Up From Slavery Summary CBSE Class 11 English Novel
Booker T. Washington was born on 5 April, 1856. He was an African-American educator, author and advisor to Republican presidents. He was born in Hale’s Ford, Virginia. His mother was a slave and father was white. He dominated the African-American community in the United States from 1890 to 1915. He urged a programme of gradual development for blacks and emphasised training in the techniques of agricultural and industrial production. These policies soon brought him into conflict with W.E.B. Du Bois and other black leaders. Du Bois attacked him for not taking a sufficient forceful stand on disenfranchisement in the South and criticised him for promoting vocational instruction at the expense of liberal education. Washington overcame all hurdles and obstacles and enjoyed incredible fame despite severe criticism because of his ability to convince others and gain support of innumerable groups viz. influential whites, the black business, educational and religious communities nationwide. He also enticed philanthropists to donate money and act according to the then political, social and economic conditions. His contribution to education was incredible and substantial. Washington wrote 14 books. It includes the Future of the American Negro, (1899), Sowing and Reaping (1900), Character Building (1902), Working with the Hands (1904), The Story of the Negro (1909) and The Man Farthest Down (1912). His biography is widely considered to be a pioneering work in the field. His autobiography, Up From Slavery was first published in 1901. It is one of the widely read works today. During the transition phase, Washington put in tremendous efforts to improve the working relationship between the races. His dedication and selfless work assisted the negroes to achieve higher education, financial power and thorough understanding of the US legal system. This contributed to blacks’ attaining the skills to create and support the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, which paved the way for federal civil rights laws. Washington got national prominence due to his oratorical skills. His Atlanta Address in 1895 was a source of fascination to politicians and public. It made him a popular spokesperson for African-American citizens. His persistent endeavours for the upliftment of his race brought the desired results. Washington opined that the only way for blacks to enjoy equal social rights was to demonstrate “industry, thrift, intelligence and property”. He took his last breath on 14 November, 1915.
During his lifetime, Booker T. Washington was a national leader for the betterment of African Americans in the post-Reconstruction South. He advocated for economic and industrial improvement of Blacks while accommodating Whites on voting rights and social equality. This approach, however, died with Washington, and its success prior to 1915 was largely due to Washington’s adept method of tailoring his speaking and writing to suit the race of his audience. His commanding presence and oratory deeply moved his contemporaries. The complexity and
contradictions of his life make his autobiography intellectually intriguing. He is popularly known as the ‘Sage of Tuskegee’ or the ‘Black Moses’. One of his prominent biographers, Louis R. Harlan, called him the “Wizard of the Tuskegee Machine.’ Some of his contemporaries acknowledge him to be a complicated person and public figure.
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Summary in English
Up From Slavery is a serialised account of his life. It is an autobiography. In Up from Slavery, Washington traces his journey from slave to educator. The early sections document his childhood as a slave and his efforts to get an education, and he directly credits his education with his later success as a man of action in his community and the nation. The pitiable and miserable condition of the slaves on plantations is the hallmark of the initial chapters of the autobiography. Washington has given the details of his life candidly and the description is picturesque. He opines that “the most trying ordeal that I was forced to endure as a slave boy was the wearing of a flax shirt.” It is a bare fact that the blacks were exploited and tormented in America. But Washington portrays their character in a different way. The sympathetic attitude of the Negroes towards their masters before and dining war is exceptional. “This tenderness and sympathy on the part of those held in bondage was a result of their kindly and generous nature.” The reason of establishing the institution of slavery was not humane. “It was established for selfish and financial reasons.” The description of the scene of Emancipation Proclamation Day is lively. Washington considers this emancipation “freedom of the body in this world.” The boyhood days of Washington are full of misery, sorrow and disappointment. He struggles hard to grow and hone his inbred skills. West Virginia’s native residents are portrayed as “the poorest, most ignorant and degraded”. The place is called “a motley mixture.” He works in a salt-mining and earns his livelihood. But his incredible curiosity to explore new horizons does not get satisfied in the salt-mining. So, Washington joins the night school to acquire knowledge. His desire to pursue education despite the life’s hardships deserves attention. His resolves that because “I had no ancestry myself I would leave a record of which my children would be proud, and which encourage them to still higher effort.” He does not wish to work for the coal mine. The principal reason of this is to remain clean. Those who work for coalmine remain unclean. Washington comes to know about the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in Virginia and develops an irresistible desire to join it. He starts his journey to Hampton. He reaches the city of Richmond, Virginia and finds that he is out of money. He requests the captain of vessel to permit him to unload the vessel so as to get money for food. He pleases the captain with his sincerity, honesty and industrious nature. Fortunately, he is admitted to the Institute and given the responsibility of janitor. He meets General Samuel C Armstrong. Washington calls him a perfect man and the noblest and rarest human being.
Washington details his transition from student to teacher, and outlines his own development as an educator and founder of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. He determines “to remove the great bulk of these people into the country districts and plant them upon the soil, upon the solid and never deceptive foundation of Mother Nature, where all nations and races that have ever succeeded have gotten their start.” Armstrong invites Washington to return to Hampton partly as a teacher and partly to pursue some supplementary studies. He tells the story of Tuskegee’s growth, from classes held in a shanty town to a campus with many new buildings. He intends to impart a different kind of education with a different perspective. He opines, “we wanted to give them such an education as would fit a large proportion of them to be teachers, and at the same time cause them to return to the plantation districts and show the people there how to put new energy and new ideas into farming, as well as into the intellectual, moral and religious life of the people.” He manages to purchase the mansion house or “big house” worth only five hundred dollars. He seeks help of the white to erect buildings and meet out the other expenses of the school. He provides the Negroes with the practical education as making bricks and mastering the art of a mason.
