Booker T. Washington quote: “Almost every day of my life…


“I was asked not long ago to tell something about the sports and pastimes that I engaged in during my youth. Until that question was asked it had never occurred to me that there was no period of my life that was devoted to play. From the time that I can remember anything, almost every day of my life had been occupied in some kind of labour; though I think I would now be a more useful man if I had had time for sports. During the period that I spent in slavery I was not large enough to be of much service, still I was occupied most of the time in cleaning the yards, carrying water to the men in the fields, or going to the mill to which I used to take the corn, once a week, to be ground. The mill was about three miles from the plantation. This work I always dreaded. The heavy bag of corn would be thrown across the back of the horse, and the corn divided about evenly on each side; but in some way, almost without exception, on these trips, the corn would so shift as to become unbalanced and would fall off the horse, and often I would fall with it. As I was not strong enough to reload the corn upon the horse, I would have to wait, sometimes for many hours, till a chance passer-by came along who would help me out of my trouble. The hours while waiting for some one were usually spent in crying. The time consumed in this way made me late in reaching the mill, and by the time I got my corn ground and reached home it would be far into the night. The road was a lonely one, and often led through dense forests. I was always frightened. The woods were said to be full of soldiers who had deserted from the army, and I had been told that the first thing a deserter did to a Negro boy when he found him alone was to cut off his ears. Besides, when I was late in getting home I knew I would always get a severe scolding or a flogging.

– Booker T. Washington

Black and white portrait of Booker T. Washington, a prominent African American educator, author, orator, and advisor to several presidents of the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He appears middle-aged with short hair, wearing a dark suit, white shirt, and bow tie. He has a solemn expression and is looking directly at the camera.
Booker T. Washington


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“Booker T. Washington quote: ‘Almost every day of my life…” sources:

  • Washington, Booker T. Up From Slavery: An Autobiography. New York, A. L. Burt, 1901.
  • Harris & Ewing, photographer. WASHINGTON, BOOKER T. [Between 1905 and 1945] Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.