Up From Slavery

Washington, Booker

Publication date: Washington, Booker T. (1998). Up From Slavery. New York: Doubleday.
Publisher: Washington, Booker T. (1998). Up From Slavery. New York: Doubleday.


Up From Slavery is Booker T. Washington’s autobiography and record of philosophical beliefs in regards to race and segregation in the Unites States. Washington recounts his life, rising from a slave child to the most visible African-American figure of the post-Reconstruction era. He stressed advancement through education and business acumen, and took a separate but equal stance in regards to race. While he remained extremely popular and influential, his views earned him scorn from many black intellectuals, including W.E.B. Du Bois. Up From Slavery specifically relates to the key knowledge requirements of the SOL.


Up From Slavery scores a 14 on the Flesch-Kincaid Readability scale. Conceptually, the reading does not pose a problem. Washington writes very eloquently, but some of the sentences are rather long. This may partly explain for the high score. The vocabulary is not too difficult. It is my hope that using cooperative learning groups will act as scaffolding for weaker 11th grade readers.

Use in Class

The text will be used in combination with works by Du Bois and on Ida B. Wells in a Jigsaw activity in class. Specifically, the chapter on his Atlanta Exposition Address will be focused on for the activity. Three groups of six students will examine and develop fundamental understandings and concepts from each reading. Then six groups of three students from each original group will discuss their findings to each other. The cooperative groups will then lead a class discussion in which I will also participate. This will take two class periods. The activity in itself is a complete PAR activity. In relation to the content this will be used in the Preparation phase.

The Jigsaw activity will hopefully engage my most reluctant learners to both learn the content and comprehend the reading. By comparing and contrasting Washington’s beliefs with others’, students may be able to identify with a particular view. It will facilitate discussion and no doubt some debate. This activity and the readings in it will provide a background for the content area that will augment the official text. It will activate my students’ schema for the rest of the content area reading to follow.

Unit Focus

Submitted by Michael Hasenfus

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