On reading Booker T. Washington's classic autobiography, Up from Slavery, Langston Hughes noted, '(Washington's) story of himself, as half-seen by himself, is one of America's most revealing books.' 'I was born a slave on a plantation in Franklin County, West Virginia. My life had its beginnings in the midst of the most miserable, desolate, and discouraging surroundings.' So begins the famous autobiography that helped make Booker T. Washington the most prominent black spokesman of his time. Simple in its style and anecdotal in its approach, Up from Slavery, published to great acclaim in 1901, vividly recounts Washington's birth into slavery, his yearning for education, and his single-minded vision of building an educational center for black students, the Tuskegee Institute. A shrewd diplomat and a tireless promoter of the importance of education for black Americans, Washington cut a controversial figure in his own day.