Booker Taliaferro Washington was born on April 5,1856 in Franklin County, Virginia. Washington gained an early appreciation for the values of family and education. Booker had been blessed with an intact family, with one exception of having a white father who never contributed to his life and whose identity Washington never acknowledged. From the lifelong inspiration of his mother, Jane, Booker learned lasting lessons of courage, perseverance, resourcefulness, and positive concepts, which influenced many of his later philosophies and attitudes about women and family.
Washington had spent nine years in slavery, with the last five years surrounded by the physical, political, economic, and moral issues of the Civil War. According to child psychologist Arnold Gesell, the nine years that Washington spent in slavery were crucial to his development and ideology. To look at Booker's life you have to incorporate these developmental years because they greatly impact how he would pioneer educational progress for black adults.
After the Emancipation, the family moved to West Virginia where it struggled to achieve a normal life. Young Booker attended a school for the children of ex-slaves while at the same time, holding down a full time job in the mines. As a cooperative, hardworking young man he secured a job cleaning and doing other tasks around the house of one of the mine owners. This was less strenuous than working in the mines, and it left him more energy to pursue his studies. From the peculiar institution of slavery Washington had emerged with a strong sense of self and an unshakable identity of his race. His faith and racial pride elevated his unique leadership and gave him strong direction.
Booker T. Washington through his teachings and writings had a profound impact on the social and political conditions of African Americans. A strong portion of Washington's contributions came from his straightforward philosophies such as the one indicating social change.