Booker T. Washington

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Booker T. Washington in 1903

Booker Taliaferro Washington (April 5, 1856, – November 14, 1915) was an American political leader, teacher and author. He was born into slavery, but was freed in 1865. He was one of the most important people in African American history in the United States from 1890 to 1915.

Washington helped start the Tuskegee Institute, which was a university for black students, after attending the Hampton Institute. Washington believed that in order to create a peaceful post-slavery society, black and white people needed to "cast down the bucket" and become friends with each other. He saw violence and protests against discrimination of blacks as holding grudges between the races. Washington also stated that freed blacks should not aim for Congress right away, they needed to start by being able to support themselves economically.