He aims “not only to have buildings erected by the students themselves, but to have them make their own furniture.” His experience in getting money for Tuskegee teaches him “to have no patience with those people who are always condemning the rich because they are rich, and they do not give more to objects of charity.” He goes from door to door to collect money for the school. He begins his public-speaking career at the meeting of Educational Association in Madison. In this address he advises the Negroes to become indispensable for the community in which they live. They should harness their skills, sharpen their intellect and prove their mettle in the battle of life. He teaches them to do a common thing in an uncommon manner. He tells them that if they want to be respected, they will have to learn to produce what other people want and must have.
In the final chapters of Up From Slavery, Washington describes his career as a public speaker and civil rights activist. Washington includes the address he gave at the Atlanta Cotton States and International Exposition in 1895, which made him a national figure. He is invited in Atlanta to accompany a committee from that city to Washington for appearing before the committee of Congress in the interest of securing Government help for the Exposition. In his address he says that “One third of the population of the South is of the Negro race. No enterprise seeking the material, civil, or moral welfare of this section can disregard this element of our population and reach the highest success… No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem.” He suggests his community that “it is the bottom of life we must begin, and not at the top.”
He candidly confesses that the Negroes should not give vent to their grievances to overshadow their opportunities. He criticises and condemns the agitation and demonstrations to get social equality. He confidently and boldly says that “no race that has anything to contribute to the markets of the world is long in any degree ostracised.” His oratorical skills and making his presentation without any inhibition make him a grand success. Mr Clarke Howell, the Editor of the Atlanta Constitution wrote, “I do not exaggerate when say that Prof Booker T. Washington’s address yesterday was one of the most notable speeches, both as to character and as to the warmth of its reception, ever delivered to a Southern audience. The address was a revelation. The whole speech is a platform upon which blacks and whites can stand with full justice to each other.”
In chapter 15, Washington discusses his secret of success in public speaking. He explains the significance of pauses, breathing and pitch of voice. His experience says that an average audience wants facts rather than generalities or sermonising. The speakers who tell stories simply for the sake of telling anecdotes do not get success in this field. Washington becomes a great orator and the representative of the community of Negroes.
He concludes his autobiography with an account of several recognitions he has received for his work, including an honorary degree from Harvard, and two significant visits to Tuskegee, one by President McKinley and another by General Samuel C. Armstrong. He also mentions the success of the Institution that he establishes. He has written, “At the present time the institution owns twenty three acres of land, one thousand of which are under cultivation each year, entirely by student labour. There are now upon the grounds, counting large and small, sixty six buildings; and all except four of these have been almost wholly erected by the labour of our students.”
Summary in Hindi
Up From Supery उनके जीवन की घटनाओं का वर्णन करता है। यह एक आत्मकथा है। Up From Slauery में वाशिंगटन दास से शिक्षक तक की यात्रा को चित्रित करता है। शुरू के भागों में उसके बचपन में दास होने और शिक्षा प्राप्त करने के प्रयास का वर्णन है तथा वह अपने लोगों और देश में अपनी कामयाबी का श्रेय शिक्षा को देते हैं। उनकी आत्मकथा के प्रारंभिक अध्यायों में Plantation पर रह रहे दासों की दयनीय और दुखी हालत को दिखाया गया है। वाशिंगटन ने अपने जीवन की घटनाओं को खुलकर दर्शाया है। उनका मानना है कि जब वह दास थे तो उनके लिए सबसे बड़ी समस्या Flax की कमीज पहनना था। यह एक तथ्य है कि काले लोगों का अमेरिका में शोषण होता था और उन्हें सताया जाता था। परन्तु वाशिंगटन उन्हें एक अलग तरीके से चरितार्थ करते हैं। हवशियों का अपने स्वामी के प्रति युद्ध से पहले और युद्ध के दौरान सहानुभूति रखने का रवैया असाधारण है। “कोमलता और सहानुभूति दिखाना इन दासों की कृपा और उदार प्रकृति का एक परिणाम था।” गुलामी की संस्था की स्थापना के कारण मानवीय नहीं थे। “यह स्वार्थी और वित्तीय कारणों के लिए स्थापित किया गया था।” मुक्ति उद्घोषणा दिवस का दृश्य जीवंत है।
