that much more important. Born on April 5, 1856 in Franklin County Virginia, Washington developed a taste for education and knowledge early on in his life. Because of slavery his mother was very poor. He could not go to school and could not afford

any books to learn from. His father lived on another plantation and did not visit at all, so he did not help Booker in any way. Through most of his childhood, Washington and his brother John, and sister Amanda could barely get enough food to survive. Their mother would get molasses from the ?Big House? and cook this meager meal in a pot. They still needed more food and their mother would sneak out when they were all asleep and ?steal? a chicken, cook it and give to her family. Washington did not know where it came from, but he did know that if she got it from the plantation, it was not ?stealing?, because they needed the food to live. ?I remember that at one time I saw two of my young mistresses and some lady visitors eating ginger-cakes, in the yard. At the time those cakes

seemed to me to be absolutely the most tempting and desirable things that I had ever seen. (10, Up from Slavery, by B. T. Washington) At this time it is evident that he had very low aspirations. One time he carried books for his mistress to and from school. He saw all of the other children in the schoolhouse and wished that someday he too could learn in such a way as that. Around this time a man from a Northern Army battalion came to the plantation and read the Emancipation Proclamation to a gathering of slaves. Washington did not understand the significance of the document, but knew that it must be something good because his mother had been praying for it a long time. After their freedom was announced, many of the slaves left the plantation to test if they could actually leave.

However, after a few months most would return worse off, mentally and financially, than before they left. These unfortunate slaves realized that, besides picking cotton or other meager trades, they had no other way of supporting themselves. Washington saw this and resolved that he must in some way get an education so that he could support himself, and not end up like these wayward ex-slaves. Shortly after his experience with the Emancipation Proclamation, Washington?s mother got a letter from his stepfather, instructing the family to journey to Malden, West Virginia. With what little belongings they had, the family picked up and made the long journey. After residing in Malden for a while, Washington began attending a local Negro school. The family needed money, so he could not

attend this school regularly, and he had to start working in the coal mines nearby. When he was in the mines he found out about a boarding school called the Hampton Institute. Washington was extremely exited about this potential opportunity to gain knowledge. His mother only gave him a half-hearted consent calling it a ?wild goose chase?. During the next year and a half he worked at the home of General Lewis Ruffner. Under the constant supervision of Mrs. Ruffner, Washington gained valuable experience for life, work, and the importance of a job well done. After making enough money working for Mrs. Ruffner, he began the journey to Hampton — full of promise. The journey to the Hampton institute back then was partly by train and mostly by stagecoach. Washington had to stop