Booker T. Washington Boyhood Cabin

Malden, WV

Located just behind the African Zion Baptist Church, Booker's cabin was built to match a photograph of his home. Booker T. Washington had a major influence on southern race relations and was the dominant figure in black public affairs from 1895 until his death in 1915. Born into slavery and illiteracy, Washington rose up to become the foremost educator and leader of black Americans at the turn of the century.

In 1865, the nine-year-old Booker walked with his family 225 miles from Hales Ford, VA, to his freedom home in Malden. There he labored as a salt-packer and worked in the coal mines before becoming a houseboy for the wife of Lewis Ruffner, owner of the mines. She encouraged Booker to continue his education and, in 1872, he entered the Hampton Agricultural Institute. A forceful speaker, Washington became skilled in politics. Powerful and influential in both white and black communities, Washington was a confidential advisor to U.S. presidents. For years, presidential political appointments of African Americans were cleared through Washington. A man who overcame near-impossible odds himself, Booker T. Washington is best remembered for helping black Americans rise up from the economic slavery that held them down for so long after they were legally free citizens.

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