वाशिंगटन इस मुक्ति को “इस दुनिया में शरीर की स्वतंत्रता समझता है”। वाशिंगटन के बचपन के दिन दुख और निराशा से परिपूर्ण हैं। वह आगे बढ़ने के लिए कठिन संघर्ष करता है तथा अपने कौशल का विकास करता है। पश्चिमी वर्जीनिया के लोगों को ‘गरीब, सबसे अज्ञानी और अपमानित” के रूप में चित्रित किया गया है। इस जगह को ‘एक पवमल मिश्रण” कहा जाता है। वह एक नमक खनन में काम करता है और अपनी आजीविका कमाता है। लेकिन नए क्षितिज का पता लगाने की कभी न समाप्त होने वाली उसकी जिज्ञासा नमक खनन से संतुष्ट नहीं हुई। इसलिए Washington रात्रि के स्कूल में ज्ञान अर्जित करता है। उसकी जीवन में इतनी कठिनाईयाँ होने के बावजूद उसकी पढ़ने की जिज्ञासा ध्यान देने योग्य है। वह निश्चय करता है कि “क्योंकि मेरा कोई वंश नहीं था परन्तु मैं अपने बच्चों के लिए एक ऐसा रिकॉर्ड छोड़ दूँगा जिससे वे गौरवान्वित होंगे और वह उन्हें और अधिक प्रयास करने के लिए प्रोत्साहित करेंगे।” वह कोयले की खान के लिए काम नहीं करना चाहता। इसका प्रमुख कारण स्वच्छ रहना है। जो कोयले की खान के लिए काम करते हैं वे अस्वच्छ रहते हैं | Washington को Virginia में Hampton Normal और Agricultural Institute का पता चलता है और वह उसमें दाखिला लेने की इच्छा रखता है। वह Hampton जाने की यात्रा शुरू कर देता है। वह Virginia के एक शहर Richmond पहुँचता है और पाता है कि उसके पास पैसे समाप्त हो गए हैं। वह जहाज के कप्तान से जहाज का सामान उतारने की प्रार्थना करता है ताकि वह खाने के पैसे कमा सके। वह अपनी कर्मठता, ईमानदारी और मेहनत से कप्तान को खुश कर देता है। सौभाग्य से वह संस्थान में दाखिला पा लेता है और उसे चौकीदारी की जिम्मेदारी दे दी जाती है। वह General Samuel C Armstrong से मिलता है। Washington उसे एक पूर्ण मनुष्य तथा नायाब इंसान बताता है।
Washington छात्र से शिक्षक होने तक का विवरण देता है और अपने शिक्षक होने तक के विकास का तथा अलबामा में Tuskegee Institute के संस्थापक होने का वर्णन करता है। वह निश्चय करता है कि इन लोगों को देश के उन जिलों में रहने के योग्य बनाएंगे और उस जमीन पर बसाएंगे जो ठोस हैं और भ्रामक ठोस नींव पर हैं जहाँ पर सभी देशों और जाति के लोगों ने सफलता पाने की शुरूआत की है। Armstrong, Washington को शिक्षण और अनुपूरक अध्ययन के लिए आमंत्रित करता है। वह Tuskegee के विकास के बारे में बताता है कि कैसे वहाँ झोंपड़पट्टी के परिसर में नई इमारतें बनाई जाती है। वह एक भिन्न प्रकार की शिक्षा एक अलग दृष्टिकोण से प्रदान करना चाहता है। उसका विचार है कि वह उनको ऐसी शिक्षा देना चाहता है जिससे वो शिक्षक बन सकें और साथ ही साथ यह भी चाहता है कि वो Plantation जिलों में वापिस जाएं और लोगों को दिखाएं कि कृषि में नई उर्जा और नए विचारों को कैसे इस्तेमाल किया जा सकता है। इसके साथ वो लोगों के बौद्धिक, नैतिक एवं धार्मिक जीवन में नई ऊर्जा का संचार करना चाहते हैं। वह पाँच सी डालर में एक हवेली या “Big house” खरीद लेते हैं। वह स्कूल के खर्चे वहन करने और नई इमारत बनाने के लिए अश्वेतों की सहायता लेता है। वह हबशियों को व्यावहारिक शिक्षा प्रदान करता है जैसे-ईटें बनाना और इमारत बनाने की कला में माहिर बनाना। वह चाहते हैं कि “न केवल छात्र इमारत स्वयं बनाए बल्कि अपना फर्नीचर भी वो स्वयं ही निर्मित करें।” Tuskegee के लिए पैसा जुटाने का अनुभव उन्हें सिखाता है कि “जो लोग अमीरों से अमीर होने की वजह से नफरत करते हैं क्योंकि वो दान नहीं करते गलत हैं।”
वह स्कूल के लिए पैसा जुटाने घर-घर जाते हैं। वह मैडिसिन में शैक्षिक एसोसिएशन के बैठक से अपने सार्वजनिक अभिभाषण के कैरियर की शुरुआत करते हैं। इस संबोधन में वो हबशियों को जिस समाज के वो हिस्से हैं अपरिहार्य होने का सुझाव देते हैं। उन्हें अपने कौशल को विकसित करना चाहिए, अपनी बुद्धि को तेज और जीवन की लड़ाई में अपनी क्षमताएँ साबित करनी चाहिए। वह उन्हें एक साधारण कार्य असामान्य तरीके से करने की शिक्षा देते हैं। वह कहते हैं कि अगर वो सम्मान चाहते हैं तो उन्हें वह उत्पादन करना सीखना होगा जो लोग चाहते हैं और उन्हें मिलना चाहिए। Up From Slauery के आखिरी अध्यायों में वाशिंगटन एक सार्वजनिक वक्ता और नागरिक अधिकार कार्यकर्ता के रूप में अपने कैरियर का वर्णन करता है। वाशिंगटन 1895 में अटलांटा (संयुक्त राज्य अमेरिका) और अन्तरराष्ट्रीय प्रदर्शनी में दिए सम्बोधन के बारे में बताते हैं जिसने उन्हें पूरे राष्ट्र में प्रसिद्ध किया। उसे अटलांटा में प्रदर्शनी के लिए सरकार की मदद हासिल करने के हित में कांग्रेस की एक समिति के समक्ष प्रदर्शित करने के लिए उस शहर से वाशिंगटन के लिए एक समिति के साथ आमंत्रित किया जाता है। अपने संबोधन में वो कहते हैं कि दक्षिण की आबादी के एक तिहाई लोग नीग्रो हैं। कोई भी संस्था जो तरक्की चाहती है हमारी जनसंख्या के इस तत्व की उपेक्षा नहीं कर सकती और सर्वोच्च सफलता नहीं प्राप्त कर सकता कोई जाति सफलता हासिल नहीं कर सकती जब तक यह नहीं सीख लेती। जमीन की जुताई करना भी उतना ही महत्वपूर्ण है जितना कविता लिखना। वह अपने समुदाय को सुझाव देता है कि “हमें जीवन की शुरुआत नीचे से करनी होती है शीर्ष से नहीं।”
उन्होंने खुलकर कहा कि नीग्रोज को अपनी शिकायतों को अपने अवसरों पर भारी नहीं पड़ने देना चाहिए। वह सामाजिक एकता प्राप्त करने के लिए आंदोलन और प्रदर्शनी की आलोचना और निन्दा करते हैं। आत्मविश्वास से भरपूर वे कहते हैं कि “कोई ऐसी जाति नहीं है जिसने दुनिया के बाजार में अपना योगदान न दिया हो और बहिष्कृत हुई हो।” उनके वाक्पटुता और बिना किसी अवरोध के अपनी प्रस्तुति देने की कला ने उन्हें सफल बनाया है। Mr. Clarke Howell, Atlanta Constitution के संपादक लिखते हैं इसमें कोई अतिश्योक्ति नहीं होगी अगर मैं कहूँ कि Booker T Washington का कल का संबोधन चारित्रिक रूप से और लोगों की पसंद को ध्यान में रखते हुए दक्षिण के लोगों के समक्ष दिया गया सबसे उल्लेखनीय भाषण था। संबोधन तथ्यों की अभिव्यक्ति पर आधारित था। पूरा भाषण एक मंच है जिस पर गोरे और काले पूरे न्याय के साथ एक दूसरे के लिए खड़े हो सकते हैं।
