90 Booker T. Washington Quotes About Success, Life and Education

Booker T. Washington was by far one of the most influential African-Americans of his time, and when you read through these Booker T. Washington quotes you will understand why.

Booker T. Washington was an American educator, author, orator, and adviser to several presidents of the United States.

Born into slavery on April 5, 1856, Washington would later become the leading voice of the former slaves and their descendants.

He was one of the founders of the National Negro Business League and advocated for black progress through education and entrepreneurship.

Washington inspired many with his dignity and ambitions and prided himself on educating others.

Allow these inspirational Booker T. Washington quotes to help you achieve your own legacy and better the world around you.

If you enjoy this article, check out our most popular quote article, a list of short inspirational quotes for daily motivation. 

If you want more motivational quotes, check out our motivational quotes category page.

Booker T. Washington Quotes About Making Progress in life

1. “I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him.” – Booker T. Washington

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2. “One man cannot hold another man down in the ditch without remaining down in the ditch with him.” – Booker T. Washington

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3. “Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way.” – Booker T. Washington

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4. “If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” – Booker T. Washington

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5. “Character is power.” – Booker T. Washington

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6. “Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.” – Booker T. Washington

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7. “We all should rise, above the clouds of ignorance, narrowness, and selfishness.” – Booker T. Washington

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8. “Character, not circumstances, makes the man.” – Booker T. Washington

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9. “There are two ways of exerting one’s strength; one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.” – Booker T. Washington

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10. “Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work.” – Booker T. Washington

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11. “You can’t hold a man down without staying down with him.” – Booker T. Washington

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12. “Associate yourself with people of good quality, for it is better to be alone than to be in bad company.” – Booker T. Washington

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13. “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.” – Booker T. Washington

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14. “I have begun everything with the idea that I could succeed, and I never had much patience with the multitudes of people who are always ready to explain why one cannot succeed.” – Booker T. Washington

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15. “Success in life is founded upon attention to the small things rather than to the large things; to the every day things nearest to us rather than to the things that are remote and uncommon.” – Booker T. Washington

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16. “The older I grow, the more I am convinced that there is no education which one can get from books and costly apparatus that is equal to that which can be gotten from contact with great men and women.” – Booker T. Washington

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17. “No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem.” – Booker T. Washington

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18. “Egotism is the anesthetic that dulls the pain of stupidity.” – Booker T. Washington

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19. “Men may make laws to hinder and fetter the ballot, but men cannot make laws that will bind or retard the growth of manhood.” – Booker T. Washington

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20. “The world cares very little what you or I know, but it does care a great deal about what you or I do.” – Booker T. Washington

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21. “Of all forms of slavery there is none that is so harmful and degrading as that form of slavery which tempts one human being to hate another by reason of his race or color.” – Booker T. Washington

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22. “In any country, regardless of what its laws say, wherever people act upon the idea that the disadvantage of one man is the good of another, there slavery exists. Wherever, in any country the whole people feel that the happiness of all is dependent upon the happiness of the weakest, there freedom exists.” – Booker T. Washington

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23. “There is no escape — man drags man down, or man lifts man up.” – Booker T. Washington

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24. “I pity from the bottom of my heart any nation or body of people that is so unfortunate as to get entangled in the net of slavery.” – Booker T. Washington

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25. “Providence so often uses men and institutions to accomplish a purpose.” – Booker T. Washington

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26. “I learned the lesson that great men cultivate love, and that only little men cherish a spirit of hatred. I learned that assistance given to the weak makes the one who gives it strong; and that oppression of the unfortunate makes one weak.” – Booker T. Washington

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27. “Few things can help an individual more than to place responsibility on him, and to let him know that you trust him.” – Booker T. Washington

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28. “We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.” – Booker T. Washington

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29. “We must reinforce argument with results.” – Booker T. Washington

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30. “The individual who can do something that the world wants done will, in the end, make his way regardless of his race.” – Booker T. Washington

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31. “Too often the educational value of doing well what is done, however little, is overlooked. One thing well done prepares the mind to do the next thing better. Not how much, but how well, should be the motto. One problem thoroughly understood is of more value than a score poorly mastered.” – Booker T. Washington

