We shall prosper in proportion as we learn to
dignify and glorify labor and put brains and skill
into the common occupations of life.
Washington Goes to the Hampton Institute
In 1872, Washington quit his job in
the Ruffners' home. He left for the Hampton Institute. The Hampton Institute
was more than 300 miles from Malden, West Virginia, where he lived. To get
there, Washington walked, hitched buggy rides from other travelers, and sometimes
jumped railroad cars. Hungry and without money, Washington stopped in Richmond,
Virginia, and worked on a ship until he had saved a little money.
He arrived in Hampton, Virginia, dirty and tired. He had no friends and little
money. When he reached the Hampton Institute, he went in and found Miss Mackie,
the head teacher. She looked at his appearance. Quickly she decided he was
not the kind of student Hampton wanted. But she did not tell him to leave.
So Washington stayed. About an hour later, she told him one of the classrooms
needed to be swept.
Washington went to work. He swept the room three times. He mopped the floor.
He dusted all of the furniture. He washed the walls. When Miss Mackie came
in the room was spotless! She instantly hired Washington as the school's
janitor. This job let Washington work his way through the Hampton Institute.
Besides working many hours each week, Washington also studied hard. He graduated
from Hampton in 1875. He was proud of his success.
After graduation, Washington returned to West Virginia. He taught there only
a short time. Then, he was offered a teaching position at Hampton. Gladly,
he returned. He taught at Hampton until 1881, when Hampton's founder recommended
him as the head of a new school beginning in Alabama -- the Tuskegee
|Do You Know These
|If you are not sure of the meanings of the following content
words, click here
to look them online.
How far was the Hampton Institute
from Washington's home in Malden, West Virginia?
How did he make the trip from Malden,
West Virginia, to Hampton, Virginia?
What did Washington do along the way
to earn money?
What event led to the freeing of slaves,
including Washington and his family?
Was Washington immediately welcomed
into the Hampton Institute? Why or why not?
What kind of job did Washington do
when asked to sweep a classroom? What does this tell you about Washington's
How did Washington pay his way through
the Hampton Institute?
What did Washington become after
graduation from the Hampton Institute?
For Discussion . . .
How does Miss Mackie react when she
first sees Washington? Why? What kind of person does she seem to assume he
is? Are her assumptions valid? Why or why not? What principle about judging
others might she have learned through this incident? What principles do you
think Washington might have learned through this experience?
When Washington does not leave the
school, Miss Mackie asks him to sweep the floor of one of the classrooms.
How does Washington respond? What character qualities does he demonstrate
in this incident? How does Washington's behavior in this small incident influence
his entire future? Have you ever been asked to do something you didn't really
want to do or didn't think you should have to do? Tell about it. How did
you respond, or how do you think you should have responded?
Washington learned to read from one
book that his mother found somewhere. When he was growing up, books were
very expensive. Most children could not buy books, and few families owned
more than a few books. Many families owned no books. Imagine that you could
have only one book. What book would you choose? Why?
For Further Study . . .
Washington had to make wise use in order to work and study. For week, record
how you use your time using the attached form. Next,
highlight in pink each block of time where you have a daily or weekly commitment
(i.e. class, private lesson, work, etc.). Then, highlight in yellow each
block of time for which you have a regular plan (i.e. practicing the piano,
doing homework, eating supper with family, etc.). Finally, review the remaining
time. On average, how many free hours do you have each day? What do you generally
do with this free time? How might it be used more effectively? Do you have
a regular plan for completing chores, homework, and so forth? If not, how
can you set aside specific blocks of time each day to ensure that you complete
those things that must be done?
Write a brief paragraph evaluating your usage of time. In what ways are you
pleased with your use of time? In which areas would you like to improve your
use of time? What plans have you made to manage your time more effectively?
Have an idea you want to
E-mail it to
Return to the Holiday Zone's Black History Month Activities.
to The Holiday Zone home.
All content not attributed to another source is original and may not be re-posted on any other website.
Material on this site may be reproduced in printed form for non-commercial use (including school, church, and community/civic club use) as long as proper credit, including a link to this site, is given.
Material may not be reproduced for commercial use without written permission.