Up from Slavery: an autobiography eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 269 pages of information about Up from Slavery.

In the fall of 1878, after having taught school in Malden for two years, and after I had succeeded in preparing several of the young men and women, besides my two brothers, to enter the Hampton Institute, I decided to spend some months in study at Washington, D.C.  I remained there for eight months.  I derived a great deal of benefit from the studies which I pursued, and I came into contact with some strong men and women.  At the institution I attended there was no industrial training given to the students, and I had an opportunity of comparing the influence of an institution with no industrial training with that of one like the Hampton Institute, that emphasizes the industries.  At this school I found the students, in most cases, had more money, were better dressed, wore the latest style of all manner of clothing, and in some cases were more brilliant mentally.  At Hampton it was a standing rule that, while the institution would be responsible for securing some one to pay the tuition for the students, the men and women themselves must provide for their own board, books, clothing, and room wholly by work, or partly by work and partly in cash.  At the institution at which I now was, I found that a large portion of the students by some means had their personal expenses paid for them.  At Hampton the student was constantly making the effort through the industries to help himself, and that very effort was of immense value in character-building.  The students at the other school seemed to be less self-dependent.  They seemed to give more attention to mere outward appearances.  In a word, they did not appear to me to be beginning at the bottom, on a real, solid foundation, to the extent that they were at Hampton.  They knew more about Latin and Greek when they left school, but they seemed to know less about life and its conditions as they would meet it at their homes.  Having lived for a number of years in the midst of comfortable surroundings, they were not as much inclined as the Hampton students to go into the country districts of the South, where there was little of comfort, to take up work for our people, and they were more inclined to yield to the temptation to become hotel waiters and Pullman-car porters as their life-work.

During the time I was a student at Washington the city was crowded with coloured people, many of whom had recently come from the South.  A large proportion of these people had been drawn to Washington because they felt that they could lead a life of ease there.  Others had secured minor government positions, and still another large class was there in the hope of securing Federal positions.  A number of coloured men—­some of them very strong and brilliant—­were in the House of Representatives at that time, and one, the Hon. B.K.  Bruce, was in the Senate.  All this tended to make Washington an attractive place for members of the coloured race.  Then, too, they knew that at all times they could have the protection

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Up from Slavery: an autobiography from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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