African-american history

August 2, 2017 History

Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois had contrasting positions on how to cover with the jobs confronting American-Americans. Which was superior in covering with these struggles?

Booker T. Washington and WEB Du Bois are possibly the two most of import and influential African-American ‘s of the late 19th century and they both played polar functions in the Civil Right ‘s motion. However, as the inquiry suggests, they besides had really contrasting political beliefs when it came to impacting the Afro-american motion. To to the full understand where the two leaders had similarities and contrasts in their political positions, I will foremost analyze Washington ‘s parts to the Afro-american cause, and the grounds behind his picks. Focus will so switch to Du Bois ‘ positions and his chief unfavorable judgments of Washington, and whether these unfavorable judgments were valid or non.

To understand the methods and reactions of Washington and Du Bois it is first indispensable to understand the background they were working in. During the late 19th century, when Washington and Du Bois were at their extremum, Reconstruction had failed and life for many African-American ‘s was well worse so it had been before the American Civil War and the abolition of bondage. Afro-american ‘s found themselves in the worse paid occupations in both rural countries, where they were exploited by an unjust sharecropping system, and in more urban countries, where the industrial revolution was get downing to take clasp. Segregation was besides quickly traveling throughout American society being reinforced in 1896 by the Plessy vs. Fergusoncase where it was decided that segregation was constitutional under the statement that it was “separate but equal” . More worryingly, during this clip the figure of African-Americans falling victim to lynching was quickly turning. Due to these declining conditions many Afro-american leaders of the clip developed a tolerating attitude towards the obvious subjugation at that place people were enduring, believing that vocal protest would merely do state of affairss worse, and so alternatively they would appeal for assistance from affluent and influential Whites and promote African americans to “lift themselves by their bootstraps” [ 1 ] .

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When looking at the background context it becomes clear why Washington and Du Bois had differing positions when it came to Civil Rights. Washington had been born a slave in the South and grew up ill fed and clothed and was denied an instruction. Turning up in the South Washington would hold had first manus experience with the kind of favoritism many African-American ‘s were faced with at the clip and would hold besides understood the existent fear many African-American ‘s had of lynching. With this in head it can be seen why Washington would hold been more cautious in his methods of come oning Civil Rights. Du Bois by contrast was born a freewoman in the North and did n’t endure favoritism until he entered higher instruction, and so it is apprehensible why he would non hold had the same reserves as Washington when it came to a more extremist attack to covering with the subjugation of African-Americans.

Washington ‘s work for the Afro-american race can be most clearly seen when looking at the Tuskegee Institution, which still exists today. The school opened in July 1881 and was at the beginning merely infinite rented from a local church, with merely one instructor, that being Washington. The undermentioned twelvemonth Washington was able to buy a former plantation, which became the lasting site of the school, and the pupils themselves erected and fitted the edifices, every bit good as turning their ain harvests and rise uping their ain farm animal. While the Tuskegee Institute did offer some academic preparation for instructors, its chief focal point was on supplying practical accomplishments needed to last in rural countries, such as woodworking and modern agricultural techniques. It can be argued that this more vocational angle towards learning was damaging in the patterned advance of African-American rights, nevertheless Washington believed that to go socially equal to Whites, African-Americans must foremost go economically equal and show that they are responsible American citizens, who had something to offer society. Besides, it can be argued that the practical instruction of the Tuskegee Institute was far more good for the clip than academic instruction would hold been. The Institute is besides a good illustration of why possibly Washington had some virtue with his positions of calming. Washington was able to utilize his friendly relationship with powerful white work forces to assist finance the school and even got ex-slave proprietors, such as George W. Campbell, to back up the new school. Without this assistance it is improbable that the Tuskegee Institute would hold of all time evolved from a little rented room into the immense establishment that it is today.

While the Tuskegee Institute showcased Washington ‘s positions on instruction the Atlanta Expedition Address illustrated what he purportedly believed African-American ‘s topographic point in society should be. Washington delivered the reference in 1895, and was designed to “cement the friendly relationship of the races and convey approximately hearty cooperation between them” [ 2 ] . Washington ‘s chief intent with the Atlanta Address was to assist accomplish a realistic colony between Southern Whites, Northern Whites and the African-American community in a clip when race dealingss were merely acquiring worse. Washington was no uncertainty anxious non to antagonize the white population who held African-American ‘s at their clemency, and so he “urged inkinesss to stay in the South, work at the ‘common businesss of life ‘ , and accept the fact of white supremacy” [ 3 ] . When turn toing the white population in his address Washington reassured them that African-American ‘s had no purpose or involvement in procuring societal equality, that all they required was economic cooperation, “In all things that are strictly societal we can be every bit separate as the fingers, yet one as the manus in all things indispensable to common progress” [ 4 ] .

