First published in 1901, Up From Slavery is one of the classic books from the era of American slavery. In it, Booker T. Washington details his rise from a child born into slavery to a free man with a college education. He offers readers his views on the future of blacks in America, charting a course for their development that starts with an education in practical trades. By proving themselves to be important parts of society, he believed they would be granted civil rights without a bloody struggle. Students of history will find this an essential read from the dawning of the civil rights struggle in America. American author BOOKER T. WASHINGTON (1856-1915) was born to a white father and black slave mother in Virginia. His Atlanta Address of 1895 brought him great acclaim, and for the rest of his life he remained a respected figure in the African American community. Among his most influential writings is an article for Atlantic Monthly called "The Awakening of the Negro" (1896).
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.