The Slave Boy Who Became a Great Leader: Booker T. Washington

By means of very hard work Booker T. Washington managed to save enough money to start him on the road to the school, which was known as Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute. After many hardships and bitter experiences, he arrived there, but when he presented himself before the head teacher she hesitated about taking him in.

Booker T. Washington

He was tired after the long, weary journey, and his clothes were worn threadbare. He looked like a worthless tramp. After some hesitation the teacher gave him a broom and told him to sweep a room. Did he sweep that room clean? He never tackled anything with so much delight. He swept it then dusted it four times. He rubbed every piece of furniture in that room until it shone. He felt that his future depended upon the way he cleaned that room. When he had finished, the head teacher came and examined his work. She couldn’t find a particle of dust anywhere. “I guess you will do to enter this institution,” she said. Booker T. Washington went on to become one of the greatest orators in the United States. Often he made speeches before tremendous audiences, and he always succeeded in raising the white man’s idea of the coloured people. He became a close personal friend of Grover Cleveland, at that time President of the United States, and several times he was invited to the White House to be guest of the President. Later he visited England, and was welcomed by Queen Victoria and many of the most distinguished people of Great Britain. He received the honourary degree of Master of Arts from Harvard University, and it is safe to say that the little negro boy, who began life under such great handicaps, became one of the most highly respected of the world’s citizens. To read the full story about Booker T. Washington and his journey to a position of influence despite being raised in slavery, look for “Boys of Grit Who Became Men of Honour” available at


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