Booker Taliaferro Washington (April 5, 1856, – November 14, 1915) was an American educator, author and leader of the African American community.
Washington was born into slavery to a white father and a black slave mother on a rural farm in southwestern Virginia. After the slaves were freed there in 1865, he worked in West Virginia in a variety of menial labor jobs for several years before making his way to Hampton Roads seeking an education. He worked his way through the school which is now Hampton University and attended college at Wayland Seminary. After returning to Hampton as a teacher, upon recommendation of Hampton's president, Sam Armstrong, he was named in 1881 as the first leader of the new normal school which became Tuskegee University in Alabama.
Read Up from Slavery: an autobiography by Booker T. Washington, one of three of his works presented free by Project Gutenberg.