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Up from Slavery

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  10,042 ratings  ·  465 reviews
Some chroniclers have called black history from 1881 to 1915 'The Age of Booker T. Washington' and the label is apt, for he was without question the most prominent spokesman for his race during the post-Reconstruction period. Many of his contemporaries deemed him a savior -- the one man who could bring concrete improvement to the lives of African-Americans while also promo...more
Hardcover, 0 pages
Published January 1st 1996 by Lightyear Press (first published January 1st 1900)
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Skylar Burris
It's interesting that with all the emphasis on "multiculturalism" when I was going through school, we never actually read any first source books like "Up From Slavery." However, I can see why some modern educators might want to avoid assigning this book: it does violence to a certain brand of philosophy because of its profound anti-victimization message and its focus on individual responsibility, the power of merit to supplant racism, and the necessity of climbing gradually rather than expecting...more
David
This second ghost-written autobiography of Booker T. Washington presents the carefully crafted public persona that he wanted. Beneath the mask of a humble, saintly,acetic and patient Negro is a power-hungry, self-aggrandizing man. Washington played his cards close to the vest and was sure that he never offended white people from the North or the South. He curried favor with captains of industry such as Andrew Carnegie and Roger Baldwin who eventually set him up for life. Nevertheless, Washington...more
Aaron
Up from Slavery—or alternatively, Profitably Into Jim Crow—is not the inspirational tale of an ex-slave pulling himself up by his own bootstraps that many people would have you believe, but rather the story of a vile opportunist who almost literally sold his own people down river with his odious philosophy of 'accommodation' and then reaped the rewards of a grateful white ruling class in return. Washington's "autobiography" reads precisely like what you would expect from such a man—it's little m...more
Sierra Abrams
Booker T. Washington: once a slave, beat down and told he could do nothing, accomplish nothing; now an example to all men, white and colored, raised above others. Why? Hard work and a desire to do good in this world. He accomplished more than a lot, from getting into a school by sweeping and cleaning a room, to teaching at a night school, to starting Tuskegee, to speaking at huge events at which no black man had ever spoken. He met great men, did great things, built a great community, and loved...more
Christy
On the one hand, this is a really interesting look at the culture of the South during and just after the period of Reconstruction; on the other hand, however, Washington's view of that culture is certainly affected by his wholehearted endorsement of the American Dream, the Horatio Alger myth, and capitalism. While it's important to acknowledge the value of hard work and perseverance and while Washington himself did a great deal of good for African Americans, working for years to develop the Tusk...more
Tryn
No matter how modestly this man tries to tell his story, the facts of his life shine with the luster of greatness. Booker T. Washington spent his early childhood as a slave on a plantation in the south. After the Emancipation Proclamation was read from the porch steps of the “Big House,” Booker’s ambitions to gain an education and make something of himself propelled him through every obstacle to his goal. Booker T. Washington was a tireless promoter of education for his race and of Tuskegee, the...more
Evelyn
Booker T. Washington is officially added to my list of favorite people. His positive and nonjudgmental attitude is exemplary in so many ways. His way of stepping back, seeing a situation for what it really is, unprejudiced by pride or excessive passion, is truly amazing. His insights are so valuable that I think this book should be required reading for everyone.

Washington was born a slave, and was about 8 years old when Emancipation came. Life was little better afterwards, though, for a while. H...more
Abby
Honesty: If I was not currently in rural Australia with only an e-reader and Project Gutenberg, I wouldn't have picked this up.

That said, I'm not sure why this narrative is not wildly popular with modern audiences. Maybe it just needs to be put on a new shelf, since it reads like one of the better-selling self-help titles: Self Sufficiency 101, Starting Your Dream NonProf/Business/Institute of Higher Education, The Key to Financial Success, The Social Benefits of Dental Hygiene, The Power of Opt...more
Alieda
Booker T Washington was a very admirable figure, but his book is pretty dull. Besides, his silences about major issues, such as racial segregation, forced disenfranchisment, violence against black people (lynchings), and violent racial uprisings in the south at this time, are, I think, loud silences which beg the question of who his audience is intended to be. Rather than as an honest autobiography, I read this book as an overt plea to the upper class whites, for funding for his school. It was m...more
Shanae
I think Up From Slavery is one of the most amazing autobiographies ever written. Booker T. Washington's autobiography was essential to creating the New Negro, the Black American who emerged today. I think Up From Slavery is a humorous and motivational work of strength, determination and perseverance.
Q
Incredible person...definitely in my top 5 people I'd most like to have dinner with (or more correctly, with whom I'd like to have dinner). He was living proof that a person's worth matters little where you start out in life and much more to do with how you choose to live that life.

