Booker T. Washington was an educator, speaker, author, and benefactor. He was the first president of Tuskegee University when it was known as Tuskegee Institute. His accomplishments are numerous. From working with Julius Rosenwald to start the fund for Rosenwald schools to traveling the world to speak on issues that impacted the Black community, Washington was a tireless advocate for change. Many members of the Black community supported his belief that the focus should be on education and wealth accumulation. Whereas there were those, who disagreed with him and felt that he bowed to white interests by not pushing forward an agenda based on civil rights and political representation.
“The Oaks” is a large Victorian that sits next to campus. Tuskegee’s students helped build the home that Washington and his family moved into in 1900.
In 1915, Booker T. Washington passed away. It was believed that he died from congestive heart failure and kidney disease that was caused by the stress of his work (later examination of his medical records indicated that he was suffering from very high blood pressure). Over 8,000 people attended his funeral. He is buried in the campus’s cemetery, which is next to the Chapel.