The book is well written, engaging and personal (qualities that must have made it manageable when I read it the first time). The first half is an inspiring story of a very young boy (Booker) with the determination to become educated. While working in the salt mine, he remembers recognizing his "first figure" (the number, 18) and would practice writing it until he mastered it. He spent his evenings with Webster's Blue Back Speller teaching himself the alphabet. Because he was too valuable as a laborer, when a local school was established, he was unable to attend but made arrangements to meet with a teacher in the evenings. At a later age, with nothing but determination to attend the Hampton Institute, he set off on the 500 mile journey with little money and only the clothes on his back. When he arrived 90 miles short of Hampton, he lived under the boardwalk while working, only earning enough money to eat (he had gone without food for most of his trip). He eventually arrived at his destination with 50 cents to put towards his education. The story continues...
I LOVE this quote:
"My whole soul was so bent upon reaching Hampton that
I did not have time to cherish any bitterness..."
While reading this book, there is not a lot of time spent describing the challenges (and, believe me, there were MORE than you and I will ever encounter in this day and age). There is, however, such a strong sense that this young man had set his eye on the prize and that he was determined to have nothing distract him or deter his path, no matter how long the process of getting there.
If only I could practice half of this discipline. I think I need to add this book to my permanent library to re-read on occasion for inspiration sake.
There were and have been so many men and women that have similar stories.
May we be reminded of these and continue our journeys with our eyes on the prize.