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Booker T Washington in Bloomington

One hundred years ago today, Booker T. Washington came to the Bloomington Chautauqua and spoke about race relations and the improvement of life for African Americans. Everyone has undoubtedly heard of Booker T Washington, but what do you know about the Chautauqua?

Chautauquas were held all over the United States. They were week long assemblies of learning and culture. Orators, such as Booker T Washington, would come to speak to great crowds on subjects of general interest and education. It was an educational movement and people were anxious for this opportunity to improve their knowledge. There were other entertainers such as singers and musicians, actors and and preachers and teachers. William Jennings Bryan is said to have been the most popular Chautauqua speaker. The first Chautauqua was held at Chatauqua Lake in New York in 1874 and other assemblies took this name on. Chautauquas continued throughout the Midwest especially because of the isolation of the population and the lack of opportunity for entertainment in more isolated areas. The Chautauqua movement finaly died out due to the influence of the radio and the automobile. The Chautauqua Institution is still going strong at Chautauqua Lake in New York.

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