Stone Washington
1915-2015--100th Anniversary of Booker T. Washington
By Stone Washington
April 8, 2015

Success waits patiently for anyone who has the determination and strength to seize it.

Booker T. Washington (quote in my father's office)

Happy Resurrection day and Easter to all. This essay celebrates the 100th anniversary of the legendary Black American conservative intellectual, Booker T. Washington, who was born on April 5, 1856 and died on November 14, 1915. The focus of my piece is on his famous memoir, Up From Slavery. This book is a brilliant portrayal of the long-suffering turned successful life of the renowned Black activist from West Virginia. I write this as a tribute on behalf of Washington's legacy and toward the concept of success not only for the advancement of the Black race, but also for the success that is open toward all races who believe in determination, vision, and singular strength to seize victory through the three principles Washington ordered his life by – hard work, entrepreneurship, and morality.

Up From Slavery

Booker T. Washington nicknamed: "the Tuskegee Machine," was born a slave in 1856 to an unmarried Black woman on a plantation in West Virginia. His mother never identified his white father, said to be a nearby planter. Since food was a scarcity along with clothing and other basic living essentials, Washington's early years meant long hours performing manual labor with his family for his slave owners. If one could have been born at the "right time" Washington was, where eventually during his boyhood days the Civil War ended allowing Washington and his family to become self-sufficient and free from the treachery and subjugation of slavery. Known at this time as only "Booker T," when he began going to school Booker came up with his own last name almost instantaneously, 'Washington,' as he had no prior last name for he wasn't born with one.

After working in a salt furnace for years, Booker began his long, treacherous journey to fulfilling his ultimate dream, going to college at the historically Black college, the Hampton Institute, in Hampton Virginia. Aided by friends, relatives, Washington barely makes it into the school where he begins to pay for his tuition through long, arduous janitorial duties. Booker's mother passes away while he is in college, leaving just him and his siblings in the world; Washington would cite this period as the most dismal in his life. After graduating in 1875, Washington explores the nation's capitol where many Blacks are found to be in federal offices and Congress, and probing the opportunities of the city. Washington begins his educational endeavors by teaching Native Americans at Hampton. Washington later received invitation to open a school in Tuskegee Alabama, where he labored for years alongside other students raising money and supplying materials for the construction process. Through all this Washington had support from many donors and friends, such as his mentor General Samuel C. Armstrong, a former Brigadier General of the 8th U.S. Colored Troops, and later president of Hampton Institute, and a titan of industry Andrew Carnegie.

After many hardships and harsh living conditions, the building process of the Tuskegee institute is under way, where after many long months of blood, sweat, and tears it is eventually completed by the many volunteer workers and college students alike. Washington has accomplished his dream of a prosperous education towards all able minded students in the South; he has built his bed for success, now he can lie in it. Washington later remarries Olivia A. Davidson, of who had been a huge help in the raising of funds for Tuskegee Institute. It is then that Washington travels to the North and South for various speeches and fundraisers. Through these many travels Washington gives his famous Atlanta Exposition speech on his philosophy of race relations between Whites and Blacks, the first famous speech of its kind in History. Here is an excerpt from the monumental speech of Mr. Washington's Atlanta Exposition spoken for the ages:
    There is no defense or security for any of us except in the highest intelligence and development of all. If anywhere there are efforts tending to curtail the fullest growth of the Negro, let these efforts be turned into stimulating, encouraging, and making him the most useful and intelligent citizen. Effort or means so invested will pay a thousand per cent interest. These efforts will be twice blessed – blessing him that gives and him that takes. There is no escape through law of man or God from the inevitable:

    The laws of changeless justice bind Oppressor with oppressed;

    And close as sin and suffering joined We march to fate abreast...

In 1882 Washington marries a third time to Miss Fannie M. Smith, and the couple travel to Europe, where Washington is recognized as an international star by many including Queen Victoria, Susan B. Anthony, and Sir Henry M. Stanley along with multiple abolitionists under Fredrick Douglas who happened to be in Europe at the time. In the last chapter of the book Washington receives a very special honorary award from Harvard University, which he considers as his greatest achievement, along with President William McKinley visiting Tuskegee Institute upon the faith he has in the school's mission and success. The book ends with Washington's final words and legacy for Tuskegee and the future of the Black race.

Modern day significance

Through my experience reading this memoir of the famous Black educator, entrepreneur, and international icon I have found that his life-work is truly inspirational for the betterment of all races. It has greatly reinforced my understanding of how a man can grow up through poverty and later rise above the hardships and impossibilities of life and attain success and fame through faithful adherence to Booker T's three principles – hard work, entrepreneurship, and morality – without becoming bitter or antagonistic to his White oppressors. Up From Slavery is a compelling example of one of the greatest Black men in history emerging through the most treacherous period in America, transforming the work ethic within Black community, southern schools, and American education, while seeking to mend tensions between Blacks and Whites.

The book provides us with an in-depth narrative of "the Sage of Tuskegee," Booker T. Washington, through his earliest struggles in subjugation and poverty to his future successes as the Black champion of American diligence and education. Washington's love for education is admirable throughout the book by his singular work ethic and long suffering to obtain higher learning. Washington's determination never gave way to the often bleak and hopeless situations he was trapped into through his long journey, such as having trouble teaching his students to juggle hard labor and college education even in the face of constant failure. For soon Washington would be successful in paving the way for hundreds of thousands of students across the North and South to receive schooling in areas where proper education was inadequate.

