Up from Slavery, an autobiography by Booker T. Washington, is an inspiring book about motivation, instruction and the belief in oneself.  As Washington recounts his life and his rise from slavery to higher education, he reminds 21st century readers of the age-old truths behind success and character building and that there are no shortcuts in life.

Booker T. Washington at his desk at the Tuskegee Institute

Booker T. Washington at his desk at the Tuskegee Institute

As a young man Washington’s hunger for education led him to the Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) in Virginia. After graduation Washington worked as an educator. Later in life, he felt a calling towards influencing higher education and founded the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Washington served as president of the Tuskegee Institute until his death in 1915.

Washington’s writing style is simple and easily understood. Yet, he gives the reader profound thoughts to ponder. For example, Mr. Washington wrote, “Education is not a thing apart from life – not a ‘system,’ nor a philosophy. It is direct teaching how to live and how to work.”

In Up From Slavery, hard, physical labor is put on a pedestal right alongside knowledge. Hand-in-hand, Washington teaches that both are required for success and good character. Mike Rowe would have loved this guy.

The life of Booker T. Washington, his words and his actions are filled with valuable lessons for anyone who will listen. I absolutely loved this book and will read it over and over. Up From Slavery lifted my spirits and at the same time gave me a good swift kick in the pants!

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