Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Booker T. Washington: Great American Educator

Booker T. Washington: Great American Educator

Eric Braun
Illustrator:  Cynthia Martin 
Historical Fiction Graphic NOvel  Series
For ages 7 to 9
Capstone Press, 2006   ISBN: 978-0736861908

   Booker was born on the Burrough plantation inVirginia. As was common at that time, Booker was no allowed to get an education. Instead, he had to work for his master, carrying books to school for the children, cleaning the farmyard, and fanning the family while they ate their meals. His entire family was delighted therefore when the Civil War came to an end in 1865 because they were finally free to do what they wanted.

   Booker’s mother moved the family to a mining town inWest Virginia. Soon after they arrived, the boys’ stepfather found them jobs in the mine. Booker hated the mine and he fervently wished that he could go to school full time. He was not able to do this however until he went to the Hampton Institute where he, like so many of the other African-American students, had their first opportunity to get a real education.

   Booker did so well at the Hampton Institute that he was given a job there when he was in his early twenties. Booker’s abilities so impressed the principal of the school, General Samuel Armstrong, that he helped Booker get a new job; Booker was to be the principal of a new school for African Americans inTuskegee,Alabama.

   When Booker arrived inTuskegeehe discovered that the school did not, as yet, exist. So he set about raising money, getting supplies, and building the school. Many of the students were not happy to be told that they had to build the school themselves, and that they had to work on the land, but Booker insisted that such things were a part of their education. Booker was convinced that someone having skills “that the world wants done will, in the end make his way regardless of race.”

   Booker went on to become very well known and highly respected by many people around the country. Unfortunately, his views on the race issue were not always popular with his own people. They felt that he was, in his own way, supporting segregation.

   Over time Booker lost more and more African American supporters because of this. They felt that he was ignoring the fact that his people needed political and social equality and not just economic power. What no one knew was that Booker was working for the civil rights cause behind the scenes – in secret.

   This well written title is presented in a graphic novel format, which makes it well suited for young readers who are intimidated by text rich books.