Booker T. Washington's Views on Education

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Noah Webster's Impact on Education

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:02 Meet Booker T. Washington
  • 1:03 A Path to Education
  • 2:03 Washington's Impact on…
  • 5:59 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Adam Jordan

Adam is a special educator with a Ph.D. in Education

Booker T. Washington was the founder of the renowned Tuskegee University, a dedicated activist, and a driven educator. In this video, we will take a look at his life, legacy, and impact on education.

Meet Booker T. Washington

Before we take a formal look at Booker T. Washington, pause for a moment and consider this scenario: The year is 1856, just a few years before the start of the American Civil War. It's also the year you were born. Your mother is a slave on a Virginia plantation, which means you are also a slave the moment you enter the world. You won't know your father. He is a white man who will never claim you, possibly because of the social stigma that would be attached to fathering a child with an African American slave. As a slave, you have no rights. It's even illegal for you to learn to read. Doesn't sound like a very promising beginning, does it? The outlook isn't so good. Well, that is the story of Booker T. Washington, and despite that difficult beginning, he was able to become one of the most influential African Americans of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

A Path to Education

Part of what makes Booker T. Washington so unique is his determination to overcome obstacles. His path to education is certainly no different. Washington would begin the literal journey towards an education in 1872. He would walk more than 500 miles to the Hampton Normal Agricultural Institute in Virginia. He would work hard, perform well, and gain the respect of many along his path to graduation in 1875. His connection to Hampton would prove to be quite valuable. He continued to stay connected with the institute post-graduation by teaching at the institute. In 1881, funding was approved for a colored school in Alabama, and Washington was appointed as the leader of the institute. The institute was the famous Tuskegee Institute located in Tuskegee, Alabama. Under Washington's leadership, this institute would become one of the most esteemed places in higher learning in the country.

Washington's Impact on Education

Clearly a man of high intelligence and possessing a strong work ethic, it is easy to imagine that Washington was a man who impacted others. As an African American man working predominately in the Post-Civil War Deep South, it is also easy to imagine that Washington met his fair share of struggles. In terms of Washington's impact on education, it was an interconnectedness of the power of his life philosophy as well as his work at Tuskegee. Under the guidance of Washington, the Tuskegee Institute would become one of the most esteemed places of higher learning in the country. It was an opportunity for people of color to receive a quality, high-level education that would empower them to navigate an extremely difficult economy and social structure. Not only did Washington work to make sure the curriculum at Tuskegee was rigorous and innovative, but he worked to make sure there was a values component. Washington believed it was important that young African Americans learn to be patient and hard working. These were the tenets of his philosophy. While this seems like a benign philosophy, it sometimes was ill received.

Washington believed that in order for African Americans to begin to receive equal treatment to their white counterparts, there would be some aspects of life that would just have to be accepted. He believed that one of the unfortunate truths of his time was that African Americans would often need to remain submissive to whites when it came to equal treatment and employment opportunities. While remaining submissive, he believed that African Americans needed to remain diligent in demonstrating incredible work ethic, intelligence, and value. He felt that over time this would result in gained respect and thus more equal treatment. He believed that it was perfectly acceptable for African Americans to remain socially segregated. For Washington, it was possible for both African Americans and whites to gain equal status and provide equal societal contributions while remaining essentially separate.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account