Up from Slavery is an autobiography by Booker T. Washington that details the struggles that Booker T. Washington had to go through in his bid to get an education. As depicted in the book, the fact that Washington’s family was poor was one of the leading frustrative factors that hindered him from getting an education. His hope to achieve an education would also be thwarted by the fact that he was born of slave parents (which essentially rendered him a slave); at the time, in was illegal for slaves to receive education.
Convinced that his local school had no place for black people, Washington took got involved as a miner where he one day heard some miners talk about Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in Virginia. Washington later took up a job at Mrs. Ruffner’s house. At Mrs. Ruffner’s house, Washington learnt how to be keep things clean and tidy; ideally the sweeping skills he learn at Mrs. Ruffner’s house helped him get admitted into college without any formal examination given to him. He later managed to secure a place at Hampton. In the book, Washington admits learning several guiding principles at Hampton; principles like selflessness, and the pivotal role of the bible to humans. On going home after two years at Hampton, Washington recounts how he always stood up to talk to the congregation (and speaking in several campaigns) about the importance of the guiding principles that he learnt in Hampton. It should also be noted that Washington upheld a unique and intriguing notion of what makes up a true gentleman. To him, it was easy to tell a true gentleman from the way someone interacted with people of an inferior race than his. To illustrate this, Washington always referred to a story always told of George Washington lifting his hat in response to a black man who lifted his hat to him in greeting.
Chapter 10 of Washington’s book is titled A Harder Task than Making Bricks without Straw. A careful view of this chapter by anyone leads to the realization that developing confidence in one field often leads to developing confidence in another, most probably, unrelated field. Again, in this chapter, Washington emphasizes the need for perseverance and consistency in doing things as one of the assured ways achieving success.
Chapter 10 of the book is followed by a chapter that Washington called “Making Their Beds before They Could Lie on Them” in which he traces the development of the Tuskegee school and the continued recognition that he receives throughout the South. In this chapter, Washington also highlights some of the economic, political, and moral reverberations for the white community as a result of abusing the African Americans. Washington asserts that a while who injures an African American there is a likelihood that he or she will end doing the same to a white. Essentially, Washington meant that any white inflicted damage to an African American (be it economic, political, or moral), there is a great chance that the white will do the same to a fellow white.
The most notable speech that Washington ever gave was the Atlanta Exposition speech; a speech that derives its importance from the fact that it served as the foundation for the Atlanta compromise which assured southern blacks of an education. Besides using it to continue his efforts in pleading for the cause of the African Americans, the speech pushed him to becoming an important African American personality besides making him vulnerable for criticisms that can be perceived to be threats to his profession. Notwithstanding, Booker is still remembered globally for his illustrious ideas about education. For instance, Booker perceived education so be very valuable. In his book, he wrote that “I determined, when quite a small child, that, if I accomplished nothing else in life, I would in some way get enough education to enable me to read common books and newspapers” (Washington, 1901, p. 34). He also thought of industrial education as means of instilling self-reliance in learners when he wrote ““My plan was not to teach them to work in the old way but to show them how to make the forces of nature- air, water, steam, electricity, horse-power- assist them in their labor” (Washington, 1901, p. 150).
Washington, B. T. (1901). Up from slavery; an autobiography,. New York: Doubleday, Page & Co.