James Lee Dickey: An Analysis of One African-American's Leadership in Jim Crow Texas

Teaching in Malden

His first teaching assignment was at home in Malden, West Virginia. Washington recalled this to be one of the happiest periods in his life where he could inspire his students to have a better quality of life. Academic education alone would not suffice. The first lesson his students had to learn was personal hygiene. While enslaved, bathtubs, soap, toothbrushes (actually, toothsticks) were inaccessible. Slaves had only one change of clothing and often no shoes. They had no undergarments and wore the same clothing for work and sleep. One can only imagine the grime and odor but many of them knew no better. Although poor whites were scarcely cleaner, Booker T. Washington knew that freedmen had to be above reproach. Once his students gained confidence in their own appearances, they would be more confident in their learning.

This page has paths:

This page references: