Booker T. Washington, Virginia



It was Edmond Burke who said “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. This saying has been used thousands of times since it was first created. Perhaps one of the most famous people who pronounced this timeless saying on more than one occasion was Winston Churchill. He was often heard repeating these words at some of the most intense and difficult moments during WW II. There really is a great truth behind this saying. This is the main reason why certain people with not so honorable intentions attempted and succeeded to exploit the saying for their own, selfish motives. Nevertheless, the significance and meaning behind such a simple combination of words has had an immense impact on the way people are called to action.



Being Able To See The Essence


Because that is what it essentially is – a call to action! If you concentrate on the words hard enough and try to make out what they really mean, there is only one conclusion you will be able to draw out. That conclusion is – get up and fight; sitting down and hoping that someone else will do it for you is just plain stupid! Throughout history there have been many examples of people taking the saying literally and reacting to it energetically. However, there have also been those who understood it on a deeper and more profound level. They understood that physical confrontation is not and must not be the only way to fight. They realized that wars must be waged on a philosophical, intellectual and educational level as well. They saw through violence and strived to fight with intelligence rather than arms. One of the most amazing examples of such a struggle is a man known as Booker T. Washington.



A Short Recap



Booker T. Washington was born on the 5th of April, 1856. Since he was born a slave, he spent his childhood working on a tobacco farm in Piedmont, Virginia that covered an area of 207 acres (or 0.90 km2). The tobacco farm was owned by a man called James Burroughs. After the Civil War, Booker T. Washington founded the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial School. At the same time, he was also named the first principal of the school. The Tuskegee Normal and Industrial School was later transformed into the Tuskegee Institute. In the later period, Booker T. Washington would become an orator, author and an adviser. Eventually, he would be known as one of the most influential African Americans of his time.



Education Proved Vital



Booker T. Washington had a white father and a slave mother when he was born on the tobacco farm in southwestern Virginia. Born into slavery, he followed the emancipation in 1862 and managed to go through the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute. This institute is now known as Hampton University. Afterwards, he attended college at the Wayland Seminary. Upon returning to Hampton with the vocation of a teacher, Booker T. Washington was proclaimed the first leader of Alabama’s new Tuskegee Institute.



The Life And Purposeful Work Of Booker T. Washington



It was not until 1895 that Booker T. Washington became widely known in the United States. That was the year he held his Atlanta Address. His words were so inspiring and powerful that he eventually became a popular spokesperson for millions of African American citizens. Furthermore, he started working with philanthropists, educators and politicians for the purpose of wining the support of the liberal whites and, of course, the black community. The establishment and operation of thousands of community institutions and schools all over the South was the focal point of Booker T. Washington’s fund raising endeavor.



Eventually, Booker T. Washington released “Up From Slavery” in 1901. This was his autobiography, which serves as a sort of chronicle of different events from his dynamic and difficult life. Some of those events describe everything from his slave childhood during the Civil War, including his Tuskegee Institute days, to his struggle to help the black people. Additionally, his autobiography also depicts his help to numerous other minorities who were, at the time, in a very difficult position. He taught them to work towards equality as well as many useful skills for everyday life.



All It Took Was A Century



Interestingly enough, exactly 100 years since his birth, on the 5th of April, 1956 – the birth house of Booker T. Washington was designated a National Monument.  Located near the town of Hardy in Franklin County, Virginia, the National Monument area also encompasses portions of the tobacco farm on which Washington was born. The National Monument offers different perspectives and illustrations of the achievements and life of Booker T. Washington. It also provides an interpretation of the farming and slavery of the 1850’s by using animals, crafts, gardens and buildings.



The park is open for visitors all year long, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 7 days a week. Although, don’t make the mistake of attempting to visit the park on either the 1st of January, the 25th of December or Thanksgiving Day. Well, you can try, but you will be kissing the lock on the gate. Additionally, you will be glad to know that visiting this National Monument will cost you $0. You can also make reservations for group tours, under the condition that there are 5 or more visitors.





Besides the house and farm themselves, there are plenty of other interesting things you will be able to see in the park. The Plantation Trail is a loop of a quarter mile length that passes by some farm buildings that are reconstructed to look like they were made in the 19th century. The Jack-O-Lantern Heritage Trail goes through forests and fields for 1.5 miles. The Visitor Center is a great place to see an audio-visual orientation of Washington’s life, as well as several exhibits. The Farm Area is a recreation of an 1850’s tobacco farm. It features different types of animals that were around at the time Washington lived. Finally, you can check out a number of ranger-guided walking tours. You can go on a tour any day from the 1st of September – 31st of May and the 1st of June – 31st of August. These tours are offered on Saturdays and Sundays only, starting at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

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