A Moral Leader is Someone who is Noble, Strategic, Honest

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A moral leader is someone who is noble, determined, respectful, intelligent, strategic, honest, self-aware, and authentic. A moral leader displays strong character when faced with diversity. Booker T. Washington was one of the best advocates of his time, making him the epitome of a moral leader.

Booker T. Washington was an Educator and Civil Rights Activist. Putting himself through school and becoming a teacher, Washington was considered one of the most influential educators in the late 19th and early 20th century.

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He founded Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (known as Tuskegee University) in Alabama in 1881.

Historical Context:

A little less than one year after Booker T. Washington was born, on March 6, 1857, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Dred Scott decision to deny citizenship and constitutional rights to all black people, legally establishing black people, whether slave or freed, inferior beings. Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, however it was not enforced until after the Civil War, through the 13th Amendment in1865.

It was a tumultuous time in the United States. Though blacks were freed, the Southern states were still able to make the lives of blacks miserable because they enforced the slavery codes making work and participating in society extremely difficult. The slavery codes were invalidated a year later through the First Civil Rights Acts however it was not until the 14th Amendment was passed in 1868 that black people were granted due process and equal protection under the law. From 1870 to 1896, numerous Acts were passed on behalf of black people however they were not truly enforced. White supremacist groups continued to campaign against blacks and their white supporters.

Early and Private Life:

Born April 5, 1856, to an unknown white man and Jane, an enslaved cook, Booker Taliaferro, was the property of James Burroughs of Virginia. After his birth, his mother married a slave, Washington Ferguson. Jane and Washington had a daughter, Amanda, and adopted a younger half-brother James. Booker also had an older brother, John.

Booker’s first nine years of life were spent as a slave on the Burroughs farm. After the enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation, Jane’s husband sought and found work in the salt mines in Malden, West Virginia where Jane and her children later joined him. Upon arrival, at the age of nine, Booker began working as a salt packer then later in a coal mine between the ages of ten and twelve. It was at that time, Booker first enrolled in school and took the surname “Washington.” Washington was taught how to read and write by the wife of the mine owner after he began working as her houseboy. Washington continued to work for the mine owner’s wife until her turned sixteen years old and began his educational journey. After graduating with honors, Washington returned to Malden to teach. He believed in an educational system that taught practical skills and self-help.

In 1880, a bill was passed with a $2,000 annual stipend by the Alabama State Legislation to establish a school for blacks in Macon County. The Governor asked Samuel Armstrong, Washington’s mentor, to recommend a white teacher as the principal. Instead, Armstrong recommended Washington. Washington accepted the position and moved to Alabama. It was not until Washington arrived in Tuskegee, that he discovered there was no land, building, or money (stipend was allocated to salaries). Instead of complaining and becoming weary, Washington recruited students and asked local white people for support. Within a few years, a classroom building, dining hall, girl’s dormitory, and chapel was built. By 1888, there were more than 400 students enrolled in programs such as carpentry, printing, and shoemaking. The programs were a success.

Washington was married three times. had three children from the first two marriages, and four grandchildren. On November 5, 1915, Washington became ill while in New York. He was admitted into the hospital however knowing his end was near, on November 12th, he traveled to Tuskegee to die. On November 14, 1915, Washington died from exhaustion and arteriosclerosis.


As a slave, it was illegal for Washington to receive an education however he was determined to succeed so from a young age, he focused on training. After the Emancipation Proclamation, Washington and his family moved to Malden, West Virginia where he worked for a mine owner’s wife. The wife began to teach Washington how to read and write, growing his love for education.

At the age of sixteen, Washington walked five hundred miles to Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, taking odd jobs along the way. His entrance examination was to clean a room. The teacher used a white handkerchief to inspect Washington’s work. After deeming the room spotless, Washington was admitted. To pay for room and board, Washington worked as a janitor. His tuition was paid by a white benefactor that the principal, Samuel Chapman Armstrong arranged. Washington studied agriculture and academic subjects however his favorite subject/interest was in public speaking and debate.

Leadership Lessons:

Washington’s childhood was one of slavery and poverty. In an era were black people were deemed inferior and subordinates, Washington was determined to succeed.”

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A Moral Leader Is Someone Who Is Noble, Strategic, Honest. (2021, May 10). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/a-moral-leader-is-someone-who-is-noble-strategic-honest/