For a man born into slavery in the South to have such a lifelong approach to equality for ALL people is amazing. Some of the bigotry and hate Booker T. Washington must have endured while growing up and getting educate...more
Kim
Booker T. Washington was born a slave around the year 1858-59. Slaves were set free in 1867 when Abraham Lincoln delivered his Emancipation Proclamation address. Booker then moved to West Virginia with his mother and two brothers and sister, they met up with his father. He worked as a salt grinder, worked in the mines and then as a laborer for a white lady. His goal was to get an education, he saved up to go to Hampton, working days while going to school at night. He then went back to Malden, We...more
Pete daPixie
I have plunged head first here into mid-late 19th century American history, which for me, is a murky, steaming, unknown lagoon, full of snapping reptilian creatures. Ask me who Booker T. Washington was and I would be off thinking of 'green onions' and Stax soul.
Reading this biography, first published in 1901, has exposed me to the moral and socio/political changes of post Civil War America. 'Up from Slavery' documents the incredible rise from slave plantation shanty shacks in Virginia to the 'I...more
Laine
May 23, 2008 Laine rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any person old enough to read
Recommended to Laine by: it was one that I read in high school and wanted to reaquaint my
I learned (what I had forgotten about this book) is that Booker never had trouble trusting that people would help him. He placed his trust in God and by doing so he knew that when the money was needed to build up the school at Tuskegee that it would be there. And it was and mostly from white people. it seems that they were more tolerant of the black population then that some are now. The school members worked as well as went to school and all succeeded in life. We need more of this kind of drive...more
Terence
I read this book in 2nd or 3rd grade. I can remember the scene: The teacher had spread out a group of biographies on the Willie Harris Elementary school library's table and asked us to chose one to read and do a report on. For whatever reason, I picked up Booker Washington's and enjoyed it. It was probably my first conscious introduction to slavery and blacks in American society; and his philosophy of self-reliance and education has influenced my own outlook to this day.

I don't know how I would...more
Josephalewis
"Of my father I know even less than of my mother. I do not even know his name. i have heard reports to the effect that he was a white man who lived on one of the nearby plantations... But i do not find especial fault with him. He was simply another unfortunate victim of the institution which the nation unhappily had engrafted upon it at that time.' p2
"The picture of several dozen boys and girls in a schoolroom engaged in study made a deep impression upon me, and I had the feeling that to get int...more
Vicky Kaseorg
One of the most inspiring books I have read in a long time. Refusing to accept his struggles and poverty and humble beginning as a slave to prevent him form leading a worthy life, this incredible man excels in all he does. If I were feeling sorry for myself and in a pity party, this book would snap me out of it with a resounding smack. Love the message that hard work, perseverance, Godliness, righteousness, and kindness can really change the world.
Jonathan-David Jackson
Booker T. Washington was born as a slave, received no education as a child, worked in a coal mine, sometimes slept on the street, and yet rose to national fame as an orator and educator. He raised millions of dollars for education through his Tuskegee Institute, was befriended by several Presidents, received an honorary degree from Harvard, was desired as a speaker all throughout the country, and yet, throughout the book, he hardly says anything about himself. Most of the pages are dedicated to...more
Ari
Booker T. Washington once said “no race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem”, unfortunately he spent most of his life and his second autobiography, Up From Slavery, praising only the former part of that quote. He waxes philosophically about the importance of working with one’s hands but chooses to gloss over racial injustice and the need for Black people to enter the worlds of higher-education academia, law and politics and any profess...more
Michael
Oct 23, 2011 Michael rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
A beautiful book by a remarkable man. You should read it too....mgc
Rachael Szydlowski
The first of the nonfiction books I read was Booker T. Washington’s Up From Slavery. Before reading this text, I knew very little about the accomplishments of Booker T. Washington, only being familiar with the name–knowing he was important to African American and US history, but not why.

The short text (166 pages in total) highlights Washington’s childhood days, first as a slave and then as a struggling family in West Virginia. The book next delves into his time at Hampton Institute, where he wen...more
La pointe de la sauce
'I have learnt that assistance given to the weak makes the one who gives it strong; and that oppression of the unfortunate makes one weak.'