15 वें अध्याय में Washington अपनी मंचों पर बोलने की सफलता के रहस्य की चर्चा करते हैं। वह बोलते समय रुकने के महत्व, साँस लेने और आवाज की पिच के बारे में बताते हैं। उनका अनुभव कहता है कि एक साधारण दर्शक तथ्य चाहता है ना कि उपदेश। जो वक्ता कहानियाँ सिर्फ कहानियाँ सुनाने के लिए सुनाते हैं इस क्षेत्र में सफलता प्राप्त नहीं करते। Washington एक महान वक्ता एवं हबशियों के समुदाय के प्रतिनिधि बन जाते हैं। वह अपनी आत्मकथा को, बहुत सारे इनाम जो उन्हें प्राप्त हुए हैं और हार्वर्ड की मानद उपाधि तथा राष्ट्रपति Mckingley और Samuel C Armstrong द्वारा महत्वपूर्ण दौरे के साथ समाप्त करते हैं। वह जिस संस्था की स्थापना करते हैं उसकी सफलता का उल्लेख भी करते हैं। वह लिखते हैं कि “वर्तमान समय में संस्था के पास तेइस एकड़ जमीन, जिसमें से एक हजार प्रतिवर्ष खेती के लिए प्रयोग में लाई जाती हैं। यह कार्य विद्यार्थी करते हैं। अब वहाँ जमीन पर, छोटी बड़ी साठ इमारतें हैं जिनमें से चार को छोड़कर सभी को छात्रों के श्रम द्वारा बनवाया गया।
A Slave Among Slaves
Washington’s Birth and Parentage: Washington was bom into slavery to Jane, an enslaved woman, and a white father. He was bom near a cross-roads post-office called Hale’s Ford. His mother had little time to pay heed to her children during the day as she was the plantation cook. She spared some time for them either in the early morning or at night after completing her work. He had two siblings. John was his elder brother and Amanda was his sister. He did not know anything about his real father.
His mother was simply another unfortunate victim of the institution which the Nation had engrafted upon it at that time.
Plight of Slaves: The condition of slaves was miserable and pitiable. Their cabins in which they were living were mutilated and could not save them from the chilly air of winter. The cabins were without glass windows. They were poverty-stricken and did not have enough to eat. They were exploited by the whites, who were their masters. Children were bound to work for their masters. No system of education was prevalent in the society. They used to get meals as dumb animals get theirs. It was a piece of bread here and a scrap of meat there. The plight of Negroes was terribly shocking. The inhuman treatment of the whites made them ignorant of their human rights. The usual diet for slaves was com, bread and pork. Thus, their life was full of hardships and sorrows.
Emancipation Proclamation: The system of slavery was based on the principles of anti- humanistic approach. The slaves became very happy when they were set free. Washington believed that it was “freedom of the body in this world.” They rejoiced and celebrated their freedom. On the day of Emancipation Proclamation, the whites had a feeling of deep interest or perhaps sadness, on their faces. But they did not display bitterness. The blacks also did not show resentment or anger. They got relieved of their duties given to them by masters of “big houses”.
Washington’s Migration to West Virginia: After emancipation, the residents of the plantation planned to go from there. Washington’s stepfather sent for his mother to come to the Kanawha Valley, West Virginia. They walked several hundred miles to reach West Virginia. It was a tedious journey and a painful undertaking. The moment of departing from the former owners was irksome. They had been travelling for several weeks and they slept in the open air. They cooked over a log fire out-of-doors. Eventually, they reached their destination.
Plight of People at West Virginia: Washington’s stepfather secured a job at a salt furnace and he also managed to own a little cabin for them to live in. The new house was not better them the one they had on the old plantation in Virginia. This new town cedled Malden was situated eunidst salt furnaces. The residents of Medden were coloured people and some were “the poorest and most ignorant and degraded white people”. It was a motley mixture. Drinking, gambling, quarrels, fights and shockingly immoral practices were their characteristics. Washington was also forced to work in one of the furnaces. The condition of the Negroes was not better there. They were leading a life full of frustration and depression. ‘
Washington’s Desire to Learn: Washington developed an intense longing to learn to read. He planned that “if I accomplished nothing else in life, I would in some way get enough education to enable me to read common books and newspaper.” He requested his mother to bring a book for him. She procured an old copy of Webster’s “blue black” spelling book which contained the alphabet. He also joined the night school. Washington suffered throughout his life because he had no ancestry. But he resolved that he would pave the way for his children. They would feel proud of him.
Washington’s Fear of Working in the Coal Mine: Washington did not wish to work for the coal mines. He always dreaded and despised it. He opined that those who worked for coal mines remained unclean. It was a very hard job to get one’s skin clean after the day’s work was over. Another reason of his fear was that “it was a mile from the opening of the coal mine to the face of the coal, and all, of course, was in the blackest darkness. The work was not only hard but also dangerous. Those who began life in a coal-mine were physically and mentally dwarfed. So he did not wish to work there.”
