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A young black man one day overhears a conversation. In between the hard clink clink sound of pickaxe striking the earth and in between the groans and grunts of the hard working men deep in a coal mine, he heard the words that gave him hope for life far beyond that of what the small town of Malden had to offer. The words were about a school in Virginia and not just any kind of school. The miners were talking about a school for blacks, a place of higher learning that was unlike the tiny little school in his town. This boy, Booker T. Washington had never heard of a thing like this and he knew that in post-civil war America such a school would be incredibly rare.
Born a slave, freed by the Emancipation Proclamation and living a hard working life in the coal mines of West Virginia, Booker T. Washington had a great love for education. He worked all night in the coal mines until nine and then would rush to school, which also started at nine. Each day was a fight to get to class on time, but he tried and tried with all of his might, to learn everything he could. The day he learned the name of the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute was the day he decided to attend that school.