Booker T. Washington Versus W. E. B. DuBoise Essay Example
Booker T. Washington Versus W. E. B. DuBoise Essay Example

Booker T. Washington Versus W. E. B. DuBoise Essay Example

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  • Pages: 4 (1084 words)
  • Published: October 12, 2018
  • Type: Essay
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Booker T. Washington advocated for the improvement of black individuals' economic skills and character instead of pursuing equal civil and political rights with whites. He believed that by doing so, they would earn the respect and love of white people, eventually leading to the natural acquisition of such rights. This idea gained popularity among many white individuals. However, over time, more militant leaders like W.E.B DuBois emerged to challenge Washington's gradualist and accommodationist approach.

During the four decades following reconstruction, African Americans in America faced worsening circumstances. The federal government allowed white supremacists to regain control in the South, taking a hands-off approach to address the "Negro problem." This resulted in disfranchisement, social discrimination, educational discrimination, occupational discrimination,mass mob violence,murder,and lynching during the Jim Crow era.Black people were essentially rendered quasi-slaves or second-class citize


ns as their civil and human rights were taken away.

In 1896,the Supreme Court reinforced legal segregation of public facilities in southern states through its ruling in Plessy vs.Ferguson case.This decision further entrenched racial segregation. Both northern and southern racists viewed black individuals as savages,inferior to white people both physically and intellectually.They believed that black people were incapable of being equals in white society due to their immorality and inherent inferiority.During the period from 1877 to 1895, African American leaders debated different approaches to obtain equal citizenship. Some suggested using violence or returning to Africa, but most supported peaceful and democratic methods despite unfavorable conditions. They encouraged acquiring skills as workers to become valuable contributors and potentially gain political and social rights. Voting rights were emphasized as a key civil right that would lead to economic and social rights. The consensus was that thes

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solutions would be achieved gradually over time. However, by the turn of the century, there was a division between an economic strategy and a political strategy within African American leadership. This division led to a contentious dispute between Booker T. Washington and W.E.B DuBois. Washington advocated for a gradualist economic approach while accepting disfranchisement and seeking reconciliation with white Southerners. In 1895, he gained national prominence with a concise speech outlining his philosophy on society and race strategies.The "Atlanta Compromise" address, delivered at the Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta, called for job opportunities and industrial-agricultural education for African Americans from white America. In exchange, Washington proposed that African Americans would relinquish their demands for social equality and civil rights. Washington emphasized that immediate goals of economic respectability and independence were more crucial than the pursuit of political and social equality. This speech is a significant part of Washington's legacy as the first African American to address such a large group of southern whites. Through the "Atlanta Compromise," Washington advocated for black individuals to pursue occupations like farming, skilled labor, domestic service, and manual labor to challenge negative stereotypes and demonstrate their worth to white society. He encouraged trust in southern whites' paternalism while accepting white supremacy but stressed the mutual interdependence of blacks and whites in the South; remaining socially separate yet united in matters essential for progress.Washington advised black individuals to stay in the South, get an education, save money, work hard, and acquire property in order to earn full citizenship rights. While some black leaders, like W.E.B. DuBois initially supported Washington's philosophy of the "Atlanta Compromise," they struggled to overthrow his

influence. In 1895, DuBois described Washington's speech as well-spoken. During the late 1890s, there were similarities in the ideas of both men and they briefly found common ground. Both Washington and DuBois blamed African Americans for their own condition and emphasized self-help and moral improvement rather than rights. They prioritized economic advancement over universal suffrage for all men. The professor and principal were willing to accept voting restrictions based on education and property qualifications but not race. They strongly believed in racial unity and economic cooperation or Black Nationalism. They promoted the growth of African American businesses and agreed that vocational training should be available for the black masses. From 1901 to 1903, DuBois changed his views as he became more vocal about racial injustice and disagreed with Washington's focus on industrial education which diverted resources from black liberal arts colleges without bringing significant progress for the race.
Washington's control over black affairs through his "Tuskegee Machine" caused their estrangement. This network of community institutions, orchestrated by Washington, hindered open criticism and impeded the progress of black people. DuBois saw Washington as a political boss who abused his power for personal gain, although he recognized Washington's merits. However, DuBois viewed him as a limited and misguided leader. In 1903, DuBois launched an unwavering attack against Washington's program in his renowned collection of essays titled "The Souls of Black Folk". He believed it was necessary for Black Americans to challenge certain aspects of their prominent leader's work. In his essay "Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others," DuBois argued that Washington's conciliatory program forced blacks to surrender their political influence, assertiveness for civil rights, and access to

advanced education for young Black individuals. According to DuBois, Washington's policies had negative consequences leading to disenfranchisement, legal inferiority, and lack of support for higher education institutions among Black people. In contrast, DuBois advocated for voting rights, civic equality, and ability-based education for black citizens while opposing Washington's program due to its limited goals, disregard for liberal arts education, and neglect towards various injustices faced by black individuals.DuBois stressed the significance of persistent activism, political involvement, and academic education in attaining complete citizenship rights. He advocated for leadership within the black community to be held by individuals with a college education. His philosophy revolved around the concept of the "Talented Tenth," where an educated elite could propel economic and cultural advancement for the larger black population. As a founding member of the NAACP, which consisted of both black and white radicals, DuBois aimed to eradicate legal barriers to full citizenship for African Americans.

Both Washington and DuBois aimed to achieve equal rights for black people but had differing strategies. While Washington prioritized immediate economic objectives in integrating African Americans into all aspects of society, acknowledging their initial disadvantage and advocating gradual progress towards demanding equal citizenship even if temporarily accepting an inferior position, DuBois disagreed with this approach. He believed in providing comprehensive education in liberal arts and granting the same privileges as white citizens without compromising constitutional rights that were already assured.

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