Booker T. Washington was famous for representing the blacks in terms of enterprise and their civilization. This was as a result of the efforts that he had put to gain success while working in the coal mines and salt furnaces. He later succeeded in developing the Tuskegee Institute. He was also involved in the fight for equality between the whites and the blacks who were commonly known as Negros.
Washington was born into slavery on 5th April, 1856. His mother was a slave. Due to this fact, he was automatically the property of his mother’s master (Washington 4). As a young boy, he believed that he could help his poor parents out of their poverty by working with his hands.
In his early days, he worked for a white family. His first task was to cut grass within the compound. Since there were no lawn-mowers back then, Washington had to go down on his knees to cut it using his sickle. In his first attempts to please his employer, he did not succeed but he later learnt to cut the grass so smooth that someone could think that a lawn-mower had been used.
With this achievement, he felt some sense of pride and when he learnt that all these came about from the use of his hands, his whole nature started to change. His self-esteem also increased as he realized that he was able to do things and do them perfectly. As the days passed, he started reaping from his hard and good work. He even started to find himself engrossed in thoughts all night thinking of how he would make his work even better. Later on in life, he went and worked at the mines and salt furnaces and there, he was also satisfied with his work (Washington 17).
It was through his experience in using his hands that led him to go all the way to the Hampton Institute where he learnt that students could not only have had their minds trained but also their hands. At the institute, he realized that the use of hands was part of the student’s life. This is because they were taught how to make their own beds and to tidy up their rooms.
The other lesson in training the hands was that of raising food from the farms at school and the proper ways of how to cook and serve it. In the early years of the institution, they learnt some techniques on wood and iron-work which gave them knowledge in making and maintaining farm equipment and buildings.
The work at school and the farm had similar influence on his view and value for education. He soon understood the distinction between studying about stuff and studying the stuff itself. He also saw the connection between following instructions in the book and its application in practical sessions.
These experiences in his life were important in his preparation for the work ahead at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. He was about to enrich the lives of the many unfortunate people by founding an institute that would offer service to these people.
Since he needed to understand what these people went through, he visited the places where the people lived and also slept inside the small cabins and ate their food. He saw the irony in the way the people lived. Some of them were educated but did not see how that reflected in the way they lived.
In this book Washington demonstrates how it is better to start from the bottom and work your way up to the top. He began as a gardener and a worker at the mines and the furnaces but ended up establishing the Tuskegee Institute that was to give service to the people who were living miserable lives. He was also a speaker for his race as he spoke openly about his belief that the blacks could actually work hard and establish themselves through hard work and education.
Washington, Booker. Up from Slavery: An Autobiography. New York: Doubleday, page, 1901. Print.