At a time when the black community was being afforded a free status, but not one of equality, many leaders arose to appeal to the white governing body for social equality. The transition from the nineteenth century to the twentieth century gave birth to two of these leaders, Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois. Although these two remarkable men were both in search of a common goal, their roads leading to this goal were significantly different.
This is most evident in Booker T. Washington’s The Atlanta Exposition Address and W.E.B. Du Bois’s response to this, The Souls of Black Folk. Booker T. Washington’s gradualism stance gives him a popular appeal among both blacks and whites, although W.E.B. Du Bois has the upper hand when it came to ideology dealing with economic prosperity among blacks.
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Washington favours the humble, asks nicely, appreciates what you’re given, and says thank you approach to obtaining social equality. Washington addresses the issue with caution, in doing so he not only comes across as an advocate of Blacks gaining “all privileges of the law”(Up from Slavery, 457) but also of Blacks being prepared “for the exercises of these privileges.”(457) By taking this approach Washington is gaining appeal within the black community as well as the white community. In contrast to this effective stance, Du Bois asks constantly with a loud and firm voice.
Du Bois even goes as far as to say that if the Black community wants social equality they must simply complain. “Ceaseless agitation”( The Souls of Black Folk 563 ) he feels will do more in the fight for equality than “voluntarily throwing away”(563) the reasonable rights they are entitled to. The opposing approaches of Washington and Du Bois are far from unnoticeable, and receive recognition from both sides.
In Washington’s Atlanta Compromise Address he comments that the “wisest among my race understand that the agitation of questions of social equality is the extremist folly, and that progress in the enjoyment of all the privileges that will come to us must be the result of severe and constant struggle rather than of artificial forcing.”(457) This statement, delivered at a time when blacks and whites have separate water fountains, blacks were lynched, and the majority of blacks were illiterate, directly condemns the blunt complaining with which Du Bois is supporting.
Du Bois criticism is illustrated in The Souls of Black Folk; “The way for a people to gain respect is not by continually belittling and ridiculing themselves; that, on the contrary, Negroes must insist continually, in season and out of season.”(560) This seems to be a direct response to Washington’s address. The ideology of Washington promotes unity “in all things essential to mutual progress” (459), but in comparison to Du Bois standpoint in the early twentieth century he comes across as merely a sell-out. Therefore, W.E.B. Du Bois is the more highly regarded and respected of the two based on his passionate advocating of Black rights.
In Washington’s speech, he asked for whites to provide jobs and education for African Americans. In exchange, blacks would give up demands for social equality and civil rights. His message to African Americans was that political and social equality were less important. Washington believed that if they proved themselves useful to whites, then civil rights and social equality would eventually be given to them. Blacks were urged to work to prove to whites that all blacks were not worthless.
By doing so, Washington believed, African Americans could earn full citizenship rights. He advised blacks to trust the southern whites and accept their control. He stressed the mutual interdependence of blacks and whites in the South, but said they were to remain socially separate: “In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.”(458) Blacks, DuBois believed, should not have to sacrifice their constitutional rights in order to achieve a status that was already guaranteed.
Both men realize the impending crisis and the harmful effects disregarding these problems will have on the future. Although Washington and Du Bois offer different strategies for dealing with the problems, they succeed in continuing the Civil Rights Movement. Washington, being the more passive activist was favoured by both races. However, Du Bois wins the majority of the Black community with his aggressive ideology.
Segregation of African Americans had been present in the United States since the early 1600’s. In the mid-nineteenth century, African American leaders have proposed many different theories and methods to address the injustices posed by the white majority on to the African American population. The individuals who led the fight against discrimination include Booker T. Washington and William E.B, who took completely different approaches in order to deal with this unfair treatment of African Americans. Du Bois. Booker T. Washington took a more gradual approach towards African American equality while Du Bois took a more immediate stance.
