Booker T. Washington

Commemorative Coin Project

Booker T. Washington

Born on April 5, 1856 in Virginia as a African American slave. Died on November 14, 1915 at the age of 59 from congestive heart failure.

Family Information

Booker T. Washington's mother was known as Jane, a slave and his father was an unknown white man. When he was 9 his mom married Washington Ferguson. Later Booker T. Washington married Fannie Smith in 1881.


Washington in 1872 attended Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in Virginia, he walked 500 miles to get there. He worked as a janitor to help pay his tuition.The founder and headmaster of the school, General Samuel C. Armstrong, offered him a scholarship because he was a hard worker. He graduated in 1875 Wayland Seminary in Washington D.C. He became a headmaster of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute. The school became successful.

Awards and Honors

  1. Theodore Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington to the White House. He was the first African American to be invited.
  2. Invited to speak at the 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta
  3. On April 7, 1940, Washington became the first African American to be depicted on a United States postage stamp. Several years later, he was honored on the first coin to feature an African American, the Booker T. Washington Memorial Half Dollar, which was minted by the United States from 1946 to 1951. He was also depicted on a U.S. Half Dollar from 1951–1954
  4. He went on to receive honorary degrees from Harvard University (1896) and Dartmouth College (1901).

Contributions to Education

Washington believed that the best interests of black people in the post-Reconstruction era could be realized through education in the crafts and industrial skills and the cultivation of the virtues of patience, enterprise, and thrift. He urged his fellow blacks, most of whom were impoverished and illiterate farm laborers, to temporarily abandon their efforts to win full civil rights and political power and instead to cultivate their industrial and farming skills so as to attain economic security. Blacks would thus accept segregation and discrimination, but their eventual acquisition of wealth and culture would gradually win for them the respect and acceptance of the white community. This would break down the divisions between the two races and lead to equal citizenship for blacks in the end. In his epochal speech (Sept. 18, 1895) to a racially mixed audience at the Atlanta (Ga.) Exposition, Washington summed up his pragmatic approach in the famous phrase: “In all things that are purely social we can be separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.”

Booker T. Washington Quote

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.”


Works Cited

"Booker T. Washington Biography - Facts, Birthday, Life Story -"

Famous Biographies & TV Shows - N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Feb. 2013. <>.

" Booker T. Washington, 1856-1915 ." Documenting the American South homepage. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Feb. 2013. <>.

"Booker T. Washington - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Feb. 2013. <>.

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