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The Five Most Important Ideas In Up From Slavery

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“Up from Slavery” is an autobiography written by Booker T. Washington. The book mainly talks about Washington’s life and how he had over come a lot of obstacles to reach his success. The book teaches us a lot of things, some of them are still useful today. There are five significant ideas that Booker wanted the readers to learn from his book; these five things are: education, slavery, work, the relationship between two races and the meaning of success.

The most obvious and significant idea of this book is the value of education. As a young man, Washington used to admire a man who can read the newspaper for the people in his town. He realized the important of education; he said “The picture of several dozen boys and girls in a school room engaged in study made a deep impression upon me.” (7) Despite the fact that he was born a slave and he had to work hard in order to survive, Washington never once gives up on the thought of learning. He said “I remembered only that I was on fire constantly with one ambition, and that was to go to Hampton.” (Page 43) With only a little money he saved from working at the coal-mine and at Mrs. Ruffner’s, he walked over two hundred miles to the Hampton Institute to seek for a better education. Through this, we learn a lesson from Washington, that education is indeed very important and it is even more important now a day because you can’t get any kind of job without an education.

The second idea that Washington wanted to address in his autobiography is the affect of slavery. He believed that slavery had not only affected the Black but also the White race. Washington described his life as a slave boy at the plantation as “the most miserable, desolate, and discouraging...” (Page 1) He had to work hard from a very young age and had to sleep on the floor of a small cabin which was the home of his five-member-family. Obviously, the African-American had struggle through the terrible impact of slavery. However, not only the African-American, but slavery also affected the White race. One of the examples is the Civil War; Booker once addressed “… There was bitter feeling toward the white people on the part of my race, because of the fact that most of the white population was always fighting in a war which should result in keeping the Negro in slavery if the South was successful.” (Page 12) This idea, however, is not important in the year of 2008 because slavery is a subject_ a time period in which Americans are trying hard to forget.

The third idea that Washington wanted us to learn is the dignity of work. The greatest lesson he learned through the four years he spent in Hampton’s Institute was the love for labour. He stated “At Hampton I not only learned that it was not a disgrace to labour, but learned to love labour, not alone for its financial value but for labour’s own sake and for the independence and self-reliance which the ability to do something which the world wants done brings.” (Page 73) He later on taught this lesson to his own students at the Tuskegee Institute. The student learned to love working as much as they love to study. This idea is still important today because everyone need to work no matter how much



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