Bentley Loft Classics proudly presents book #9, UP FROM SLAVERY an autobiography by Booker T. Washington
Here is a sample of Chapter 1 of Up from Slavery.
Chapter I. A Slave Among Slaves
I was born a slave on a plantation in Franklin County, Virginia. I am
not quite sure of the exact place or exact date of my birth, but at
any rate I suspect I must have been born somewhere and at some time.
As nearly as I have been able to learn, I was born near a cross-roads
post-office called Hale's Ford, and the year was 1858 or 1859. I do not
know the month or the day. The earliest impressions I can now recall are
of the plantation and the slave quarters--the latter being the part of
the plantation where the slaves had their cabins.
My life had its beginning in the midst of the most miserable, desolate,
and discouraging surroundings. This was so, however, not because my
owners were especially cruel, for they were not, as compared with many
others. I was born in a typical log cabin, about fourteen by sixteen
feet square. In this cabin I lived with my mother and a brother and
sister till after the Civil War, when we were all declared free.
Booker Taliaferro Washington (April 5, 1856 – November 14, 1915) was an American educator, author, orator, and political leader. He was the dominant figure in the African American community in the United States from 1890 to 1915. Representative of the last generation of black leaders born in slavery, he spoke on behalf of the large majority of blacks who lived in the South but had lost their right to vote. While his opponents called his powerful network of supporters the "Tuskegee Machine," Washington maintained his power because of the sponsorship of powerful whites, widespread support within the black business, educational and religious communities nationwide, his ability to raise large amounts of money from philanthropists, and his accommodation to the political realities of the age of Jim Crow segregation.
Washington was born into slavery to a slave mother and white father, who was a nearby planter, in a rural area in southwestern Virginia. After emancipation, he worked in West Virginia in a variety of manual labor jobs before making his way to Hampton Roads seeking an education. He worked his way through Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (now Hampton University) and attended college at Wayland Seminary (now Virginia Union University). In 1876, Washington returned to live in Malden, West Virginia, teaching Sunday School at African Zion Baptist Church; he married his first wife, Fannie Smith, at the church in 1881. After returning to Hampton as a teacher, in 1881 he was named as the first leader of the new Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.
Washington attained national prominence for his Atlanta Address of 1895, which attracted the attention of politicians and the public, making him a popular spokesperson for African-American citizens. He built a nationwide network of supporters in many black communities, with black ministers, educators and businessmen composing his core supporters. Washington played a dominant role in black politics, winning wide support in the black community and among more liberal whites (especially rich Northern whites). He gained access to top national leaders in politics, philanthropy and education. Washington's efforts included cooperating with white people and enlisting the support of wealthy philanthropists, helping to raise funds to establish and operate thousands of small community schools and institutions of higher education for the betterment of blacks throughout the South...