We will study US History next year, so I was trying to get a head start in the reading material. Therefore, I read Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington to the kids out loud. What an informative, entertaining book!
From the first chapter, Booker wants everybody to know he is not bitter and does not hate his father, although they never met. Born into slavery, Booker framed slavery for what it was: a system which caught everybody in its snares.
The white girls from “The Big House” had no skills. They could not cook or dress themselves, or raise a garden. When slavery ended, these girls could not provide for themselves in any way.
At least, he noticed, blacks could till the land, or work a machine, or had a skill and a trade. On the other hand, he educated blacks who wanted an education in Latin and Greek that there were other more important things first.
Yes, Latin and Greek play a role, but manual labor comes first. Then, hygiene. He talks about preaching the gospel of the toothbrush at Tuskagee Institute and everywhere he went. Students did not arrive there with much, but they brought a toothbrush because they had heard you were expected to brush your teeth.
One time, these three roommates had arrived on campus, greeted him enthusiastically, and showed him one toothbrush. They had put money together to buy it for themselves to share.
This and many other stories will warm your heart and educate you as to what America was like during those years right after slavery ended.