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Up From Slavery [Paperback]

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Item description for Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington...

Up from slavery is a recollection of the life of Black America's greatest spokesman during that period, Booker T. Washington, who worked ceaselessly to gain financial and economic equality for his people. He fiercely appealed to blacks to struggle for education, industriouness and self-reliance.

Outline Review
Nineteenth-century African American businessman, activist, and educator Booker Taliaferro Washington's Up from Slavery is one of the greatest American autobiographies ever written. Its mantras of black economic empowerment, land ownership, and self-help inspired generations of black leaders, including Marcus Garvey, Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, and Louis Farrakhan. In rags-to-riches fashion, Washington recounts his ascendance from early life as a mulatto slave in Virginia to a 34-year term as president of the influential, agriculturally based Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. From that position, Washington reigned as the most important leader of his people, with slogans like "cast down your buckets," which emphasized vocational merit rather than the academic and political excellence championed by his contemporary rival W.E.B. Du Bois. Though many considered him too accommodating to segregationists, Washington, as he said in his historic "Atlanta Compromise" speech of 1895, believed that "political agitation alone would not save [the Negro]," and that "property, industry, skill, intelligence, and character" would prove necessary to black Americans' success. The potency of his philosophies are alive today in the nationalist and conservative camps that compose the complex quilt of black American society.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   332
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 5.25" Height: 8"
Weight:   0.8 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 6, 2000
Publisher   Lushena Books
ISBN  1930097123  
ISBN13  9781930097124  

Availability  0 units.

More About Booker T. Washington

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Booker Taliaferro Washington, the educator and racial spokesman who remains one of the most controversial figures in African-American history, was born into slavery on a tobacco farm in Franklin County, Virginia, on April 5, 1856. His mother was the plantation's cook; his father was an unknown white man. At the close of the Civil War, Washington moved with his mother and stepfather to the river town of Malden, West Virginia, where he toiled in coal mines and salt furnaces, securing a basic education in his spare time. Later he worked as a houseboy for Mrs. Viola Ruffner, a New England woman who recognized his eagerness to advance himself. In 1872 Washington returned to Virginia to enroll in the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, a vocational school for blacks founded by Samuel Chapman Armstrong, a former Union general. Washington graduated with honors in 1875. Afterward, he taught school in Malden and briefly attended the Wayland Seminary in Washington, D.C., before accepting an invitation from General Armstrong to join the faculty at Hampton.
In 1881 Washington left Virginia for Alabama, to establish the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute. The school opened on July 4, 1881, with one teacher and thirty pupils. Through skillful management, tireless fund-raising, and shrewd diplomacy with whites, he built Tuskegee, literally brick by brick, into the top black trade school in the country. Like his mentor, General Armstrong, Washington made sure that all skills and academic courses taught at Tuskegee had practical application in the economy of the postwar South. A pragmatist, not an idealist, he endorsed the Puritan virtue of self-help, maintaining, "the individual who can do something that the world wants done will, in the end, make his way regardless of his race."
Washington's well-known success as an educator led to his being asked to speak on racial issues. In 1895 he delivered opening remarks at the Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta. In the now-famous Atlanta Compromise Address, Washington urged blacks to postpone their demands for equal rights and focus instead on improving themselves through education, industriousness, and racial solidarity. "In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress," he stated. The following year Washington became the first black to receive an honorary Master of Arts degree from Harvard University.
By 1900 Washington, the so-called "Wizard of Tuskegee," had emerged as America's most influential black leader. He launched the National Negro Business League in Boston and, in rapid succession, published two volumes of autobiography: The Story of My Life and Work (1900) and Up from Slavery (1901). William Dean Howells praised Up from Slavery in the North American Review, and Langston Hughes later deemed it "one of America's most revealing books." Washington created a storm of controversy, however, when he dined at the White House with President Theodore Roosevelt to discuss political appointments in the South.
In 1903 Washington's accommodationist position came under attack by W. E. B. Du Bois. In The Souls of Black Folk Du Bois wrote: "His doctrine has tended to make the whites, North and South, shift the burden of the Negro problem to the Negro's shoulders and stand aside as critical and rather pessimistic spectators; when in fact the burden belongs to the nation, and the hands of none of us are clean if we bend not our energies to righting these great wrongs." Soon Washington's leadership was challenged by the militant Niagara Movement, founded in 1905, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which succeeded it in 1910.
Washington maintained a grueling work schedule during his final years. He also toured Europe and brought out two last books, My Larger Education (1911) and The Man Farthest Down (1912). In November 1915, while visiting New York City on business, Washington was hospitalized. Realizing the gravity of his condition, he insisted on returning home. "I was born in the South, have lived all my life in the South, and expect to die and be buried in the South," he often said. Booker T. Washington arrived in Alabama by train only hours before his death on November 14, 1915. He was buried two days later in the small cemetery on the campus of the Tuskegee Institute.

Booker T. Washington lived in the state of Alabama. Booker T. Washington was born in 1856 and died in 1915.

Booker T. Washington has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Oxford World's Classics (Paperback)
  2. Pelican Pouch Series
  3. Penguin Classics
  4. Tantor Unabridged Classics

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Ethnic & National > African-American & Black
2Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Ethnic & National > General
3Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > General
4Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > African Americans > History

Reviews - What do customers think about Up From Slavery?

a positive message for all  Sep 23, 2008
Booker Ts story really inspires. It just shows that with positive thinking and motivation, tremendous difficulties, odds and challenges are beatable. It's a message many of us would gain from if we would just stop complaining and blaming others for our lot in life, and just get moving on up!

