Featured in the February, 2015 Issue of the Ashburn Baptist News
Booker T. Washington was born in a slave-hut on April 5, 1856. After emancipation, his Baptist family moved to Maldeen, West Virginia.
Because of poverty, there was no regular schooling for Booker. At the age of 9, he began working first in a salt-works, and then in a coal mine. At age 16, he walked nearly 500 miles from his home to Hampton Institute, where he worked his way through school. For a short time, he taught school.
In 1881, he was invited by a local group of whites in Tuskegee, Alabama, to start a school. He was impressed by the town, but discouraged by the facilities. The classroom was a shanty with an assembly room provided by a nearby church. The classroom roof was so leaky that a student had to hold an umbrella over his head while he taught. The objective was to train teachers for rural schools.
Washington proved to be a genius at organizing and fund-raising. The school thrived as he led it from 1881-1915. Washington received honorary degrees from Dartmouth College and Harvard University. What began as Tuskegee Normal School for Colored Teachers is now Tuskegee University. In 1965, the University was declared a National Historic Landmark.
When the Institute began, it was largely a vocational and agricultural school, but now offers a wide-range of programs for the bachelors’ degree, masters’ programs in 17 fields, and has 4 PhD programs.
Today, the Tuskegee campus is 2,300 acres with over 100 buildings, and 3,100 students.
The impact of Booker T. Washington has been phenomenal. Never under-estimate what God can do through one life.