image of Booker T. Washington

Booker T. Washington was born in 1856, in Franklin County, Virginia. He was born into slavery and was freed at 9 years old at the close of the Civil War. After graduating, Booker T. Washington established and became the first principal and teacher of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Opened in 1881, the school taught academic as well as practical skills (like farming and blacksmithing) to newly freed African Americans. In the beginning, Booker T. Washington taught 30 students in a one-room shack and an empty church. But in just 15 years, thanks to his leadership and influence, the school soon grew to 800 students, 79 teachers, and 30 buildings. Booker T. Washington became the first African American to be invited to the White House in 1901 when President Theodore Roosevelt invited him to dine with him. In 1901, Booker T. Washington published his autobiography titled Up from Slavery.