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Booker T. Washington

Booker T. Washington
Usage Conditions Apply
Elmer Chickering, 1857 - 1915
Booker T. Washington, 5 Apr 1856 - 14 Nov 1915
c. 1895
Gelatin silver print
Image/Sheet: 14 × 9.7 cm (5 1/2 × 3 13/16")
Mount: 16.6 × 10.8 cm (6 9/16 × 4 1/4")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Object number
Exhibition Label
Born Hale’s Ford, Virginia
In the face of segregation, disenfranchisement, and considerable racial violence, Booker T. Washington contended that it was unrealistic for African Americans to expect to gain entry into America’s white-collar professions. Instead, he suggested they establish themselves as a skilled laboring class. With that accomplished, racial discrimination would gradually disappear. In 1881 Washington put this theory to the test, becoming the director of Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute. As the school grew, he became viewed as the nation’s leading spokesman for African Americans. A magnetic speaker and the author of ten books, he attracted many critics, however, who contended that his “get along” philosophy undermined the quest for racial equality.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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