Booker T. Washington Playground

W. 107 St. to W. 108 St., Columbus Ave. and Amsterdam Ave.


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This playground is named for African American educator and author, Booker T. Washington (1856-1915). In 1881, Washington helped establish the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Alabama (now known as Tuskegee University) and served as its first principal. On September 18, 1895, Washington delivered a speech in Atlanta, Georgia, known as “The Atlanta Compromise,” in which he argued that the problems of African Americans could be greatly reduced through vocational training and economic self-reliance. Washington was criticized by several intellectuals, including W.E.B. DuBois, who believed economic reform without social reform would not be enough to substantially improve the status of African Americans in society.

Despite this criticism, Washington continued his work, founded several organizations including the National Negro Business League, and advised Presidents Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) and William Taft (1857-1930) on matters of race. He also authored many books including The Future of the American Negro (1899), Up from Slavery (1901), Life of Frederick Douglass (1907), The Story of the Negro (1909), and My Larger Education (1911).

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