Booker T. Washington

Booker T. Washington was a prominent black leader who helped expand the nineteenth century boundaries of freedom. He redefined his objectives to fit blacks in with the new economical framework of the United States. Washington emphasized economic self-help and individual advancement into the middle class for African Americans. He gave a speech at the Atlanta Cotton Exposition that urged blacks to adjust to segregation.

Washington was born a slave and studied as a young man at Hampton Institute, Virginia. He believed that obtaining farms or skilled jobs was more important for African-Americans that recently emerged from slavery. This was more important than the rights of citizenship. He was motivated in urging blacks not to fight segregation, but to seek help of white employers and unionize.

1) Why do you believe that obtaining jobs for African Americans was more important than the rights of citizenship?

2) Why did you urge the adjustment to segregation for blacks instead of combating?

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