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Great Depression and World War II, 1929-1945
Race Relations in the 1930s and 1940s
Ballad of Booker T.

Booker T. Washington was a former slave who founded the Tuskegee Institute and became a well-regarded educational leader. Washington was often criticized, however, for his emphasis on vocational education--preparation for skilled manual jobs--rather than academics. In this poem, written in 1941, noted poet Langston Hughes takes on Washington's critics. How does he explain and justify Washington's work? Why might he have chosen to write this poem in 1941, many years after Washington's death?

Read earlier drafts of the poem from Words and Deeds in American History. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.


ballad of Booker T.

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Read earlier drafts of the poem from Words and Deeds in American History. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.