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Black History and Blacks in U.S. History
Booker T. Washington



Booker T. Washington
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 7 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.02

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    separation, conservative, better, mentor, leadership, controversial, budget, radical, political, monetary, poverty, teaching, widely, founded, successful, endorsement
     content words:    Booker T., Booker Taliaferro Washington, West Virginia, Hampton Normal Agricultural Institute, Tuskegee Negro Normal Institute, Tuskegee Institute, Cotton States, International Exposition, President Teddy Roosevelt, White House


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Booker T. Washington
By Mary L. Bushong
  

1     How much do you want to learn? Do you try to put off doing school work or wish you didn't have to attend classes at all? As a boy, Booker T. Washington could not attend school, but he still made sure he learned. He even helped build a school which helped many young black people reach for their dreams.
 
2     Booker Taliaferro Washington was born a slave in Virginia in 1856. As a small child, his job was to carry water to the men and women who worked in the fields. After they were freed, he and his mother moved to West Virginia to work at the salt furnaces. He longed to go to school but had to make do with a few lessons at night.
 
3     When he was sixteen, he received permission from his mother to attend Hampton Normal Agricultural Institute in Virginia. He walked most of the 200 miles to get there. Booker paid his tuition by working as a janitor for the school at night. The principal of the school was so impressed by his desire to learn that he became Booker's mentor. Then he arranged for a wealthy patron to pay the young man's bills.
 
4     After graduating, Booker T. Washington returned to his West Virginia home to try teaching. Then he attended a seminary. Within three years, he returned to the Institute as a teacher. Not long after, a group of Alabama businessmen contacted the principal of the Institute. They planned to open a school for blacks in Tuskegee, Alabama and asked for his suggestion for a man to head up the school. Booker T. Washington was suggested first. He was just 25 years old.
 
5     The original site of the Tuskegee Negro Normal Institute was donated by a black church. The building itself was little more than a shack, and they had a yearly budget of $2,000.

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