The Struggle For An Education
Washington’s Indomitable will to join Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in Virginia: Washington comes to know about Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in Virginia. He heard someone say that “not only was the school established for the members of any race, but the opportunities that it provided by which poor but worthy students could work out all or a part of the cost of a board, and at the same time be taught some trade or industry.” He was keenly interested in going to Hampton at the earliest. He was on fire persistently with this ambition. He increased his working horns in the coal-mine for a few months. He also worked for Mrs. Viola Ruffner at a salaiy of $5 per month. He learnt lessons in cleanliness at her residence. She also encouraged him to get an education. He developed his library. He secured a dry-goods box and knocked out one side of it. He put some shelves in it and began putting his books into it. He got half hearted consent from his mother.
The Arduous Journey to Hampton: Washington started his journey to Hampton. It was about five hundred miles. He, somehow, managed to reach the city of Richmond, Virginia. It was about eighty two miles from Hampton. When he reached there, he was exhausted, tired, dirty and hungry. He did have a single penny. He did not know anyone there. Nobody allowed him to stay in the inn or hotel. He became disheartened. He crept under the sidewalk and lay for the night upon the ground. His satchel of clothes played the role of a pillow. The next morning he pleaded the captain of the vessel to permit him to help unload the vessel in order to get money for food. The captain was kind-hearted and consented. He pleased the captain so well that he asked him to continue his work. Washington kept spending his nights under the same sidewalk that gave him shelter the first night and saved some money. Fortunately, he reached Hampton.
Turning Point of Washington’s Life: Washington made sincere efforts to get admitted to Hampton. He confronted the head teacher and strove hard to impress her. But she did not say anything and admitted other students. After some time she asked him to clean the recitation room. Washington’s positive attitude turned that assignment into a golden opportunity. He cleaned the room and furniture. She inspected the floor and closets. But she could not find dirt. Eventually, she remarked, “I guess you will do to enter this institution. Washington knew no bounds and felt delighted”.
He was given the responsibility of a janitor. He gladly accepted and discharged his duties with utmost care. The work was hard but he did that. He met General Armstrong whom he considered the perfect man. Armstrong left an indelible impression on Washington. At Hampton Washington propounded his theory of education. He conceived that “there is no education which one can get from books and costly apparatus that is equal to that which can be gotten from contact with great men and women.” All students worshipped Armstrong. Life at Hampton took Washington into a new world. He earned and studied at Hampton.
Washington’s Financial Position at Hampton: Washington’s financial position at Hampton was very poor. He owed the institution sixteen dollars. So, he desired to save enough money during the summer so that he could pay his debt. He economised in every possible way but could not save sixteen dollars. He went to the treasurer of the Hampton Institute and told him his condition. General JFB Marshall told him that “I could reenter the institution, and that he would trust me to pay the debt when I could.” In this way he continued his stay at Hampton.
His Eagerness to harness his skills: The most valuable thing that Washington learnt was the use and significance of the Bible. He learnt to love to read the Bible. He mastered the art of oratory because of Miss Lord. She delivered him private lessons in the matter of breathing, emphasis and articulation. The debating societies at Hampton were a source of fascination to Washington. These were held on each Saturday evening and he never missed any meeting. He was instrumental in organising an additional society. He formed this society to utilise the twenty minutes between supper and evening study. They derived happiness from the use of those twenty minutes.
Death of his Mother: Washington returned to Virginia after two years. His mother and other members of the family were happy. He was in search of work but could not find. There was no work on account of the strike. So, he went to a place at considerable distance from his home, to find employment. He could not succeed. He was returning home but could not walk any farther. He decided to take rest in an abandoned house. There he got the sad news of his mother’s demise. That was the saddest and blankest moment of his life. After the death of his mother chaos and confusion prevailed in the house. Amanda was too young to cook food. They were not in a position to hire a housekeeper. Washington writes “Our clothing went uncared for, and everything about our home was soon in a tumble-down period.” Advantages of Studying at Hampton: Washington thought that one of the advantages of studying at Hampton was to meet Armstrong—“the rarest, strongest and most beautiful character”. Second, at Hampton, he learnt what kind of education was beneficial to an individual. He came to know that it was not a disgrace to labour. He liked to labour not only for financial gains but also for labour’s own sake. One had to become independent and self- reliant. He was given lessons to live a life of unselfishness. He acquired the knowledge that “the happiest individuals are those who do the most to make others useful and happy.”
Ku Klux Klan: The “Ku Klux” were bands of men who were pledged to regulate the conduct of coloured people. Their principal objective was to prevent the members of the race from exercising any influence in politics. They were all white men. They operated almost wholly at night. They burnt schools and churches. They made many innocent persons suffer. Their sole purpose was to crush out the political aspirations of the Negroes. Washington felt that “the Ku Klux period was the darkest part of the Reconstruction days.”
The Reconstruction Period
Reconstruction Period and Baseless Policy: The Reconstruction Period was from 1867 to 1878. During this period, people were crazy to learn Greek and Latin. They also desired to hold office. They felt the knowledge of Greek and Latin languages would make them a superior human being. Most of the people who received some education became teachers and preachers. Washington thought that the Reconstruction policy was formulated on a false foundation. It was artificial and forced. It was formed to use as a tool so that white men could be helped to enter into office. Washington felt convinced that his race would suffer for this in the end. Comparison between Hampton and Washington DC: Washington decides to pursue his studies at Washington after teaching in Malden for two years. He stayed at Washington for eight months. At this school students had no financial problems. They were better dressed and wore the latest style of clothes. At Hampton students were to pay for their board, books, clothing and room wholly by work, or partly by work and partly in cash. The pupils developed their character and became industrious. The education imparted at Washington DC did not impress Booker T. Washington. He said, “They knew more about Latin and Greek when they left school, but they seemed to know less about life and its conditions as they would meet at their homes.”
