My Struggle for an Education – Summary

In the story ‘My struggle for an Education’ Brooker T. Washington gives a moving account of the difficulties he faced to find a place in a school. At the age of sixteen he had to face lots of troubles and hardships in order to get admission in a school. Racial discrimination was prevalent and blacks were not given the right to education. Washington makes a tremendous effort to prove to the administration of the school that the colour of his skin in no way determines his lack of capabilities.


In the story Brooker T. Washington presents an account of a significant event of his life. He used to work in a coal mine where he happened to know about a very good school in Virginia. This school was far more good than the one in his own town. The name of this school was the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in Virginia. Hearing that these people appreciate it so much he at once made up his mind to go to that school although he knew nothing about its location.

In the autumn of 1872 with a reluctant permission from his mother he started for Hampton with very little money and a small bag with few clothes. As his mother was very ill, the parting became very sad. He walked and begged rides and in a number of days reached a large city Richmond about eighty-two miles away from Hampton. He was completely out of money, hungry, exhausted but not discouraged. Having no place to go he crept under a raised platform on a pavement.

Next day he got-up refreshed but hungry and started to look for some work as he was very hungry. He saw a cargo ship unloading pig-iron. The kind-hearted captain of the ship gave him work and he finally earned his breakfast for the day. Due to his good work the captain asked him to continue work.He still slept under the sidewalk and finally managed to save money to reach Hampton. The sight of the school building seemed to him a reward for the hardship he faced. But here he could not make a favourable impression on his teacher as he had been without proper food, rest, bath and change of clothing. The teacher did not refuse admittance neither did she decide in favour. She kept giving admission to other students which troubled him all the more. He desperately wanted a chance to prove his worth and he got it when the teacher finally asked him to clean the recitation room. He swept and dusted the room several times as he knew that his future depended upon it. The teacher came and inspected the room minutely and could not find a bit of dirt. She finally admitted him to the school. He was extremely happy and all through his life considered the cleaning of that room the best examination he ever passed.

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