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Washington, Booker T. (1856 – 1915)

Price: $345.00


African-American educator, author, orator and adviser to US presidents. Between 1890-1915, Washington was the preeminent leader in the African-American community.

Signed and dated business card, adding Tuskegee, Alabama, September 1908.The reverse exhibits traces of mounting and generalized scuffing, while the autograph side is very good. Comes with small black and white reprint portrait

Washington was from the last generation of black American leaders born into slavery who became the leading voice of former slaves and their descendants. They were newly-oppressed in the South by disenfranchisement and the Jim Crow discriminatory laws enacted in the post-Reconstruction Southern states in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Washington’s base was the Tuskegee Institute, a historically-black college in Alabama.  As lynchings in the South reached a peak in 1895, Washington gave a speech, known as the “Atlanta Compromise,” that brought him national fame.  He called for black progress through education and entrepreneurship, rather than by trying to directly challenge the Jim Crow segregation of black voters in the South. Washington mobilized a nationwide coalition of middle-class blacks, church leaders, and while philanthropists and politicians, with a long-term goal of building the community’s economic strength and pride by a focus on self-help and schooling.

Washington mastered the nuances of the political arena in the late 19th century, which enabled him to manipulate the media, raise money, strategize, network, pressure, reward friends and distribute funds while punishing those who opposed his plans for uplifting blacks.  His long-term goal was to end the disenfranchisement of the vast majority of African Americans who still lived in the South.

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