Plight of Women at Washington DC: The plight of women at Washington DC was tragic. The elderly women earned their living by laundrying. They got their daughters admitted to school. These girls were taught by their mothers. These girls entered the public schools and remained their perhaps six or eight years. After completing the public school course, their wants used to become unlimited. On the other hand, they forgot the occupation of their mothers also. The result of this was that most of the girls went astray. Washington feld disheartened because he never intended to impart this kind of education.
Black Race and Red Race
Washington’s Opportunities to Grow: Washington got ample opportunities to excel in the field of public speaking and teaching. He received an invitation from a committee of three white men in Charleston to canvass the state in their interests of the city. He accepted the proposal and addressed people in various parts of the state. He was also invited by General Armstrong to Hampton at the next commencement to deliver the “post-graduate address”. They readily consented and chose for his subject “The Force That Wins”. He was also asked by Armstrong to return to Hampton partly as a teacher and partly pursue some supplementary studies. The General desired him to act as “house-father” to the Indian young men. He accepted that challenging task and succeeded.
Perception of People towards American Negroes and Indians: The attitude and outlook of the native residents of the place towards Negroes was biased. The caste system in America was very potent. Once Washington took an Indian boy to Washington. During his journey to Washington, on a steamboat he waited for others to finish their meal. Then he entered the dining room. The man in charge politely informed him that the Indian could be served, but he could not be served. After reaching the hotel at Washington he came to know that they could allow the Indian into the house, but they could not accommodate him. These incidents show their biased attitude.
Early Days at Tuskegee:
Armstrong’s Proposal to Washington to run a school in Albania: Armstrong recommended Washington’s name to the gentleman in Albania. They assented to his proposal and Washington was asked to reach Albania at the earliest. His responsibility was to run a school at Tuskegee. It was an ideal place for the school as it was amidst the Negro population. It was a secluded place as it was five miles from the main fine of railroad. He reached Tuskegee in June, 1881. He examined and observed the general nature and tendency of the native residents. He found that condition of people was really critical and deplorable. He also noticed the poor state of schools.
Teaching School in a Stable and a Hen House:
Washington’s Theory of Education: Washington knew all the ins and outs of the Nigroes’ actual life. He wanted to improve their condition. He understood the paramount significance of the wisdom of the system which General Armstrong followed at Hampton. The people of his race did not want bookish knowledge. Giving fragmentary information of these poverty-
stricken people would not be suffice. It would be merely a waste of time. He wanted to give them hands-on learning. To alleviate their sufferings, he decided to give them vocational training so that they can earn their livelihood with ease.
Initiation of the School at Tuskegee: Washington started the school on 4 July 1881 in the shanty and church. He was helped to establish the school by two persons. One was a white man, Mr. George W Campbell; the other was a black man, Mr. Lewis Adams. Washington got thirty students on the very first day. He was the only teacher. After six months, Washington got the support of Miss Oliva A Davidson. They intended to give them “such an education as would fit a large proportion of them to be teachers, and at the same time cause them to return to the plantation districts and show the people how to put new energy and new ideas into farming, as well as into the intellectual, moral and religious life of the people.” Arrangement for Tuskegee Institute’s Building: Washington heard about the sale of an old and abandoned plantation which was situated about a mile from the town of Tuskegee. It was the mansion house or “big house”. The owner of the house demanded only five hundred dollars. But Washington had no money. The owner of the land agreed to accept two hundred and fifty dollars initially and the remaining two hundred and fifty dollars would be paid within a year. Washington got this payment from JFB Marshall, the Treasurer of the Hampton Institute.
Plans Devised by Miss Davidson to Repay Loans: Miss Davidson planned to hold festivals or “suppers” to raise funds. She made a personal canvass among the white and coloured families and made them agree to give something. Several festivals were raised but a little sum of money could be reused.
Anxious Days and Sleepless Nights:
Christmas Celebrations in Alabama: Washington got a golden opportunity to get a farther insight into the real life of the people on the momentous occasion of Christmas. The children knocked the door of the residents asking for Christmas gifts. There was a widespread hilarity and a free use of guns, pistols and gunpowder. Drinking was very popular during this festive season. Washington went out of the town to visit the people on one of the large plantations. Their poverty and ignorance fprced them to celebrate this festival according to their financial position.
Favourable Attitude of the Whites towards the Tuskegee Institute: The attitude of the white people became favourable towards the Tuskegee Institute. Washington made sincere efforts to convince the whites that the school was the part of the community. They wanted to make white friends in Tuskegee. The school was established with a view to render selfless service to all the people. No policy of the Institute was biased. In this way, Washington got the support of the white people.
Miss Davidson’s Role in Raising Funds: Miss Davidson played a vital role in raising funds. She went to North for the purpose of securing additional funds. She visited individuals, spoke in churches and visited Sunday schools. This work was tiring and embarrassing. She got a bank note for fifty dollars from a Northern lady. She was very interested in the effort being made at Tuskegee. A lady from Boston sent them six thousand dollars when they were in dire need of money. Miss Davidson left no stone unturned to provide the Institute with funds.
Washington’s First Marriage: Washington married Miss Fannie N. Smith of Walden during the summer of 1882. She was a graduate of the Hampton Institute. She also worked constantly in the interest of the school. She discharged her family responsibilities faithfully. She took her last breath in May 1884. She begot one child named Portia M. Washington.
A Harder Task Than Making Bricks Without Straw:
Educational Philosophy at Tuskegee: Washington meticulously planned to harness the students’ agricultural and domestic‘skills. He also intended to make them perfect in the art of a mason. He was desirous of teaching them the latest and best methods of labour. It was essential for his race to believe in the dignity of labour. Many advised him not to seek the students’ help in erecting buildings. But he strictly adhered to his principles. He opined that “Mistakes I knew would be made, but these mistakes would teach us valuable lessons for the future.”
