Booker's first exposure to education was from the outside of a school house near a plantation; looking inside, he saw children his age sitting at desks and reading books.
In 1872, Booker T. Washington left home and walked 500 miles to Hampton Normal Agricultural Institute in Virginia. Along the way he took odd jobs to support himself. He convinced administrators to let him attend the school and took a job as a janitor to help pay his tuition. Booker T. Washington graduated from Hampton in 1875 with high marks.
In 1881, Washington was hired to run the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (now known as Tuskegee University). Under Booker T. Washington's leadership, Tuskegee became a leading school in the country. In 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington to the White House, making him the first African American to be so honored. Booker T. Washington remained the head of Tuskegee Institute until his death.