"I have discovered in life that
there are ways of getting almost anywhere you want to go, if you really want to
go" (Langston Hughes). As he gradually rose from slavery to success, Booker
T. Washington discovered the truth of those words. Washington was born on April
5th, 1856. Originally born into slavery on a small Virginia
plantation, he was the son of the plantation's cook, a woman named Jane, and a
father whom he never knew. Soon after Washington was born, his mother married a
fellow slave, Washington Ferguson. It was at his insistence, that at the age of
nine, Washington went to work, first in the salt and coal mines, then later as
a houseboy for a strict and proper New Englander, Mrs. Ruffner. Under those
circumstances, Washington learned the "important and demanding standards" of
performance, detail, hard work, and thrift; there, he learned the skills that
led to his success. Though he was born into slavery, he didn't let that stand in
the way of his goals. His experiences as a child shaped him into the hero he
became. Hardworking and determined, Washington impacted the lives of many
people and also inspired many to succeed.
Through Washington's hard work, he was able to reach the lives of many people.
Washington became known for his "untiring" efforts to ensure that
Black Americans all had opportunities at education: "Throwing himself vigorously into his challenging
responsibilities, he recruited students from the countryside and secured an
abandoned plantation for a campus." Regardless of the challenges, Washington
had a purpose in mind to give all Black Americans a chance at education and he
did all he could to make sure that it happened. Through his hard work in
establishing the school, he influenced the lives of many people, giving them an
opportunity they otherwise would not have had. In addition to demonstrating
hard work himself, Washington was also a strong promoter of hard work,
believing that this was the only way around "the seemingly insurmountable
difficulties of survival in a white-ruled society." Washington taught that
in order to become accepted by society, one must first prove themselves to
society: "Addressing a
racially-mixed audience, he declared that it was time for Black Americans to
put aside their desire for civil and social equality and concentrate instead on
making themselves a vital part of the nation's economy through education and
productivity" (Contemporary Heroes and Heroines). Washington urged
Blacks to contribute and succeed in society, believing that this would gain
them the social equality that they desired. Washington played a large role in
motivating Blacks to "strive for self-improvement through education" and
his efforts had lasting impacts on many lives.
A man full of determination, Washington always strived to push himself
beyond his limits. Washington's determined character was always evident, always
showing through, even as a young boy: "Booker
attended school whenever he could but was largely self-taught. Despite his
humble background, he dreamed of attending college, and at the age of sixteen
he set out to fulfill that dream. Traveling mostly on foot and with virtually
no money, he made his way to Hampton, Virginia, taking odd jobs along the way
to finance his trip." Even though there were many obstacles thrown his way,
Washington wouldn't let that stop him. As a young man, Washington was already full
of ambition. He always knew what he wanted and he was always driven to reach
his goals. Washington's determined spirit is what ultimately led to his
success. Later in life, he put his efforts into greater causes. Washington
was educator as well as spokesperson for the rights of black Americans. He
believed that black Americans should have equal opportunities in society: Washington
was always "covertly engaged in challenging racial injustices and in improving
social and economic conditions for blacks." Washington was a man who was
determined to make a difference. He worked to change the limitations that were
placed on black Americans during this period of segregation, even going against
what most people thought at the time. Through his determined and persevering
character, Washington was able to change and improve the lives of many people.
| (Booker T. Washington )|
Booker T. Washington represents a hero because he
gained the respect of others through his hard work and determination.
Originally born a slave, Washington's hard work, paired with his determination eventually
led to his success. As an educator, reformer, and spokesperson for black
Americans, Washington's impact was great. In addition to changing the lives of
people back then, Washington is also an inspiration to all people today. Although
he lived in a separate world, Washington is my hero because his actions inspire
me daily to push past my limits and achieve my goals. His journey from slavery proves
the words of Langston Hughes that anything is possible, that "there are ways of
getting almost anywhere you want to go, if you really want to go."
"Booker T (Aliaferro) Washington." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2003.Gale
Biography In Context. Web. 12 Apr. 2012.
"Booker T. Washington." Contemporary Heroes and Heroines. Vol. 2. Gale, 1992.Gale
Biography In Context. Web. 29 Mar. 2012.
"Booker T. Washington." Historic World Leaders. Gale, 1994. Gale Biography In Context. Web.
28 Mar. 2012.
"Booker T. Washington, 1856-1915." Http://docsouth.unc.edu. Ed. Charles Reagan and William
Ferris. Louis R. Harlan, 2004. Web. 29 Mar. 2012.
Louis R. Harlan, Booker T. Washington, 2 vols. (1972, 1983), with Raymond W.
Smock,eds., The Booker T. Washington Papers, 12 vols. (1972-); August Meier, Negro
Thought in America, 1880-1915 (1963).
Smock, Raymond W. "Washington, Booker T." World Book Advanced. World Book, 2012. Web.
28 Mar. 2012.