The Experience of Making Bricks: Washington was determined to make bricks with the help of students. It was not an easy task to stand in the mud-pit for hours. Some students left the school. But Washington was a man of principles and he had the strength of character. They moulded about twenty five thousand bricks and put them into kiln to be burnt. This kiln turned out to be a failure. They tried three times but they failed. They did not have even a single penny. Washington mortgaged his watch and got fifteen dollars. He wanted to resume the brickmaking experiment with the amount. They made the fourth attempt and succeeded. The white people also bought bricks from them. “Many white people who had had no contact with the school, and perhaps no sympathy with it, came to us to buy bricks because they found out that ours were good bricks.”
Making Their Beds Before They Could Lie on Them
General Armstrong’s First Visit to Tuskegee: General Armstrong received a warm welcome at Tuskegee not only from the Negroes but also from the Southern White people. Washington got another opportunity to learn from Armstrong’s character. He came to know about the fact that Armstrong cherished no bitterness against the South. He wrote about Armstrong that “he was as anxious about the prosperity and happiness of the white race as the black.” He learnt from him that “great men cultivate love and only little men cherish a spirit of hatred.”
Lack of Infrastructure at Tuskegee: Washington confronted an acute problem of lack of infrastructure. The number of students increased incredibly and the school could not provide them with sleeping accommodation even. So, they rented a number of cabins near the school. These cabins were in a dilapidated condition and students could not safeguard themselves from cold during the winter season.
Washington’s Positive Image: Students at Tuskegee respected and honoured Washington from the bottom of their heart. They never complained and constantly asked him what they might do to lighten the burden of teachers. Students did not allow Washington to do some manual labour. It would be pertinent to quote Washington’s words here: “The students do not seem to want to see me carry a large book or a satchel or any kind of burden through the grounds.” He got respect in the whites also.
Armstrong’s Invaluable Help in Raising Money: The total strength of students of Tuskegee constantly increased. Washington prepared the preliminary sketch of the required building. They needed about ten thousand dollars. Armstrong invited Washington to spend a month travelling with him through the North. On reaching there he found that General had decided to take a quartette of singers through the North and hold meetings for a month in important cities, at which they were to speak. Washington was surprised to know that the meetings were to be held in the interests of Tuskegee and the expenses were to be borne by the Hampton Institute.
Washington’s Decision of Going from Door to Door: Washington decided to go from door to door to raise funds. He found this work “hard, disagreeable and costly in bodily strength.” Once he was humiliated by the husband of a wealthy lady. But he also received a generous sum from the next door. Mr. Andrew Carnegie donated twenty thousand dollars for erecting a new library building. Washington requested him to help in erecting that new building. He was also surprised to receive money from three special sources. First the State Legislature of Alabama increased its annual appropriation from two thousand dollars to three thousand dollars. Second, they received one thousand dollars from the John F. Slater Fund. Third, the Peabody Fund gave five hundred dollars.
Two Thousand Miles for A Five Minute Speech:
Establishment of a Night School: Some intelligent and industrious students started seeking admission to the Institute but they were so poor that they could not afford to pay the meagre charges at the school. It disturbed Washington’s peace of mind to refuse admission to these applicants. So, he established a night school in 1884 to accommodate some of them. The night- school was run following the rules and pattern of Hampton. Nearly a dozen students joined it. The condition of admitting students at the night school was that they must have no money to pay any part of their board in the regular day school. They must work for ten hours during the day at some trade or industry and study academic branches for two hours during the evening.
Washington’s First Public Speech: Washington received an invitation from Thomas W. Bicknell to deliver an address at the next meeting of the Educational Association. It was to be held in Madison. He accepted the invitation with a view to encourage the cultivation of friendly relations between the Negroes and the whites. He said in his address that “the whole future of the Negro rested largely upon the question as to whether or not he should make himself, through his skill, intelligence, and character, of such undeniable value to the community in which he lived that the community could not dispense with his presence”. “Washington’s oratorical skills enticed the audience and he became famous in the North.”
His Invitation from Atlanta: Washington was invited in Atlanta to accompany a committee from that city to Washington for the purpose of appearing before a committee of Congress to secure Government help for the Exposition. It was decided that a separate Negro exhibit would be held and the officials asked Washington to shoulder this responsibility. Several newspapers criticised the idea of giving opportunity to Washington to speak.
The Atlanta Exposition Address:
Washington’s Address at Atlanta: Washington spoke confidently and boldly. He mesmerised the audience with his invaluable thoughts. He said, “One third of the population of the South is of the Negro race. No enterprise seeking the material, civil, or moral welfare of this section can disregard this element of our population and reach the highest success.” He encouraged both races to have firm faith in the dignity of labour. His words “No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem” reveal that his approach was positive. He advised his people to start the journey of success from the bottom and not to allow their grievances to overshadow their opportunities to excel in life. He clearly said that “no race that has anything to contribute to the markets of the world is long in any degree ostracised.” Washington advised both races to abolish sectional differences and racial animosities to administer absolute justice. Washington became a national figure after this address. His words got appreciation from every nook and cranny.
Criticism of Washington’s Address at Atlanta. The coloured people got extremely annoyed at Washington’s liberal remarks toward the southern whites. They felt convinced that he did not speak about their ‘rights’ forcibly. Hé also received the letters of condemnation. They were of the opinion that Washington must retract or modify his words. Many newspapers also joined in the general chorus of condemnation. But Washington did not utter a word of explanation or retraction.
The Secret of Success in Public Speaking:
Attributes of an Orator: Washington was an eloquent and an orator. He mastered the art of speaking in public. He accepted the fact of suffering intensely from nervousness before speaking. He said, “There is a thread of sympathy and oneness that connects a public speaker with his audience.” The speaker must not digress. He should not tell an anecdote simply for the sake of telling one. He believed that the speaker must not speak merely for the sake of speaking. He considered of an injustice to the audience. One should pay attention to pauses, breathing and the pitch of voice but not at the cost “of soul in an address”. He said, “When I have an address to deliver, I like to forget all about the rules for the proper use of the English language, and all about rhetoric and that sort of thing …”. He advised to make the address interesting by citing factual instances instead of delivering a sermon.
