Free Booker T. Washington, Up From Slavery Book Review Sample
Type of paper: Book Review
Topic: United States, Washington, Education, America, Race, Democracy, Students, Slavery
Booker Taliaferro Washington was naturally introduced to a slave family in an estate in Hales Ford, Franklin County, in 1856 Virginia. Booker Taliaferro Washington would become a standout as one of the most compelling black pioneers during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. He sought to better race relations in the United States in the aftermath of the Civil War when slavery become outlawed. He primarily concentrated on the social, political, and economic improvement of blacks by founding various establishments that would facilitate the gradual progression towards racial equality and social justice. Washington called for economic freedom for African Americans within the fabric of the agricultural economy that defined the South. His dedication to correspondence was later viewed as a huge impact on dark financial advancement. In his autobiography Up From Slavery, Washington traces his development from his childhood growing up in Virginia, to his experiences as a slave during his formative adolescence, and ultimately into adulthood during which he made a conscious effort to ameliorate the oppressive conditions that African Americans continued to suffer under. Washington and his family moved to West Virginia where he performed a mixture of manual labor to support his family, a theme that would dominate his work later on. Washington was fortunate enough to receive an education, which influenced his seminal establishment of the Tuskegee Institute. Although famous for his accommodation brand of southern black conservatism that underscored pragmatism over idealism, Washington achieved much fame as an speaker who articulated the dire need for and significance of improving race relations for both whites and African Americans.
Despite his frail stature and young age, Washington worked on the salt mills with his stepfather because he felt an obligation to help contribute to his family's subsistence. He knew that although slavery was abolished, African Americans still remained second class citizens and would suffer from de facto segregation and discrimination in all facets of their lives. Indeed, the absence of a paternalistic master meant that African Americans no longer had any shred of protection from racist whites. Washington moved from working in the salt mills to laboring on a steamboat as well as in the coal mines following emancipation. Ultimately, he worked for a very scrupulous wife of Union General Lewis Ruffner who had previously dismissed several young men due to their lack of attention to detail. Washington, however, was determined not to be discharged like the rest. His tenure at her home was fruitful, as the family warmly accepted him into the household and even encouraged him to enroll in school to learn how to read and write.
Washington's childhood and adolescent experiences taught him that success could only be reached only by working harder than others to prove his worth. Indeed, the obstacles one must overcome undergirds one's success. When he turned sixteen, Washington left home and walked nearly one hundred miles to Hampton, Virginia from West Virginia in order to attend the school of his choice, Hampton Institute. He personified the conservative tenet of self-help and self-responsibility and personal accountability. Washington worked at the school as a janitor in order to pay for his tuition and support himself while also working harder than other students to achieve in the classroom. He applied this diligent work ethic to all of his endeavors. When he graduated from Hampton Institute, he realized that he had crystallized a personal ideology that yielded success for those who pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps. During his seminal speech at the Atlanta Exposition, Washington promulgated that black people needed to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” as he had done in order to advance social justice and improve race relations. Indeed, as a product of the Civil War and Reconstruction generation, Washington possessed trenchant skepticism of the legal and political rights afforded to African Americans. Racial terrorism and the erosion of legal and political rights in the South thus articulated time and again that economic advancement was the avenue through which African Americans could progress towards social, political, and economic equality.
In various speeches, Washington articulated his vision of black empowerment and racial equality by working as a collective within existing institutions. Such a collective racial enterprise was centered on the notion that education functioned as a critical component of a person's character. Rather than promote a traditional liberal arts education that whites embraced--and that blacks were denied from when slavery existed--Washington perceived education as a vehicle through which African Americans could acquire practical dexterity as well as cultivate a good work ethic. The primary arenas of a good education according to Washington was craft work and agricultural work because they called for meticulous attention to detail, routine, and workmanship. Thus, Washington eschewed elitism that characterized the liberal arts education during an epoch when a burgeoning industrial economy called for workers to become accountable for their labor. Industrial education, Washington believed, would facilitate racial progress. He founded the Tuskegee Institute along with other important institutions that preserved his legacy within the struggle for racial advancement for African Americans. Thus, Washington unequivocally promoted industriousness and pragmatism as a result of his skepticism of civil rights that had afforded very little social, political, and economic clout to African Americans despite the fact that they were indeed enfranchised.
Washington began a career in public speaking when he would travel to the North with General Armstrong in order to procure donations for Tuskegee. As he participated in more speaking engagements, he would discuss the importance of improving race relations. At the Atlanta Exposition Address, Washington applauded the managers of the exposition for expressing their fervor towards helping black advancement. He invoked the trope of a ship lost at sea that happened to run into an amicable ship, beggining them for water and supplies. The iteration of "Cast Down your buckets" reverberated throughout the crowd, and Washington used this anecdote to underscore that blacks in the south had to "cast down their buckets" in order to foster friendly relations with their white counterparts. Indeed, blacks and whites alike, Washington promulgated, needed to cast down their buckets in order to transcend the ahistorical boundaries that rendered the relationship between the white and black man strained. This speech won Washington many supporters, and he used his newfound fame to address racial problems that continued to plague the South.
Washington's life set a great example for African Americans during this epoch considering their deplorable condition at the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. However, the media as well as members of the black community scrutinized and criticized him and the ideology he espoused. He was pejoratively labeled an “accomodationist” by left wing black critics who did not want to see a black man seeking “substantiation” by white’s acceptance of him. Washington eschewed the extremely staunch, almost militant agenda embraced by Frederick Douglass as well as the ideologies espoused by many of his contemporaries whose messages seemed to offer quicker and more revolutionary solutions than his own.
