- [Narrator] If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.
Emancipation freed my family from the plantation but we were still slaves.
Slaves to helplessness, slaves to poverty, slaves to ignorance.
A school for Black children opened in my town and they promised to lift us up from slavery.
The first day of school came.
It was the single greatest disappointment of my life.
Spelling book in hand, I was sent not to school, but to the salt mines.
I endured the darkness in danger, learning on my own, going to night school when I could, but the mines nearly swallowed my hope.
I was Jonah plunged into the sea, lost into the belly of a great fish.
Then one night in the depths of the mines, a voice promised deliverance, a miner spoke of a new school that offered training for freed slaves.
Soon, the Lord delivered me, but not to school.
I went from working in a cave to working in a house, but my employer had a reputation for being a severe woman.
At first, I was afraid of her.
She required every door painted, every fence repaired, every button mended, every grease spot removed.
She demanded honesty, frankness, order, discipline.
She paid $5 per month.
She offered trust, understanding, and compassion I had never known.
With her help, I was able to set out for that school.
I slept under bridges, I went hungry, I begged for rides.
I arrived with 50 cents in my pocket.
The principal of the school saw my ragged appearance and asked me to go clean the classroom.
I cleaned that room with perfection as if it were the temple of God.
I swept the room three times.
I polished the benches, the tables, the woodwork, again and again, four times.
I reported back to the principal.
There wasn't a trace of dirt in that classroom.
I passed my entrance exam.
I was eager to learn, but it was the Christ-like character of the teachers that showed me a new way of life.
They had made themselves the servants of slaves.
I would do the same.
God had saved me out of the belly of the fish to be a fisher of men.
I am Booker T. Washington, the servant, and I am a branch grafted on the tree of the church.
If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.
Booker T. Washington.