Tuskegee’s ‘Civilizing’ Mission: Booker T. Washington, the Tuskegee Institute, and Imperialism

Kenneth Smith, Kansas State University

Working within imperialism’s discourse, Booker T. Washington and Tuskegee tried to use the Hampton-Tuskegee model to allow black peoples in Africa, Puerto Rico, and Cuba to gain greater control over their lives. While these relationships were forged within the context of empire-building, they were not simply the product of imperialist designs. Instead, they were created largely by the agency of black people themselves. Rather than waging a counteroffensive to imperialism, many Afro-Diasporic subjects in Africa, the Caribbean, and the U.S. sought to manipulate imperial structures to their own advantage.

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 Presented in Session 32. U.S. and British Empire