September 18

September 18, 1895 – Booker T. Washington Gives His Famous Atlanta Exposition Speech

Only thirty years after the end of slavery, African American leader, orator, and educator Booker T. Washington delivered what is considered by many to be one of America’s greatest speeches.  He addressed race relations in what has become known as his “Atlanta Compromise” speech at the Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta.

Booker T. Washington (large)

Booker T. Washington

The significance of an African American being asked to deliver a speech at a major convention in the heart of the south to a white audience was historic. Although, he called on African Americans and whites to work together to build the south,  many consider parts of Washington”s speech an appeasement to fears whites had of African Americans wanting to progress towards the upward economic and social rim of society. He received a standing ovation at the conclusion of the speech.

Booker T Washington New Orleans 1915

Booker T. Washington giving a speech in New Orleans, 1915.

Booker T. Washington was born on April 5, 1856 and died on November 14, 1915.

(Above) Audio Speech by Booker T. Washington to the Atlanta Cotton States and International Exposition in 1895  (May not be available or visible to some media players)