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Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington
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May 16, 2011

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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 created an enduring black institution that still exists--Tuskegee University; he also created an ideology of self-help that was adopted by both Marcus Garvey and Elijah Muhammad.
When Paul Laurence Dunbar wrote the poem, "We Wear the Mask", he must have had Washington in mind because to this day no one knows who the real Booker T. Washington was: clever manipulator, servile Uncle Tom, or "Wizard of Tuskegee." Even Ralph Ellsion alludes to Washington and Tuskegee in his magnum opus, "Invisible Man." Love him or loathe him, Booker T. Washington was one of the most important African Americans of the 20th Century. And his autobiography is must reading. One should read DuBois's "The Souls of Black Folk" for contrast.
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Poyntell Johnson David, I disagree with you! Washington, whether a "clever manipulator" or not, he did what needed to be done to get his school opened!!! He also proved that hard work and perseverance pay off. He taught his students skills, skills and more skills, besides academics. How many of today's children have < half the skills that those kids acquired during their studies under Washington? Most of these children have never picked up a shovel!!!! There are few if any self-help students today. Most wants things and grades "given" to them with NO work!!! Oh, and, by the way, I've read DuBois's "The Soul of Black Folk!" I found it much more depressing than "Up From Slavery!"

message 2: by David (last edited Jun 07, 2015 03:12PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

David DuBois was one of the greatest minds of the 20th Century. Yes, I applaud Washington for his emphasis on self-help, but he was an accommodationist on segregation, lynching, and racism. DuBois told the truth which was depressing. Maybe you should read more African American history or Native American history. America does not have shining history.
Remember: DuBois wrote his own books and articles. "Up From Slavery" was ghost written as a piece of propaganda.

Alex I also got the feeling of that "Up From Slavery" was written as sort of a PR campaign and had alterior motives than to just tell of Washington's life. I get the sense that he wasn't telling the whole truth, but just that which catered to his cause, which was the success of his school, but there is something else too that I can't quite wrap my mind around. I was surprised when it was mentioned in the book that a Rockerfeller was a financial supporter of the school. He is very mysterious indeed. Great review.

message 4: by Sidney (new) - added it

Sidney Henriquez Booker T. Washington understood the black man's struggle and lot in a sinful world and sought to focus the black man on work and not anger or revenge. As the great book says, "Vengeance is mine I will repay says the Lord".

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