Invitation to Deliver an Address in 1897: Washington received an invitation to deliver an address at the dedication of the Robert Gould Shaw monument in Boston in 1897. He readily consented. His address electrified the gathering there.
Chicago Address: Washington was invited by President William R Harper, University of Chicago to deliver his address at the peace celebrations. He delivered two addresses during the Jubilee Week. The first one was the principal address. The auditorium was packed. There were nearly sixteen thousand persons. He thanked the President for his recognition of the Negro in his appointment during the Spanish-American War. The whole audience rose and cheered. They waved handkerchiefs, hats and canes.
Washington’s Favourite Past Time: Washington was a workaholic. He always kept himself busy. He never remained on leave in nineteen years. Newspapers were a constant source of delight and recreation to him. He was fond of reading biographies. His patron saint in literature was Abraham Lincoln. He used to enjoy the most at Tuskegee. After evening meal, his wife and three children used to sit together. He kept a number of pigs and fowls. He delivered a great deal of pleasure in serving them. His favourite animal was pig. He did not play games. He said, “A game of old fashioned marbles with my two boys, once in a while, is all I care for in this direction.”
Washington’s Marriage: Washington was married to Miss Margaret James Murray in 1893. She belonged to Mississippi. She was a graduate of Fisk University, Nashville. She joined Tuskegee Institute as a teacher. When they were married, she was the principal. She shouldered all responsibilities and relieved Washington of many burdens and perplexities. She also managed to run a woman’s club at the school which brought together the woman who lived on the school grounds and those who lived near. She was the President of the Federation of Southern Coloured Women’s Club and was the chairman of the Executive Committee of the National Federation of Coloured Women’s Club.
Washington’s Children: Portia was his daughter. She learnt dress making. She had usual ability in instrumental music. She was studying at Tuskegee and simultaneously she was teaching there. Booker Taliaferro was his son. He was quite young. He mastered the brickmason’s trade. He said that he would become an architect and brickmason. Earnest Davidson Washington was his youngest son. He wanted to be a physician. He was practising with their resident physician. He learnt to do many of the studies pertaining to a doctor’s office.
Washington’s Tour to Europe: Mr. Francis J Garrison raised a sum of money sufficient to pay all expenses of the tour to Europe. He was asked to go with his wife for three or four months. Washington was not given any chance to escape from the trip. It was a ‘dream come true’ for Washington. He always regarded Europe, London and Paris heaven on Earth. They went to New York on 9 May to set sail. Portia came to see them off. The passengers on the ship also requested Washington to deliver an address in dining room. He agreed to do so.
Washington’s Idea of England: Washington was veiy happy to see that the people of all classes had regard for law and order. They did everything with ease and thoroughness. The Englishmen took plenty of time for eating. They were philanthropic by nature and were habitual of putting in sincere efforts in everything. His impression was that they spent money freely and had a “good time”. Washington said, “The average Englishman is so serious, and is tremendously in earnest about everything, that when I told a story that would have made an American audience roar with laughter, the Englishmen simply looked we straight in the face without even cracking a smile.”
General Armstrong’s Visit: General Armstrong was stricken with paralysis. But he expressed a wish to visit Tuskegee again. His limbs stopped working and he became practically helpless. He was brought to Tuskegee. The General was given a “pine-knot torchlight reception”. When Armstrong’s carriage entered the school premises, he began passing between two lines of lighted and waving “fat pine” wood knots by over a thousand students and teachers. The whole thing was so novel and astounding that he was delighted. In the paralytic condition he spent every hour in devising ways and means to help the South. Washington got inspiration from him and said, “if a man in his condition was willing to think, work and act, I should not be wanting to further the every possible way the wish of his heart.”
Award of An Honorary Degree to Washington: Washington was surprised to receive a letter from Charles W Eliot, President Harvard University. The University desired to confer on him an honorary degree on June 24. It was the degree of Master of Arts. A Boston paper wrote that “Mr Washington is the first of his race to receive an honorary degree from New England University. This, in itself, is a distinction. But the degree was not conferred because Mr. Washington is a coloured man, because he was bom in slavery, but because he has shown, by his work for the elevation of the people of the Black Belt of the South, a genius and a broad humanity which count for greatness in any man, whether his skin be white or black.”
President McKinley’s Visit to Tuskegee: Washington met Mr McKinley and requested him to visit the Institute to enlighten the students. He said that “a visit from the Chief Executive of the Nation would not only encourage our students and teachers, but would help the entire race.” He did not make any promise to visit the Institute but he would think about it. Eventually, the President promised that he would visit the Institute on 16 December. People of Tuskegee were very happy to know that Mr McKinley was coming to the Institute. They decorated the town from the station to the school beautifully. He appreciated Booker T. Washington in his address and said that he was “an accomplished educator, a great orator and a true philanthropist.”
Present Status of Tuskegee: The Institute started by Washington in a broken down shanty and an old hen-house owns twenty three hundred acres of land, one thousand of which are under cultivation each year, entirely by student labour. It has, large and small, sixty six buildings and all except four of these have been almost wholly built by the students. While students are at work upon the land and in erecting buildings, they are taught, by competent instructors, the latest methods of agriculture and the trades connected with building. There are thirty industrial departments. Students are given academic and religious training simultaneously. The value of the property is now over $700,000. If endowment fund is added to it, the total value is now $1,700,000. Washington started organising an annual gathering at Tuskegee. It was called the Negro Conference. This conference brings to school eight or nine-hundred representative men and women of the race.
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