Saturday, May 22, 2010

He Followed His Dream

In 1872, at the age of 16, Booker T. Washington decided he wanted to go to school. For a boy, born a slave to a plantation cook in Virginia, who had no idea who his white father was, this was a huge step. He decided that he would enter the Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia. With nothing more than a small satchel of clothing, he started walking from Malden, West Virginia, 500 miles away. Eventually he made it to Richmond, about eighty miles from his destination. He worked there for a few days unloading pig iron off a ship, spending his nights on the ground under an elevated board sidewalk. He continued his journey and finally reached Hampton Institute. He asked the "head teacher" for admission.

Washington later recalled, "Having been so long without proper food, a bath, and change of clothing, I did not make a very favorable impression upon her, and I could see at once that there were doubts in her mind about the wisdom of admitting me as a student." The teacher delayed a decision about Booker while she admitted other students, and he waited anxiously. Finally, she said to him, "The adjoining recitation room needs sweeping. Take the broom and sweep it."

"It occurred to me at once that here was my chance," he wrote. "Never did I receive an order with more delight. I swept the recitation room three times. Then I got a dusting cloth and I dusted it four times." He cleaned the walls and closets. "I had the feeling," he continued, "that in a large measure my future depended upon the impression I made upon the teacher in the cleaning of that room. When I was through, I reported to her. She was a 'Yankee' woman who knew just where to look for dirt. She went into the room and inspected the floor and closets. Then she took her handkerchief and rubbed it on the woodwork about the walls, and over the table and benches. When she was unable to find one bit of dirt on the floor, or a particle of dust on any of the furniture, she quietly remarked, 'I guess you will do to enter this institution.'"

"I was one of the happiest souls on earth. The sweeping of that room was my college examination, and never did any youth pass an examination for entrance into Harvard or Yale that gave him more genuine satisfaction. I have passed several examinations since then, but I have always felt that this was the best one I ever passed."

Booker T. Washington not only passed that examination, but he kept a job as a janitor to help pay his expenses. In June 1875, he graduated on the honor roll and as one of the commencement speakers. Booker T. Washington was a dreamer who backed up his dreams with action.

No comments:

Post a Comment;
pls visit above sites and write your comments.