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Booker T. Washington

In 1872, Booker T. Washington traveled 500 miles on foot to the Hampton Institute in Virginia. That journey, in turn, laid the foundation — not only for his own education — but his life’s mission to empower and compel black people to invest in industrial education.

Washington’s bright mind and forward thinking led him to become the principal and leader at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama in 1881. He would go on to gain national notoriety as a lecturer and influencer. While the content of his speeches promoted black growth at its heart, it would be a speech in 1895, the “Atlanta Compromise,” that rattled many black followers.

In this episode of Black History in Two Minutes or So hosted by Henry Louis Gates Jr. — with additional commentary from Farah Griffin of Columbia University, Shawn Alexander from the University of Kansas, Chad Williams of Brandeis University, Kimberlé Crenshaw of UCLA and Columbia law schools, and Hasan Jeffries of Ohio State University — we honor the legacy of Washington. The celebrated orator and author’s contributions are still felt in society today, and he’s a visionary who recognized that investing in ourselves would lead to successes unseen.

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