Booker Taliaferro Washington (1856-1915) was an African American
political leader, educator and author. He was one of the dominant
figures in African American history in the United States from 1890
to 1915. Born into slavery in Franklin County, Virginia, at the age
of 9, he was freed and moved with his family to West Virginia,
where he learned to read and write while working in manual labor
jobs. He later trained as a teacher, and in 1881 was named the
first leader of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. He was granted
an honorary Masters of Arts degree from Harvard University in 1896
and an honorary Doctorate degree from Dartmouth College in 1901. He
received national prominence for his famous Atlanta Address of
1895, attracting the attention of politicians and the public as a
popular spokesperson for African American citizens. In addition to
the substantial contributions in the field of education, Dr.
Washington did much to improve the overall friendship and working
relationship between the races in the United States. His
autobiography, Up From Slavery, first published in 1901, is still
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