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Booker Taliaferro Washington (April 5, 1856 - November 14, 1915) was an American educator, author, orator, and adviser to several presidents of the United States. Between 1890 and 1915, Washington was the dominant leader in the African American community and of the contemporary black elite. Washington was from the last generation of black American leaders born into slavery and became the leading voice of the former slaves and their descendants. They were newly oppressed in the South by disenfranchisement and the Jim Crow discriminatory laws enacted in the post-Reconstruction Southern states in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY: I have referred in a general way, before this, when I have been speaking to you, to the fact that each one of you ought to feel an interest in whatever task is set you to do here over and above the mere bearing which that task has on your own life.