The Business Strategy of Booker T. Washington: Its Development and Implementation

The Business Strategy of Booker T. Washington: Its Development and Implementation

The Business Strategy of Booker T. Washington: Its Development and Implementation

The Business Strategy of Booker T. Washington: Its Development and Implementation


A fresh reassessment of one of the most powerful black men in American history. This book will help reshape the prism through which the life, work, strategy, and contributions of Booker T. Washington are examined."--David H. Jackson Jr., author of A Chief Lieutenant of the Tuskegee Machine

Although scholars and lay persons alike most often think of Washington as an educator, this impressive text reveals that his business ideas and practices have had a much greater and longer impact on Americans, especially African Americans."--Kenneth Hamilton, Southern Methodist University

Michael Boston offers a radical departure from other interpretations of Booker T. Washington by focusing on the latter's business ideas and practices.

More specifically, Boston examines Washington as an entrepreneur, spelling out his business philosophy at great length and discussing the influence it had on black America. He analyzes the national and regional economies in which Washington worked and focuses on his advocacy of black business development as the key to economic uplift for African Americans.

The result is a revisionist book that responds to the skewed literature on Washington even as it offers a new framework for understanding him. Based upon a deep reading of the Tuskegee archives, it acknowledges Washington not only as a champion of black business development but one who conceived and implemented successful strategies to promote it as well.

The Business Strategy of Booker T. Washington makes abundantly clear that Washington was not an accommodationist; it will be required reading for any future discussion of this titan of history.


Booker T. Washington, one of the most controversial leaders in AfricanAmerican history, rose to prominence as head of Tuskegee Institute in Macon County, Alabama. Using Tuskegee Institute as a power base and launching pad for his efforts to improve the plight of African Americans, Washington became one of the most influential men in the United States. A major key to Washington’s success and influence was his business philosophy, which was reflected in his entrepreneurial approach to developing, maintaining, and expanding Tuskegee Institute.

Unfortunately, even after the enormous amount of revisionist work that has been done, the average person still possesses a distorted image of Booker T. Washington. This misperception largely stems from the conflicts between him and W.E.B. Du Bois, as a result of which Washington has often been portrayed as the cowardly Uncle Tom, financed and controlled by white money, leading his people into a new form of slavery. Du Bois, on the other hand, is typically described as the antithesis of Washington. He has often been written of as a courageous, unappreciated, and underfinanced genius who attempted to lead his people to true freedom and equality while fending off formidable foes such as Washington. Both definitions of these two great men, however, are far too simple to hope to explain them or their roles in American history.

An extensive reading of primary source materials from 1900 to 1972 about and by African-American entrepreneurs reveals an image of Booker T. Washington at variance with the popular interpretation. Many of these entrepreneurs, who were respected leaders in their communities, admired Washington, naming their businesses or associations after him and incorporating aspects of his business philosophy into their own. The parents of . . .

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