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Uplift: 3 Ways Booker T. Washington’s Philosophy Can Inspire You!

I took a class at my local community college in African American Literature. I had to write a paper comparing the methods of W.E.B Du Bois and Booker T. Washington and their methods for uplifting the African American community.

After doing considerable research I found myself agreeing with Booker T. Washington and his philosophy. I’ve become a big admirer of Booker T. Washington’s philosophy on race, love, community, personal development and God ever since.

Booker T. Washington’s two claims to fame were his building up of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and his Atlanta Compromise speech given at the Cotton States Exposition in Atlanta in 1895. In this speech, Booker T. Washington encouraged blacks to uplift themselves through vocational training, personal development and thrift. 

How can we do the same?

  • How can we uplift our minds? 
  • How we can lift up ourselves?
  • How can we lift up others?


Keep reading to find out how…


Lift up your mind:


Washington argued for an industrial education but he never ignored the liberal arts.


He pushed the African-American community to read whatever they could get their hands on to pursue lifelong learning.  

Source: Library of Congress
History Class at Tuskegee Institute


Thanks to the internet, we have access to information on just about anything we can think of.  It has never been easier to learn a new skill or study a topic that interests you!


The important thing is to never stop challenging your mind…


Step 1: Look for ways to       expand your mind.


One of the easiest ways to do this is to find a good book to read.


Many studies have shown that reading is a proven way to expand your intellect and make you more empathetic.


This is especially true of novels and short stories but also nonfiction. Check out thousands of ebooks online here and here.


If ebooks aren’t your thing, visit your local library or bookstore to find books in print.


Create your own books!


Booker T. Washington wrote several books throughout his lifetime.


All filled with his ideas and philosophies on developing character and integrity in the individual.


Up From Slavery, The New Negro and Character Building to name a couple.


His books inspired thousands across the United States in his day.


I’ve heard so many people say “I want to write a book one day.”


And they never do it.




Life gets in the way. Kids, work, school, football.


I say, if you really want to make a dream come true, you have to make time for it!


If you’re an aspiring author, go ahead and write and self-publish your own book!


Print Shop, Tuskegee


I wrote my first novel in 2016 called Where The Rivers Meet and used KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing).


KDP is Amazon’s self-publishing service.


It allows you to upload a PDF of your manuscript and upload it to their platform and sell your book in print or eBook for to Amazon!


You can also use Smashwords or PublishDrive.


It’s never been easier to write and publish a book and get it in front of people!


You just need to make time for it!


I would strongly recommend that you pick up a book and read but…


You can always find a podcast to listen to. 


Pretty much any place that you normally stream music online, you can find a podcast.


Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora or podsearch.


And guess what?


You can create your own podcasts for a very affordable price!


You don’t need to buy an expensive microphone, soundboard, DJ set or even dedicate a room in your house for a recording studio covered in acoustic panels!


You can create your own podcast FOR FREE on


All you have to do is download the app to your phone, hold it up to your ear just like you’re having a normal conversation, and press record.


When you’re finished with your awesome episode press stop and upload!


Those are just two ways that you can expand your mind.


There are many more out there!


Step 2: Go back to school 


We are blessed to live in a time where most people in the West have access to good education online and offline.


Booker T. Washington had to fight for his education.


Once slavery was eradicated in the South in 1865, he and his mother moved to Malden, West Virginia to live with his stepfather. He working in the salt mines while teaching himself to read and write. Later on, he worked as a  houseboy in the Ruffner Household. Viola Ruffner, impressed by his hard-work and maturity allowed him to go to school for a short time.

Booker T. Washington residence at Tuskegee Institute.


He left at 16 for Hampton Institute, on foot.


A journey of at least 500 hundred miles.


Once there he worked as a janitor to pay for his tuition.



Nowadays, you don’t even need to leave your couch to pursue an education.


There are several sites where you can access online courses for free!


If you are looking to get a new degree, you can do a simple google search and find accredited universities offering online courses.


Once you feel like you’re a guru….


Yep. You knew what was coming next..


You can create and sell your own courses!


This is a great way to build your following especially if you’re a writer (like me) or in some other information niche!


But anyone can do it. You don’t need to have a college degree. You just need to have the knowledge and a desire to share it with the world!


