The Leadership and Impact of Booker T. Washington

This lesson explores the life and impact of the Booker T. Washington. The students will examine images of Washington, the sound of his voice, his most famous speech, and responses to his speech and life. 

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze how an author...
Analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of the structure an author uses in his or her own exposition or argument, including whether the structure makes...
Determine an author's point of view and/or purpose in a text, analyzing how style and content contribute to its effectiveness.
Evaluate the topic or subject in multiple diverse formats and media.
Analyze what a text says explicitly and draw inferences; support an interpretation of a text by citing and synthesizing relevant textual evidence from...
Analyze how an author's choices regarding the ordering of ideas and events, the introduction and development of ideas, and connections among ideas...
Using textual evidence, compare and contrast the ideas and philosophies of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Dubois.
Alignment of this item to academic standards is based on recommendations from content creators, resource curators, and visitors to this website. It is the responsibility of each educator to verify that the materials are appropriate for your content area, aligned to current academic standards, and will be beneficial to your specific students.
Learning objectives: 
  • The student will learn about the 1870-1914 time period.
  • The student will examine photographs of Booker T. Washington as well as listen to his voice to gain an understanding of this historical figure.
  • The student will read and analyze one of Washington's most famous speeches—the Atlanta Exposition Speech.
  • The student will analyze several reactions to Washington's speech and his impact on America.
Essential and guiding questions: 

How do the photographs and speeches of Booker T. Washington explain his legacy to education and the Civil Rights movement?

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 

Helpful Hints

Primary Sources & Materials Used

  • African American Odyssey: The Booker T. Washington Era
  • Photographs of Washington:
    • Booker T. Washington standing on a stage before large crowd in Lakeland (see image above right)
    • Booker T. Washington, half-length portrait, standing, against white background
    • Booker T. Washington 1859-1915
    • Booker T. Washington, half-length portrait, seated at desk, facing right
  • Washington’s speech:
    • Excerpt: from "An Address Delivered at the
    • Opening of the Cotton States and International Exposition" [audio clip with transcription]
    • "Atlanta Exposition Speech," September 18, 1895. [original typescript]
  • Address of Booker T. Washington, principal of the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, […] MR. WASHINGTON's ADDRESS. [digital transcript beginning pg. 6]
  • Responses to Washington’s speech:
    • Address of Booker T. Washington, principal of the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, […] Editor Atlanta Constitution, September 19, 1895.] (pg. 4-5)
    • The effect of Booker T. Washington's Atlanta speech : described in the New York world of Sept. 19, 1895
    • Address of Booker T. Washington, principal of the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, […] Untitled Section [letter from Grover Cleveland]
  • Worksheets (included):
    • Comparing Photographs of Booker T. Washington worksheet
    • Analyzing Washington’s Voice
    • Atlanta Exposition Speech Organizer
    • Analyzing Reactions to Washington
    • Drafts of Langston Hughes's poem "Ballad of Booker T.," 30 May-1 June 1941.