Booker Taliaferro Washington was born onApril 5, 1856 in Franklin County, Virginia near across-roads post-office called Hale’s Ford. Hewas an American educator and a black leader.
When Booker was a child he worked in coalmines for nine months a year and spent the otherthree attending school. In 1875 he graduatedafter working his way through Hampton Institute.
In 1881 he became the first president ofTuskegee Institute, a trade school for blacks thatlive in Alabama. When the Tuskegee Institutefirst opened it had only one teacher, about fiftystudents and 2,000 dollars a year from the stateof Alabama. By it’s 25th anniversary underWashington’s leadership, the school had morethan 1,500 students, training in 37 industries.
In 1882 Booker got married to Miss FannieN. Smith of Malden, West Virginia. Fannie died inMay of 1884. One child, Portia M. Washington,was born during their two year marriage. In 1885Booker married Miss Olivia Davidson. Later onafter four happy years of marriage Miss OliviaDavidson died in 1889. Two children had beenborn while they were married Booker Taliaferro Jr.
and Ernest Washington. In 1893 he was marriedto Miss Margaret James Murray, a native ofMississippi, and a graduate of Fisk Universitylocated in Nashville, Tennessee.
Although Washington lived during a time inwhich his race was widely discriminated against,he recommended training black people for tradesto build up their economic position beforefighting for their integration and equality. Hebelieved that black people advance only if theywere educated. In 1895 Booker presented his views in aspeech at the Atlanta Exposition, he rapidlygained the attention of white leaders. He becamepowerful in channeling contributions to blackcauses and in getting blacks appointed to federaljobs. He advised presidents Theodore Rooseveltand William Howard taft on racial matters. Booker’s greatest surprise was the letter he receivedfrom Harvard University on May 28, 1896 inviting him tothe approaching Commencement, an honorary degree onJune 24. In the summer of 1900 with the assistance of Mr.
T. Thomas Fortune he organized the National NegroBusiness League which brought together lots of coloredmen engaged in many lines of business from different partsof the United States. Booker died on November 14, 1915six years after Booker died Miss Margaret died in 1925.