- Series: New York Public Library Collector's Editions
- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Doubleday; New York Public Library Collector's edition (January 20, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385487290
- ISBN-13: 978-0385487290
- Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.5 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (497 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,337,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Up from Slavery with Selected Slaves Narratives (New York Public Library Collector's Editions) Hardcover – January 20, 1998
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Nineteenth-century African American businessman, activist, and educator Booker Taliaferro Washington's Up from Slavery is one of the greatest American autobiographies ever written. Its mantras of black economic empowerment, land ownership, and self-help inspired generations of black leaders, including Marcus Garvey, Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, and Louis Farrakhan. In rags-to-riches fashion, Washington recounts his ascendance from early life as a mulatto slave in Virginia to a 34-year term as president of the influential, agriculturally based Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. From that position, Washington reigned as the most important leader of his people, with slogans like "cast down your buckets," which emphasized vocational merit rather than the academic and political excellence championed by his contemporary rival W.E.B. Du Bois. Though many considered him too accommodating to segregationists, Washington, as he said in his historic "Atlanta Compromise" speech of 1895, believed that "political agitation alone would not save [the Negro]," and that "property, industry, skill, intelligence, and character" would prove necessary to black Americans' success. The potency of his philosophies are alive today in the nationalist and conservative camps that compose the complex quilt of black American society.
"It remains one of the most important works on such an influential African-American leader."--Professor Delia Crutchfield Cook, University of Maryland, KC
"This book is a must read."--Professor Warren C. Swindell, Indiana State University
"This book is definitely a classic and I have used every year im my African-American history course."--Professor W. Marvin Dulaney, College of Charleston
"Reading 'Up From Slavery' has provided my students with an opportunity to encounter a key figure in African American history on his own terms. It has provided them with greater insight into the mind of this man and his times."--C. Matthew Hawkins, Carlow College
"This is a very useful edition of one of the most important primary sources in African American history. Andrews sets it in context in a first-rate introduction."--Roy E. Finkenbine, Hampton University
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top customer reviews
Booker was wrong about some things. He was wrong about the KKK being gone for good. He was wrong about his belief in steady progress of race relations. He was also wrong about hard work always being rewarded. But that's easy for me to see now.
He was right about his faith in the goodness of individual people, people who worked (with an ethic that shames us today), who studied, who served, who taught, who gave six eggs towards the building fund. People who gave money, and people who broke down barriers, thanks to bridge builders like Mr. Washington.
This is an easy reading fairly quick book that was for me compelling and unforgettable. Mr. Washington no doubt anticipated more white people than blacks reading this book (at least initially), for the simple fact that more whites than blacks could read, and afford a book. As a college president (and founder) and by default a racial ambassador, he also nobly and deftly kept the book positive and heaped plenty of praise onto many. I don't believe he saw the world through rose colored glasses. Plenty of others would criticize our greed, injustice and prejudice. And criticize him too. Booker looked up. Thanks to him a lot more of us can too.
Amazing quotes taken from this book!
* Any man regardless of colour, will be recognized and rewarded in the proportion as he learns something well - learns to do it better than some one else. I believe my race will succeed in proportion as it learns to do common things in uncommon manner; learns to do a thing so thoroughly that no one can improve upon what has been done; learns to make its service of indispensable value.
* We shall constitute one third of the ignorance and crime of the South, or one third its intelligence and progress; we shall contribute one third to business and industrial prosperity of the South, or we shall prove a veritable body of death, stagnating, depressing, retarding every effort to advance.
* The future of the Negro rests largely upon the question as to whether or not he should make himself, through his skill, intelligence, and character, of such undeniable value to the community in which he lived that the community could not dispense with his presence.
* Those who are guilty of condemning the rich because they are rich do not know how many people would be made poor, if wealthy people were to part all at once with a large proportion of their wealth in a way to disorganize and cripple great business enterprises.
* One thing that I have always insisted upon at Tuskegee is that every where there should be absolute cleanliness, that people would excuse us for our poverty, but that they would not excuse us for dirt.
* There is something in human nature which always makes an individual recognize and reward merit, no matter under what colour of skin merit is found.
* The part that the Yankee teachers played in the education of the Negroes immediately after the war will make one of the most thrilling parts of the history of this country.
“Up From Slavery” is a powerful testimony of courage. The author was born a slave in Virginia in 1856. As a child he witnessed the end of the Civil War (1865) and came to realize the importance of education and hard work. He attended the Hampton Institute which was an industrial school for blacks in Hampton, Virginia.
Washington’s description of life as a slave and then as a free man is both vivid and compelling. Through his words we learn what it was like to live in a “home” with a dirt floor; to have no expectation of daily food; no clothing except what was being worn. Slaves at the time had only one name - their given name with no surname. In fact, after the Civil War and the new found freedom, one of the first things they did was to take a surname. What could this large group of oppressed and uneducated people, now freed from the bonds of slavery, do with their lives? Freedom meant they would be on their own and no longer living on the property of another. For the first time in their lives, they were able to exercise their God-given free will. But they were not prepared for this and many suffered as a result.
Rather than bend to the harsh reality of his life as a freed slave, Washington focused on the value he offered to others. For example, he wrote: “I had rather be what I am, a member of the Negro race, than be able to claim membership with the most favored of any other race.” And “…mere connection with what is known as a superior race will not permanently carry an individual forward unless he has individual worth, and mere connection with what is regarded as an inferior race will not finally hold an individual back if he possesses intrinsic, individual merit.” This basic drive and his passion for education, training and hard work kept him grounded and focused throughout his life. As he stated it: “I think that the whole future of my race hinges on the question as to whether or not it can make itself of such indispensable value that the people in the town and the state where we reside will feel that our presence is necessary to the happiness and well-being of the community.”
Washington died in 1915. He left an indelible mark on America, our society and on race relations. If Black American leaders decades later in American history, had taken lessons from him, our country and our racial relations would be better than they are today.