The work Washington did for African-American crossed over into the 20th century with the creative activity of the National Negro Business Leaguein 1900. The purpose of the League was to assist advance and foster the commercial and fiscal development of Afro-american concern [ 5 ] , non merely in the South but besides the North of America. The creative activity of the League empathized Washington ‘s belief that to go socially equal to Whites that African-American ‘s must foremost go economically equal. However it can be argued that the League held small importance when sing Afro-american concern as it did small to help, but that it allowed Washington to hold a “stronghold” of work forces in every black population of importance [ 6 ] .

Compared to Washington Du Bois political positions can be seen as being rather extremist for the societal clime of the clip. Du Bois likely had more extremist positions because of his different background, as he did n’t hold a history of bondage and did populate in fright of lynching the manner many African-American ‘s did at the clip. However, Du Bois did portion some similarities in idea with Washington, for illustration Du Bois besides believed that African-American ‘s needed to assist convey themselves out of societal inequality. However, unlike Washington, Du Bois believed that African-American ‘s needful leading from a college-educated elite and that simple vocational instruction was n’t plenty to promote the place of African-American ‘s in society, “Men we shall hold merely as we make manhood the object of the work of the schools – intelligence, wide understanding, cognition of the universe that was and is, and of the relation of work forces to it – this is the course of study of that Higher Education which must underlie true life.On this foundation we may construct staff of life winning, accomplishment of manus and adeptness of encephalon, with ne’er a fright lest the kid and adult male mistake the agencies of life for the object of life” [ 7 ] , Du Bois set out the thoughts of an elect group of African-American ‘s learning other Afro-american ‘s in his “The Talented Tenth” article, the thought being that there was one in 10 African-American ‘s, the gifted ten percent, was capable of going an influential leader, who would take other Afro-american ‘s to a better hereafter.

Du Bois had many unfavorable judgment of Washington, many of which he set out in an essay in 1903 titled “Of Mr Booker T Washington and Others” . Du Bois felt that Washington focused excessively much on vocational instruction and that “his educational plan was excessively narrow” [ 8 ] . This peculiar unfavorable judgment no uncertainty evolved from Du Bois ‘ ain instruction which was broad and varied, and his more privileged background which allowed him the luxury of researching avenues of instruction that would n’t straight take to work. Du Bois besides believed that Washington ‘s methods and statements “practically accepts the alleged lower status of the Negro races” [ 9 ] . This unfavorable judgment is about wholly valid as Washington himself stated that African-Americans should accept White Supremacy in his Atlanta Expedition Address, and while it is dubious that Washington himself saw the Afro-american race as inferior, he did small to seek and convert the general population otherwise.

Washington urged African-American ‘s to gain security through economic agencies and proficient accomplishments, and he put small importance on higher instruction and political and societal rights, believing that they would follow of course from economic freedom. However Du Bois argued that this attack would take to many African-American ‘s life below the poorness line, because he believed that it was impossible for most people to derive economic rights and freedoms when they were unequal socially. Du Bois besides clashed with Washington due to their differing political political orientations. While Washington championed capitalist ideals, Du Bois, who became a prima Black Marxist, felt that any societal freedoms gained by economic advancement would do the Afro-american population into dishonorable money shapers [ 10 ] .

Du Bois ‘ Marxist positions came into drama with other depreciations he had with Washington, most apparent in 1903 when Du Bois tried to turn out Washington was utilizing “hush money” to command the Afro-american imperativeness, to do certain his ain positions were the more favoured in print [ 11 ] .

To some grade Du Bois ‘ unfavorable judgments of Washington were valid, as Washington did small to decide the societal issues that plagued the Afro-american race, so as non to look controversial or endangering to the white population. However, when looking at the backgrounds of the two leaders it becomes obvious why they had such opponent positions. Washington had been born a Slave in the South and so he would of course be more cautious and reserved when covering with the white population as he knew the harm that a bulk population could do to African-American ‘s. He matured in a clip when the figure of lynchings was of all time turning, and so he would to the full recognize and understand the fright most African-American ‘s lived with. Du Bois by contrast, was born a freewoman in the North, which was far more broad and accepting than the South and so he did n’t hold a proper appreciation of the mundane jobs and anxiousnesss many African americans ‘ dealt with. It can besides be argued that while Du Bois spent big sums of his clip knocking Washington, he really did nil practical to send on the advancement of African-Americans ‘ the manner Washington did with the Tuskegee Institute.