An inspirational message of owning ones destiny through hard work in the interest of human brotherhood. I've read a few reviews which have cast Booker T as an 'Uncle Tom' or a racist appeaser, I fail to see any such message in his anti-victimization stance. His whole ethos is based on a man making his way in this world by the work of his hands, rising above o...more
Mad Dog
Feb 09, 2011 Mad Dog rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everybody as essential reading
Shelves: book-club
I am glad that I read this because BTW is a great man with a 'point of view' (looking for the good in people, looking for common ground, establishing one's value through productivity, dedication to serving others) that is refreshing. I think that he took things too far in that he was blind to some of the negative in people and he essentially believed in 'all work and no play'. But I still find him to be an inspirational man whose story is as essential to U.S. History as the stories of George Wa...more
Christine
May 02, 2012 Christine rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sudents
Recommended to Christine by: Teacher
Freed during the Reconstruction Period, former slave Booker T. Washington desired to attain a position of importance in a culture struggling to adjust to the emancipation of blacks. In his autobiography Up from Slavery, Washington continually stressed his idea that, “… there is something in human nature which always makes an individual recognize and reward merit, no matter under what colour of skin merit is found.” After he found success for himself through hard work and, often, physical labor,...more
Elizabeth
I find it interesting that Booker T. Washington had such a close family unit as a slave. In other readings we have read the young slaves have always been separated from their mothers and put in the care of a caretaker slave for most of their young life. Washington was lucky and got to keep his family. He had true support from his mother and brother that made sacrifices for each other.
In respect to Chesnutt’s story and what I commented on why we accepted happy slaves I think it applies here as w...more
Jada
Booker T. Washington was born into slavery and denied an education. After Emanciptation Proclamation it was his desire to obtain an education; he wanted something better for himself and his race. He states that because of slavery, African Americans became skillful in areas that the slaveholers weren't skillful in. Washington doesn't tell of the horrible stories of slavery but of how despite slavery (bondage) a man can move forward in his life.

Washington sat out on a journey to go to school with...more
Erik Graff
Aug 09, 2012 Erik Graff rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: slave memoir students
Recommended to Erik by: Evelyn Wood
Shelves: biography
As an ambitious freshman in high school and an admirer of purported speed-reader John F. Kennedy, I took my lawn-cutting and sidewalk-shoveling savings and applied it to tuition for Evelyn Wood's Reading Dynamics course to be taught in a basement room at the Park Ridge Inn. I was quite successful with the method, only later coming to see it as merely a form of skimming, completing the program without absences and practicing on my own.

Among the authors read were Adam Smith, Ayn Rand, Robert Louis...more
Rosanne Lortz
Born a slave in 1856, Booker T. Washington was only a child when the American Civil War commenced. After the war ended and the slaves were emancipated, young Booker moved to West Virginia with his mother, brother, and step-father. The newly freed slaves had to work hard to support themselves, and Booker (not even a teenager yet) did hard labor in the salt factories and coal mines to earn wages for the family. Even though he had few chances for education, Booker set his heart on learning to read,...more
TeacherMrLoria
Although Booker T Washington doesn't get quite the respect as Frederick Douglass or other prominent abolitionist movement leaders he does have some valid things to say and a pretty compelling story. His legacy is contriversial, as he advocated working for whites and trade school as the way to structure the black community after the abolition of slavery. Washington was big on the value of manual labor, and felt that the ability to work with one own hand's made one a stronger person and it was not...more
Rachelle
This book is the experiences from the life of Booker T. Washington as told by himself. He began life as a slave and became a great political leader and speaker. Despite his many great speeches he considers his greatest work to be that which he accomplished in behalf of the Tuskegee school which he founded and played a vital role in throughout his life. Although I read some criticism of this man... I believe that his moral character is something to be admired and to emulate. My favorite quotes fr...more
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Booker Taliaferro Washington was an American educator, orator, author and the dominant leader of the African-American community nationwide from the 1890s to his death. Born to slavery and freed by the Civil War in 1865, as a young man, became head of the new Tuskegee Institute, then a teachers' college for blacks. It became his base of operations. His "Atlanta Exposition" speech of 1895 appealed t...more
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“I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.” 357 likes
“Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.” 191 likes
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