Atlanta Compromise: the Future of an American Negro

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Booker T. Washington was born on April 5, 1856, in Hale’s Ford, Westlake Corner, VA. Washington was born into slavery and never knew his birthday. However, the year on his headstone reads 1856. It is said that his father was a white man. When he was nine, Booker and his family gained freedom under the Emancipation Proclamation. Jane, Washington’s mother, moved her family to West Virginia with her husband, Washington Ferguson, who had escaped from slavery and settled there during the war.

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Booker began to teach himself to read and attended school for the first time. When he started school, he had to provide a name, so he used his stepfather’s, Washington. Later, he learned that his mother had already given him a name. After discovering his original name, he kept it: Booker Taliaferro Washington. An American educator, orator, author, and advisor to US presidents, Washington was the first African American whose face appeared on a US postage stamp. In 1881, he founded Tuskegee Institute, now Tuskegee University. The university focused on training African Americans in agriculture and quickly grew in size and prestige. Washington was the most influential black leader of his time. His messages encouraged self-elevation among African Americans through hard work. However, he also preached acceptance of discrimination.

From this, I can learn not to passively accept difficulties that oppress me. “You can’t hold a man down without staying down with him” is a valuable reminder that what you do or say unto others should always be positive and helpful. After all, negative actions can eventually backfire. Another valuable lesson is, “Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work”. Hard-earned rewards have more value than those obtained without effort. “Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way”; to me, ‘excellence’ implies something extraordinary. If you do something the same way as others, it doesn’t differentiate you. It’s clear that both blacks and whites in the south needed to unite. Washington’s ideas revolved around the history of enslaved and freed people and their need for education to progress.


“Booker T. Washington.”, A&E Networks Television, 15 Jan. 2019,

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Atlanta Compromise.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 6 Dec. 2016,

“The Future of the American Negro.” Booker T. Washington Society – Books by Booker T. Washington,

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Atlanta Compromise: The Future of an American Negro. (2019, May 25). Retrieved from