Washington, Booker T. (1856–1915)
Born a slave on a plantation in Virginia, Washington became a leading civil rights activist, creator of the Atlanta Compromise, founding member of the NAACP, and advisor to several presidents of the United States. His determination to educate himself took him to the Hampton Institute, after which he founded Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, now Tuskegee University. He focused on economic empowerment, rather than political and social rights. He was not only an influential leader of early civil rights, but also the most well-known African American leader of his generation.