Booker T Washington's Classic Essay on the Importance of African Americans Working the Land. African-American educator, author, and leader Booker T. Washington addressed the students and staff at Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, the school he led from 1881 until his death in 1915, with several character-building speeches. In "On Mother Earth," Washington encourages students to embark on their lives and invest in their future by owning, living on, and working their own land. He believed in building a great and powerful race on an agricultural foundation. "You had better begin life in a hollow tree and be a man, than begin it in a rented house and be a mere tool, the imitation of a man." This short work is part of Applewood's American Roots series, tactile mementos of American passions by some of America's most famous writers and thinkers.