Anyone at any age can expand their mind. Booker T. Washington was a prolific reader and writer. He never stopped learning and neither should we!

Uplift yourself


Booker T. Washington began his leadership of Tuskegee Institute at a time of great racial oppression in the South.


Lynchings and other atrocities were widespread.


In light of this, Washington encouraged his students to work on building and exercising good character. Booker T. Washington was also a man of faith and stressed that his students adopt Christian virtues.


Step 1: Analyze yourself


Ask yourself these questions:


  • Who am I?
  • Who do I want to be?
  • Where am I going?


Write down your answers to these questions. Consider forming them into a manifesto! Take some time and really reflect on your own character, morals and values.


Step 2: Set Goals


Washington had many dreams for Tuskegee. He traveled around the northern states to conduct fundraising and gain support for the school. He had many benefactors including Andrew Carnegie!


By simply setting goals you will be setting yourself up for success.


Don’t get me wrong, you don’t need to set huge goals. Think the areas in your own life where you can improve. Be it your health, relationships, finances, spiritual life, or career.


Write down your goals and create a plan to help you reach them.


There are severals apps that can help you do that. I personally use Todobit it allows me to set goals, plan tasks, schedule and take notes.


On top of that it has analytics so I can track my habits.


Step 3: Have Faith


Booker T. Washington was a man of God and ,as I mentioned before, encouraged his students to read the bible and live with Christian virtues.

Chapel at Tuskegee Institute


As a Christian myself I’m going to take this a step further..


I believe that we are all made in the image of God and He has a plan for each of us. We have to surrender our lives to His will and trust him.


As we live according to His will, we will bear the fruits of the Spirit, and those are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

I expound on the matters of faith more in Fog Fall  and Stranger in a Wasteland

Lift up others


Tuskegee Institute wasn’t just a University for the newly-freed African- Americans to pursue higher education in the agriculture and industry.


It was a school to train teachers of Agriculture and industry!


Booker T. Washington did a great service to the often impoverished and rural southern black community by providing them with the tools and education they needed to succeed.


Step 1: Look for a need.


What issues, injustices, or sufferings make your blood boil? What knots you up inside?


Go online and find a cause or charity that you could donate to, volunteer at or pray for.


But let’s be honest. You don’t need look further than your own community to find a place where you could serve.


Washington, knew very well that there was countless rural black communities that were unskilled and trapped in the debt cycle of sharecropping.

Field work at Tuskegee


He knew that if they just had the training and education in skilled trades, they could become economically self-sufficient


Step 2: Gather Tools


Remember earlier how I asked you to take an assessment of yourself?


Add your skills, gifts and talents to that list.


You could easily use them to make a difference in your community!


Are you a good leader?


Get other hands aboard your ship!

(left to right) Robert C. Ogden, Sen. William Taft, Booker T. Washington and Andrew Carnegie.

Start your own charity!


Raise funds if you need to.


Booker T. Washington spent a considerable amount of time raising money for Tuskegee. Supplies, books, tools, food etc.



He worked tirelessly until his last breath.


He believed that strongly in work that Tuskegee was doing.


Step 3: Execute


Tuskegee Institute had a “Jesup Wagon” which was a portable agricultural school.

Founded by George Washington Carver, the Jesup Wagon took those needed resources directly to the farmers and taught the latest agricultural methods, all for free.


This step is obviously very simple.


Depending on what you’re doing, it may be easier said than done.


But you should still try!




We can all look for ways to empower and encourage those around us. If it’s volunteering at a soup kitchen, or mentoring youth in your area or even as simple as taking the time to encourage and love on someone. You never know the impact you might make on someone’s life. Make sure it’s a positive one!


Don’t forgot about yourself though!


Remember who you are and where you’re going! If you don’t know figure it out!


Sit down with a good book.


Put some earphones on and listen to a good podcast!


Take a class! Online or offline!


And then…


Create a book


Create a podcast!


Create an online class!


Start a charity!


Start a charity!


Give back to the community.




If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else  -Booker T. Washington


Link to Washington quotes: Washington Quotes
Library on BTW society: Books

What are you doing to uplift yourself and others? Let me know in the comments!

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