While Du Bois was Washington ‘s most vocal and celebrated opposition, he was far from the lone rival. A black president of Atlanta University, John Hope, was vocal of his dissension with Washington ‘s Atlanta Address, saying in 1896 “I see it as cowardly and dishonest for any of our coloured work forces to state white people and colored people that we are non fighting for equality. Now catch your breath, for I am traveling to state that we demand societal equality” [ 12 ] . While this position was to be expected among Northern black leaders, Hope shattered the semblance that all African-American ‘s in the South were willing to merely accept their lowered societal position.

William Monroe Trotter, editor of the Boston Guardian, was another of Washington ‘s most unforgiving critics and claimed that “ [ Washington ] , whatever good he may make, has injured and is wounding the race more than he can help it by his school. Let us trust that Booker Washington will stay mouth-closed at Tuskegee. If he will make this, all his former wickednesss will be forgiven” [ 13 ] . Trotter ‘s positions are to some grade far harsher than Du Bois ‘ were, but the general thought subject is the same, that Washington was non assisting the Afro-american race by deemphasising the importance of societal equality, and that he was in fact impeding to motion. Trotter besides challenged Washington at a National Negro Business League meeting in Boston while Washington was giving a address. Trotter posed a figure of inquiries that challenged Washington and his positions, before he was arrested. While Washington did non react to the challenges, Trotter made his point and the incident was reported as “The Boston Riot” the following twenty-four hours in documents.

As can be seen, Washington and Du Bois had to some degree really opposing positions on how to manage and come on the Afro-american race. Washington put great empathise on vocational instruction that would give practical accomplishments to African-American ‘s life in the South. Rather than concentrate on societal and political equality, Washington stressed the importance of economic promotion, believing that one time the mean Afro-american had the power of wealth that political and societal freedoms and powers would follow. Washington felt there was great importance in pacifying the white bulk, for the economic and political power it affording him in fostering the Afro-american cause and because he lived in the turbulent South, where it was unsafe to be a extremist black adult male. Du Bois ‘ political thoughts contrasted with Washington ‘s thought of “appeasement” and he had a far more extremist attack to Civil Rights. Du Bois did n’t believe that it was possible for African-American ‘s to accomplish economic equality before they had achieved societal and political equality. Du Bois ‘ more extremist attack stems from his background, as he did non portion the same fright as Washington and did non see the same signifiers of racism. Bu Bois could afford to be more extremist has he had non experienced bondage and his arrangement in the North meant that he did non portion the fright of lynching that many in the South had. Du Bois besides put more empathise on academic instruction and did non experience that Washington ‘s vocational instruction would be utile in assisting the advancement of African-Americans. However, Washington and Du Bois did portion some similarities in political idea. They both recognised the importance of holding the support of powerful white work forces, who could both finance and promote their cause.

While both Washington and Du Bois had good statements for making things in their peculiar ways, it is likely safe to state that neither had perfect schemes. Washington was excessively timid to reason for equality, and Du Bois had no practical thoughts he could implement. It is just to propose that a mixture of their two positions would hold been the best manner to come on the Afro-american cause, as Washington had practical methods of improved the mean Afro-american ‘s life, such as the Tuskegee Institute, and Du Bois was able to protest the obvious subjugation that African-Americans ‘ suffered.


American Memory from the Library of Congress, 2008, National Negro Business League, hypertext transfer protocol: //

Fairclough, Adam, 2002, Better Day Coming: Blacks and Equality, 1890-2000, New York: Penguin Books

Franklin, John H. , Meier, August, 1982, Black Leaders of the Twentieth Century, Illinois: University of Illinois Press

History Matters, 2006, Booker T. Washington Delivers the 1895 Atlanta Compromise Speech, hypertext transfer protocol: //

History Matters, 2006, W.E.B. DuBois Critiques Booker T. Washington: Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others, hypertext transfer protocol: //, 2008, The Talented Tenth by WEB Du Bois, hypertext transfer protocol: // document=174

White, John,1985, Black Leadership in America 1895-1968, New York: Longman Inc.


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