32. “No greater injury can be done to any youth than to let him feel that because he belongs to this or that race he will be advanced in life regardless of his own merits or efforts.” – Booker T. Washington

33. “Cast down your bucket where you are.” – Booker T. Washington

34. “He who lives outside the law is a slave. The free man is the man who lives within the law, whether that law be the physical or the divine.” – Booker T. Washington

35. “Great men cultivate love… Only little men cherish a spirit of hatred.” – Booker T. Washington

36. “At the bottom of education, at the bottom of politics, even at the bottom of religion, there must be for our race economic independence.” – Booker T. Washington

37. “There is no power on earth that can neutralize the influence of a high, simple and useful life.” – Booker T. Washington

38. “A life is not worth much of which it cannot be said, when it comes to its close, that it was helpful to humanity.” – Booker T. Washington

39. “We should not permit our grievances to overshadow our opportunities.” – Booker T. Washington

40. “Opportunities never come a second time, nor do they wait for our leisure.” – Booker T. Washington

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41. “A whining crying race may be pitied but seldom respected.” – Booker T. Washington

42. “To be one with God is to be like God. Our real religious striving then, should be to become one with God; sharing with Him in our poor humble way His qualities and attributes.” – Booker T. Washington

43. “The happiest people are those who do the most for others. The most miserable are those who do the least.” – Booker T. Washington

44. “The thing to do when one feels sure that he has said or done the right thing and is condemned, is to stand still and keep quiet. If he is right, time will show it.” – Booker T. Washington

45. “It is important and right that all privileges of the law be ours, but it is vastly more important that we be prepared for the exercise of those privileges.” – Booker T. Washington

46. “No man, who continues to add something to the material, intellectual and moral well-being of the place in which he lives, is left long without proper reward.” – Booker T. Washington

47. “In my contact with people, I find that, as a rule, it is only the little, narrow people who live for themselves, who never read good books, who do not travel, who never open up their souls in a way to permit them to come into contact with other souls – with the great outside world.” – Booker T. Washington

48. “It means a great deal, I think, to start off on a foundation which one has made for oneself.”― Booker T. Washington

49. “The great human law that in the end recognizes and rewards merit is everlasting and universal.”― Booker T. Washington

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50. “I shall never permit myself to stoop so low as to hate any man.”― Booker T. Washington

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51. “Nothing ever comes to me, that is worth having, except as the result of hard work.”― Booker T. Washington

52. “Education is not a thing apart from life—not a “system,” nor a philosophy; it is direct teaching how to live and how to work.”― Booker T. Washington

53. “I will permit no man to narrow & degrade my sould by making me hate him.”― Booker T. Washington

54. “I began learning long ago that those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”― Booker T. Washington

55. “My experience has been that the time to test a true gentleman is to observe him when he is in contact with individuals of a race that is less fortunate than his own.”― Booker T. Washington

56. “A race, like an individual, lifts itself up by lifting others up.”― Booker T. Washington

57. “Success is not to be measured by the position someone has reached in life, but the obstacles he has overcome while trying to succeed.”― Booker T. Washington

58. “In the long run, the world is going to have the best, and any difference in race, religion, or previous history will not long keep the world from what it wants.”― Booker T. Washington

59. “In all things social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.”― Booker T. Washington

60. “Instead of studying books so constantly, how I wish that our schools and colleges might learn to study men and things!”― Booker T. Washington

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61. “Those who have accomplished the greatest results are those who never grow excited or lose self-control, but are always calm, self-possessed, patient, and polite.”― Booker T. Washington

62. Success always leaves footprints.” – Booker T. Washington

63. “Success is not to be measured so much by the status one has attained in life but rather by the obstacles one has overcome while trying to succeed.” – Booker T. Washington

64. “To young, inexperienced minds there seems to be a kind of fatal charm about the vague, the distant, and the mysterious.” – Booker T. Washington

65. “It takes no more time to be polite to every one than it does to be rude.” – Booker T. Washington

66. “The study of art that does not result in making the strong less willing to suppress the weak means little.” – Booker T. Washington

67. “One of the highest and surest signs of civilization is that a people have learned to obey the commands of those who are placed over them.” – Booker T. Washington

68. “The one thing that is most worth living for—and dying for, if need be—is the opportunity of making someone else happier and more useful.” – Booker T. Washington