Critics further stated that all of Washington’s achievements had come at the hands of the white community's confirmation, thereby painting his agenda as inorganic. Washington had not actually taken any initiative to strike out on his own. However, he “reinforced the white” message of being satisfied with one's current position and “casting your bucket down” and bettering oneself within their present circumstances and contingencies rather than changing their circumstances to raise their standard of living. Thus, African Americans charged that he was a sell out rather than a savior, as African Americans no longer had patience for diligence and slowly earning your way to prominence. Indeed, many of Washington's contemporaries proffered their own agendas for the procurement of black progress that were rooted in immediacy rather than gradualism. The main reason for the lack of patience with Washington’s methodology was the immediacy with which blacks received their freedom. Because blacks had been slaves one day and free the next, former slaves believed that as slavery ended, poverty should end as well. However, this notion was unrealistic, and Washington had the foresight to see that. He knew that passionate speeches and emotionally charged rhetoric would not feed African American families, and that vehement rallies could not give people the skills necessary to work in jobs. The fact that we still mention his name shows that there were individuals who believed in his message, but who knows how greatly our condition as a race could have been ameliorated had we just gathered the strength to ignore the critics and accept Washington's agenda.
Blacks were not the only faction to criticize Booker T. Washington’s message. Whites also viewed Washington as a threat and thus wanted to be silence him as well. Although he did not preach militancy or rebellion, Washington did preach the need for heightened self-esteem and diligence and that equality was the ultimate goal. He believed that blacks were “just as capable” as whites to accomplish any task, but they had not been afforded the opportunity to prove ourselves. If blacks worked hard they would inevitably prove to be equals to whites and thus be granted a righteous place in society. Simply, Washington thought if you proved yourself worthy of respect you would get it in due time. This message was one that his followers heeded attentively because they longed for the equality and respect they felt had been stolen from them for their entire lifetimes. Whites were not prepared to render such deference to their black counterparts.
Many right wing whites charged Washington with “preaching blasphemy against the bible” because he said that women could and should work outside of the home, and that all humans regardless of race deserved equality. He was making bold strides against the foundation of white hegemony on which American was built on. Although his wisdom was sought from Wall Street to the White House, it still propagated change, but southern conservatives were not willing to concede their privileged lifestyle they had because of slavery, which had been rendered moot after the Civil War and emancipation. Washington was discredited in many conservative circles due to his stance on America. Although it did not affect his overall esteem, it seems his only saving grace was that although he was disliked, he was not hated nearly as much as some of his more radical contemporaries.
Up from Slavery takes place around the time of Reconstruction (1865-1877) and the Gilded Age (1890-1920), a period where Americans sought to recuperate from the vagaries and destruction of the Civil War, which paved the way for many reforms. Washington emerged as the leading activist for education reform for African American youth. Washington’s philosophy is that the only way for African Americans to receive racial equality in American society, socially, politically, and economically aspects is not only education but also manual labor. Even thought there was not many significant characters in the autobiography not only was Washington was an important but his mentor, advocate, and father-figure , General Samuel C. Armstrong, in which Washington viewed Armstrong as being “superhuman” the most influential person in Washington’s life helping Washington offering an equal opportunity for an education. He knew that racial equality would not be reached over night and that it takes a long time but he believe that social, political, economic sufficiency would gradually be reach over time with education and knowledge of a trade in industry that would benefit all races. With those three things, African Americans would shed their second class citizenship. Washington complete during and after his life with African Americans going to schools and universities bettering the lives for not just themselves but for the family down the line.
Booker T. Washington overcame the circumstances of which he was born into (child of an enslaved African-American), and left his mark upon history with great contributions in education. Washington believed that education for blacks would be better served if the curricula were more specific to teaching certain trades and skills to advance employment opportunities for blacks, rather than academic in nature. In 1881 Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute was established by him for that purpose and stayed on with the Institute until his death in 1915. The Institute was a huge success and brought forth graduates that went on to establish other Normal schools throughout the south. Because tolerance was becoming low and racism gaining ground, Washington’s approach to educating African-Americans in certain skill-sets could explain why the institute endured during such turbulent times. Regardless, Tuskegee became an outstanding educational institute for African-Americans, even in teacher education eventually. This is significant even for today as we know how important it is for minority students to have access to minority educators. Washington was a great influence upon the educational scene of his lifetime and gained great respect in doing so. This opened the door for African-Americans and created avenues and access to education. Washington became a great teacher, public speaker and writer and in doing so was able to influence multitudes of people and our American Educational System.
While perusing about Washington I ran over some data that may help vindicate him on his perspectives on instruction. Today, the attention is on a professional education in the educated community, rather than physical work. Additionally good character is without a doubt, not part of today's teachings. Article 'past one size fits all school dreams' highlights that market patterns have demonstrated Washington's framework may give more occupations to a more noteworthy number of the populace then places for higher learning. Article underlines that a little organization reviewed are stressed over the avoiding number of qualified specialists in the exchanges. Then again in a late review of graduates from a little professional school where 125 of 132 graduates reacted, just 8 of them were unemployed. Plainly at first glance, Booker T. Washington's thought was a keen one. To make the best blocks anyplace would compel the white group to need to manage him and his school.
The making of these blocks brought on large portions of the white inhabitants of the area to start to feel that the instruction of the Negro was not making him useless. This would unquestionably demonstrate the group that dark men and ladies were utilizing their training to wind up dedicated business people. However is Booker Washington, truly saying what he composes? Why should a dark man or lady legitimize a purpose behind his/her instruction? A white family sends his/her youngster to class without question, so is there any valid reason why shouldn't dark family do likewise? Washington is by all accounts legitimizing that a mechanical training for the dark man or lady would profit all. The dark understudy would give an item and an administration that the white man could utilize, subsequently defending an instruction and additionally a life of servitude.