His approach was appropriate for the time because he advocated for African American’s rights right after the Civil War while there was an infinite amount of hard feelings towards former slaves. W.E.B Du Bois’ approach was too extreme for his time. When he advocated for the rights of African American’s it was about twenty years after the Civil War. Even twenty years later there were still great amounts of ill will towards former slaves. Du Bois tried to force his ideas on whites too much too fast. He wanted instant gratification while Washington settled for the long term. Despite their differences, both Booker T. Washington and William E.B. Du Bois took steps to improve their fellow African Americans’ lives from 1877-1915.
W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington were two of the most notable leaders who advocated as black assimilation into white America through the education of the black community. They encouraged black individuals to blend into society by becoming skilled workers. They also believed that by doing so the black community would be accepted by whites and would raise in social level. According to Document A, the school enrollment by race was much lower for blacks in the period before when Washington and Du Bois became a great impact on the educational system.
Beginning around 1905, there was an upward spike in Black schooled children which is credited to the efforts and influence from Washington and Du Bois. From 1890-1910, the percentage of illiteracy in blacks decreased by over half as shown in Document B. Du Bois and Washington also helped reduce the racial discrimination against blacks. Based on document F, to urge on racial discrimination Du Bois founded the Niagara Movement in 1905. The fecal matter hardened the responsibility for racial problems in the United States on Whites. It urged Blacks to maintain for what they are entitled to and then oppose the views of Booker T. Washington, who pressured Blacks to stop demanding equalize regenerates.
Document H indicates that his ideas received much scrutiny. People accused his emphasis on vocational training as an idea that stifled the progress of the black race because it “condemned” the education received by college-educated blacks. Also, many believed that vocational education served as a barrier that kept blacks from achieving higher levels of education. Furthermore, many thought that Washington’s methods did nothing to help black racial progress and thought accommodationism created a larger polarization between blacks and whites.
Furthermore, Document J clearly expresses how Washington’s acceptance to submit to white authority did nothing to help the discrimination faced by his race. The portrait depicts a white man and a black man drinking water from separate water fountains. The black water fountain is labelled as “For Colored Only,” communicating that Jim Crowe serves as a significant aspect of post-reconstruction Southern culture. Failure to challenge white authority would only allow the whites to continue their discrimination towards the blacks. Du Bois strongly promoted didactics for Blacks. Without education, millions of Blacks would not metamorphose for jobs.
His education was responsible for his leadership. Du Bois was the first Black-American to crystallize a Ph.D. at Harvard University. His wide of-the-mark usage of vocabulary helped him gain the support of many. Du Bois believed that in stray for people to work and view progress they necessitate to fork up basic rights. According to document E, he believed that Blacks could not be disadvantaged in education, the right to vote, and other civic rights. Du Bois similarly helped found the field association for the Advancement of Colored flock (NAACP), which was a gracious right governing to oppose segregation and racial discrimination.
Although Washington and Dubois were two of the most famous people who took different approaches to deal with this unfair treatment of African Americans, there were many people who opposed both methods that Washington and Dubois employed, and claimed that more emphasis needed to be placed on the current situation of the African American race. According to a document I, After the Reconstruction had just ended in 1877, Carter Woodson argued that emphasis should have been placed on the current economic situation of the blacks rather than the possibility of political equality.
He believed that current issues should have been given emphasis because their rewards would have been more easily obtainable. This criticized both methods as Washington and Dubois focused on long-term rewards rather than short-term rewards.
Throughout the course of American history, the fight for equality will forever be the most influential movement in our present society. And it could not have been brought about without the strategies and feats by African American leaders like W.E.B DuBois and Booker T. Washington. Washington’s and Dubois’s method’s in dealing with black racial discrimination and poverty received much criticism. I believe that Washington’s ideas were more appropriate for his the time because he advocated for African American’s rights right after the Civil War while there was an infinite amount of hard feelings towards former slaves and expected it to happen over a long period of time unlike DuBois.
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