69. “Education is not what a person is able to hold in his head, so much as it is what a person is able to find.” – Booker T. Washington

70. “Then very few persons have any idea of the large number of applications for help that rich people are constantly being flooded with.” – Booker T. Washington

Booker T. Washington quotes about life and success

71. “If you can’t read, it’s going to be hard to realize dreams.” — Booker T. Washington

72. “Dignify and glorify common labor. It is at the bottom of life that we must begin, not at the top.” — Booker T. Washington

73. “We do not want the men of another color for our brothers-in-law, but we do want them for our brothers.” — Booker T. Washington

74. “You measure the size of the accomplishment by the obstacles you have to overcome to reach your goals.” ― Booker T. Washington

75. “A lie doesn’t become truth, wrong doesn’t become right, and evil doesn’t become good, just because it’s accepted by a majority.” ― Booker T. Washington

76. “If you are milking cows and feel that you know all that there is to be known about it, you have simply reached the point where you are useless and unfitted for the work.” – Booker T. Washington

77. “Among a large class, there seemed to be a dependence upon the government for every conceivable thing. The members of this class had little ambition to create a position for themselves, but wanted the federal officials to create one for them.” ― Booker T. Washington

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78. “I early learned that it is a hard matter to convert an individual by abusing him, and that this is more often accomplished by giving credit for all the praiseworthy actions performed than by calling attention alone to all the evil done.” ― Booker T. Washington

79. “In order to be successful in any undertaking, I think the main thing is for one to grow to the point where he completely forgets himself; that is, to lose himself in a great cause. In proportion as one loses himself in this way, in the same degree does he get the highest happiness out of his work.” ― Booker T. Washington

80. “How many times I wished then and have often wished since, that by some power of magic, I might remove the great bulk of these people into the country districts and plant them upon the soil—upon the solid and never deceptive foundation of Mother Nature, where all nations and races that have ever succeeded have gotten their start—a start that at first may be slow and toilsome, but one that nevertheless is real.” ― Booker T. Washington

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81. “Success waits patiently for anyone who has the determination and strength to seize it.” — Booker T. Washington

82. “Decide to be your best. In the long run the world is going to want and have the best and that might as well be you.” — Booker T. Washington

83. “I would permit no man, no matter what his color might be, to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.” — Booker T. Washington

84. “Political activity alone cannot make a man free. Back of the ballot, he must have property, industry, skill, economy, intelligence, and character.” — Booker T. Washington

85. “Think about it: we went into slavery pagans; we came out Christians. We went into slavery pieces of property; we came out American citizens. We went into slavery with chains clanking about our wrists; we came out with the American ballot in our hands.” — Booker T. Washington

86. “There is a certain class of race problem-solvers who don’t want the patient to get well, because as long as the disease holds out they have not only an easy means of making a living, but also an easy medium through which to make themselves prominent before the public.” — Booker T. Washington

87. “Every person who has grown to any degree of usefulness, every person who has grown to distinction, almost without exception has been a person who has risen by overcoming obstacles, by removing difficulties, by resolving that when he met discouragement he would not give up.” — Booker T. Washington

88. “Never get to the point where you will be ashamed to ask anybody for information. The ignorant man will always be ignorant if he fears that by asking another for information he will display ignorance. Better once display your ignorance of a certain subject than always know nothing of it.” — Booker T. Washington

89. “Most leaders spend time trying to get others to think highly of them, when instead they should try to get their people to think more highly of themselves. It’s wonderful when the people believe in their leader. It’s more wonderful when the leader believes in their people! You can’t hold a man down without staying down with him.” — Booker T. Washington

90. “There is another class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs—partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.” — Booker T. Washington

How to apply Booker T. Washington’s words to your life

We can all you these wise words from Booker T. Washington to be better people and live our best lives possible.

Let his words about success and working towards your goals inspire you to power through tough times and reach your dreams.

Do you have any other Booker T. Washington quotes you would like to share with us?

Let us know in the comment section below!

Booker T. Washington quotes

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  1. C.E. McCormick

    September 10, 2019 at 3:47 PM

    I felt as if I were reading the Book of Proverbs! So much thought provoking wisdom in very brief sentences or paragraphs. After reading these, I want to know much more about Booker T.

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