Throughout the book the author often shares his timeless philosophic words and advice for the advancement of the Black race. For example, in my father's first book, The Devil is in the Details: Essays on Law, Race and Politics (1999), he quoted from Booker T's memoir which ironically struck a profound chord with me:
    The wisest among my race understand that the agitation of questions of social equality is the extremest folly, and that progress in the enjoyment of all the privileges that will come to us must be the result of severe and constant struggle rather than of artificial forcing. No race that has anything to contribute to the markets of the world is long in any degree ostracized. It is important and right that all privileges of the law be ours, but it is vastly more important that we be prepared for the exercise of these privileges. The opportunity to earn a dollar in a factory just now is worth infinitely more than the opportunity to spend a dollar in an opera-house.
In the introduction, the writer shows that Washington is not hateful towards racist Whites and is not supportive of antagonistic Blacks, "Washington believed that blacks could regain their rights in the South only by accepting the political status quo and working gradually to change it by proving themselves valuable, productive members of society who deserved fair and equal treatment before the law" (Washington, viii). Throughout my reading of Washington's memoir I have found that Up From Slavery has not only gained publicity from Black audiences but exceedingly great approval from Whites as well. This is due in part to the fact that Washington has masked his personal and social agenda on the subject of race conflictions behind a visually simple, folksy brand of inconspicuous storytelling.

For a greater part of his book Washington gives reference to all the key friends and associates whom helped him attain success in his educational pursuits. General Armstrong proved to be his greatest inspirational role-model on account that Washington has learned such important and unique life lessons, unseen from any other individual throughout his life. Washington writes, "It is now long ago that I have learned this lesson from General Armstrong, and resolved that I would permit no man, no matter what his colour might be, to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him. With God's help, I believe that I have completely rid myself of any ill feeling toward the Southern white man for any wrong that he may have inflicted upon my race"

From this it is seen that much of Washington's outlook upon race relations between Whites and Blacks have been heavily influenced by the selflessness and brotherly admiration deriving from his teacher General Samuel C. Armstrong.

I greatly admire how in every situation Washington faced he never gave up hope, never lost sight of his goals, even when the odds were not in his favor (and they mostly weren't). Washington always remained faithful and never "discouraged" as he would always mention, pushing through various challenges and barriers with his unbreakable will to work, "But Gradually, by patience and hard work, we brought order out of chaos, just as will be true of any problem if we stick to it with patience and wisdom and earnest effort" (Washington, p. 95).

If only this classic memoir Up from Slavery, by Booker T. Washington was mandatory reading to every public school student in America, I am convinced that there would be an education revolution that would occur almost overnight as welfare slavery and ghetto life would of necessity become relegated to the past. Booker T. Washington's book teaches us to even prefer at many times the path of hard, wearisome work as opposed to the luxury of privileged living, such as his philosophy of how Blacks must overcome vastly greater hardships in life in contrast to the effortless White entitlement (now referred to as 'White privilege'), to attain even greater success as a reborn race. This is the renaissance philosophy my father has passed onto me as a critical thinker and rising intellectual; fluency in multiple fields of logic and ingenuity that work to make me a well-rounded individual and self-starter. We call this 'the Washington Way.'

Booker T. Washington believes that through hard work one is made an infinitely greater man than someone who has everything handed to him on a silver platter whether though Black affirmative action or White privilege. Therefore, America must ask itself in 2015, Have we truly and fully opened our eyes about the complexities of the race question? Has the Black race truly severed the slave chains after the Emancipation Proclamation, or have we remained enslaved to government subsidies, ghetto violence, largest abortion percentage of any race, random police slaughtering over protecting the peace, and other pathologies that have plagued our race since allying with the Progressive, Socialists, and Liberals who created these welfare policies that encourages and promotes such voluntary slavery?

© Stone Washington


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Stone Washington

Stone Washington is a PhD student in the Trachtenberg School at George Washington University. Stone is employed as a Research Fellow for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, focusing on economic policy as part of the Center for Advancing Capitalism. Previously, he completed a traineeship with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He was also a Research Assistant at the Manhattan Institute, serving as an extension from his time in the Collegiate Associate Program. During this time, he worked as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in Clemson's Department of Political Science and served as a WAC Practicum Fellow for the Pearce Center for Professional Communication. Stone is also a member of the Steamboat Institute's Emerging Leaders Council.

Stone possesses a Graduate Certificate in Public Administration from Clemson University, a Juris Master from Emory University School of Law, and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Clemson University. While studying at Emory Law, Stone was featured in an exclusive JM Student Spotlight, highlighting his most memorable law school experience. He has completed a journalism fellowship at The Daily Caller, is an alumnus of the Young Leader's Program at The Heritage Foundation, and served as a former student intern/Editor for Decipher Magazine. Some of Stone's articles can be found at, which often provide a critical analysis of prominent works of classical literature and its correlations to American history and politics. Stone is a member of the Project 21 Black Leadership Network, and has written a number of policy-related op-eds for the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, The College Fix, Real Clear Policy, and City Journal. In addition, Stone is listed in the Marquis Who's Who in America and is a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society. Friend him on his Facebook page, also his Twitter handle: @StoneZone47 and Instagram. Email him at


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