“My life had its beginning in the midst of the most miserable, desolate, and discouraging surroundings.” So writes the great educator Booker T. Washington on the first page of his autobiography Up From Slavery (Williamstown, MA: Corner House Publishers, 1978). Not a promising start, but
Born a slave on a
So how could a black man born and raised in such destitution ascend to be one of the most powerful and respected men in
Every person ever involved in any successful endeavor knows from experience that it takes this kind of desire and determination to surmount the sometimes daunting challenges that come our way. Scoffers and skeptics, discouragement and debt, bureaucrats and bad advice—the obstacles and opposition we all face every day could fill volumes. But the desire that often keeps a person wide-eyed at three in the morning and will not let him quit until he succeeds is the same passion that drove Booker T. Washington to pursue his dreams. And his dreams would eventually come true.
Starting with not much more than
But there was more to Booker T. Washington than learning and industry. His spiritual side was well known and he expressed a sincere faith in Christ. Devotional exercises were held every morning at
He readily acknowledged his dependence on God in all endeavors. Regarding his preparation for the now-famous “Atlanta Exposition Address,” he wrote: “The next morning, before day, I went carefully over what I intended to say. I also kneeled down and asked God’s blessing upon my effort. Right here, perhaps, I ought to add that I make it a rule never to go before an audience, on any occasion, without asking the blessing of God upon what I want to say.”
The life of Booker T. Washington should be required study for every school child in