I've reviewed the CreateSpace edition, ISBN 1438268165. It's a clear, easy to read version, well designed and the print and binding are excellent. Highly recommended!
Required reading  Aug 26, 2008
Wow! What an amazing story! It is fascinating to read Booker T. Washington's account of a childhood in slavery followed by his rise to national prominence as the founder of the Tuskegee Institute.

While some may argue that Washington was naive and overly accomodating, I was amazed at his ability to forgive and see the best in people. He did not nurse grudges or let others bring him down. Whether or not you feel that he should have spoken up more for judicial equality, you have to admit that he was a strong, dedicated man of character.

Everyone: white, black, brown, or any other shade, can benefit from reading the autobiography of this great American.
Relentlessly positive message, too perfect to believe?   Aug 4, 2008
Washington's relentlessly positive message is encouraging but at the same time too perfect for believability. The reader desires that Washington would once take off the mask of cheer that he appears to be putting over some parts of his autobiography and tell us what he really thinks.

His optimism extended to the political status of African-Americans and their future integration into American society. As the constant threat of lynching and KKK-ism continued throughout most of the 20th Century, even as positive steps were made in racial integration, it appears his optimism was at best proven wrong, or at least premature. And it is easy to understand the criticism by other contemporary black leaders like W. E. B. DuBois for his easy optimism.

But on the other hand, until and unless I read otherwise in a well-researched biography, perhaps Washington's optimism isn't a front or a mask to cover deep bitterness, but is true and sincere, and indeed, nothing in his story hear reads as if forced or fraudulent.

I purchased this book at the small National Park bookstore at Booker T. Washington's birthplace in rural southwestern Virginia. The setting still matches the quiet and isolation that Washington describes, and lends credence to his tale of self-reliant optimism. I also purchased a National Park Service pamphlet Booker T. Washington: An Appreciation Of The Man And His Times, which makes a nice short companion to Washington's masterpiece.
The Force That Wins  May 13, 2008
Up from Slavery, autobiography by Booker T. Washington, is a true classic in African-American literature. Washington opens Chapter 1: "A Slave Among Slaves" with his vivid recollections as a Negro child growing up in the South: a slave on a plantation in Virginia, a white father he never knew, illiterate and living in horrid conditions. After the emancipation of slaves, Washington's family moves to West Virginia where he labors at the salt furnace and in the coal mines. In his precious few moments of spare time, he learns to read and gains enough confidence to leave everything behind to journey to the Hampton Institute. Later, because of his success at Hampton, he is given the opportunity to start Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Tuskegee Institute is successful partly due to Washington's extensive travel to the North to solicit funds for the school. The students at Tuskegee, in addition to the day-to-day traditional class work, are expected to learn an industrious trade and to work at mastering that trade. Based on his own life experience, Washington believes that the most prudent way the Negro race will persevere is through this combination of education, hard work and service to others. He believes that the White race will come to appreciate the Negro race only if the Negro people prove their worth to society. Because of his passive stance, many, such as W.E.B. DuBois, et. al., labeled Washington as "The Great Accomodator." In other words, accommodating those who were the enslavers instead of advocating for the rights of those who were enslaved. You can get a sense of this in Washington's most notable speech, the address to the Atlanta Cotton States and International Exposition of 1895:

"The wisest among my race understand that the agitation of questions of social equality is the extremist folly, and that progress in the enjoyment of all the privileges that will come to us must be the result of severe and constant struggle rather than artificial forcing."

This speech brought national acclaim to Booker T. Washington and, at the time, placed him in the forefront as one of the leading authorities of his race.
Accommodationist or Uncle Tom?  Mar 30, 2008
Washington was born into slavery as a result of his mother having been raped by her master. This autobiography is a recounting of his struggle from slavery to freedom and on to getting an education and becoming a teacher and then an educational administrator as well as a "Black politician."

In American culture, this narrative is cast as the quintessential "raise yourself by your boot strap" kind of story. In fact when I was in the First Grade, I can remember my First grade teacher, Mrs. Pogue, singing the praises of "the Great Booker T. Washington."

And while there is a great deal to admire about Mr. Washington, there is also a side that only came to light after hearing the other side of his story. Washington was called an "accommodationist," "or "the great compromiser," which in the context of the times were euphemisms for being an "Uncle Tom," or the HNIC. He was good at maneuvering his way around in a racist white culture thinking that he was doing his people a great deal of good when in fact he was being taken advantage of, or when he was in fact consciously "selling his people out." By making a "virtue, out of personal necessity," Washington always had a good justification for his action and eventually became the prototype of this kind of black politician. Many Black preachers still use the Washington template for handling cross-racial situations. Plus how else were blacks to negotiate the difficult racist political terrain of those difficult times?

In the book, for instance, he eschews and discourages blacks from seeking a liberal arts education and from attending college, as being frivolous. He argued for the more practical area of the "manual arts," and "the trades." While this may have been useful -- even good advice -- in the context of the times, there were others of his contemporaries, such as WEB Dubois, who saw Washington's approach as strictly a formulaic kind of Uncle Tomism. And the embarrassing treatment of him at the 1905 World's Fair, kind of sealed this image of him as a Black Uncle Tom by blacks and a "stooge" by whites.

While the book is a good read, in retrospect, it shows Washington to have been very naïve politically, and too trusting of "the white man," who it seems never quite saw the world as he did and neither had Washington's, nor the black race's best interests in mind. Maybe it is a bit harsh to judge his action after the fact, but all other black leaders are judged by the same criteria and they come out unblemished, while Washington's accommodationist methods do not seem to have held up well over time nor have they bore any fruit.

Three Stars

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