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Archive civil rights
Booker T Washington Booker T Washington and the politics of Accommodation Booker T Washington was the last of the major black leaders to be born in slavery, on a small farm in West Virginia, in 1856. Growing up during the reconstruction era in West Virginia, as far as he was concerned, the Reconstruction experiment in racial democracy failed because it began at the wrong end, emphasising political means and civil rights acts, rather than economic means and self determination. As far as he was concerned black were toiling upward from slavery, by their own efforts into the American middle class, and social peace was required to continue the steady social evolution. He did not offer blacks the empty promises of the mainstream establishment, but a solid programe of economic and educational progress through struggle. He thought it right to speak out against injustice, which deemed neccessary, but insufficient, and thought that factional dissent among black leaders was self defeating and should be surpressed. Washington brought to the role of black leadership the talent and outlook of machine boss. He made the Tuskegee Institute the largest and best supported black eduactional institute of his day, and created a large network of other industrial schools. He opposed the Grandfather Clause and every other southern devise designed to stop blacks from voting. Among his qualities as a leader he had the ability to make both black and white believe that he was on their side and that he understood them and agreed with them. He would often alternately address the two groups in the same forum, reassuring whites that blacks should cooperate with their white neighbours in all constructive efforts, but saying to blacks that in their cooperation there should be " no unmanly cowering or stooping. He believed that black development should travel along the line of least resistence which at times brought him into conflict with other leaders. Tuskegee however was a model establishment, Washington had built up a regional constituency of farmers, artisans, country teachers, small business, he expanded the Tuskegee machine nationawide and exceeded the size of the town where it was located. Tuskegee was the first all black faculty, it tought self determination, and trades designed for econmic independence in a region dominted by sharecrop culture. He was not nicknamed the wizard for nothing.