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W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington were two of the greatest leaders in the 19th and 20th century who had high hopes for the African American communities, but they disagreed on their strategies for black social and economic growth. Washington believed in education to learn new skills/trades, and patience he believed educations “is to teach the present generation to provide a material or industrial foundation” so, wait it out the times will change just learn trades you are able to survive off. He preached a philosophy of self-help, racial solidarity and accepted that black Americans would remain a second-class citizen, Dubois could not. Dubois believed African Americans can do better than accepting their second-class citizenship by getting college educations and giving them a broad base of understanding, so they can make their own choices in life instead of only offering a certain type of job solely based on the color of his skin. Education should teach students to be critical thinkers and impassioned citizens not just pick up a specific trade.
Booker T. Washington was born a slave in the 1850s but died as one of the most influential African-American intellectuals of the late 19th century. When emancipated after the Civil War, he became one of the few African Americans to complete school, as a result of which he became a teacher. Washington argued that when whites saw African Americans contributing as productive members of society, equality would naturally follow. African Americans should abandon their short-term hopes of social and political equality. Washington expressed his vision for African Americans in his direction of the school he started. He believed that by providing needed skills to society, African Americans would play their part, leading to acceptance by white Americans. He believed that blacks would eventually gain full participation in society by acting as responsible, reliable American citizens. Being born a slave and having to work so hard to become successful plays a great role in Washington’s political philosophy. In the “Atlanta Compromise” speech, Washington stated that African Americans should accept disenfranchisement and social segregation if whites allow them economic progress, educational opportunity and justice in the courts. Which coming from what he saw growing up this makes sense that this is what he thought was possible for the future. Not all had the same beliefs as Washington.
DuBois publicly opposed Booker T. Washington’s ‘Atlanta Compromise’, an agreement that asserted that vocational education for blacks was more valuable to them than social advantages like higher education or political office. DuBois was born 1868 to a free black family who owned land and did not experience racism until he went Nashville, Tennessee, to attend Fisk University. He criticized Washington for not demanding equality for African Americans, as granted by the 14th Amendment. Dubois believed that all people of African descent had common interests and should work together in the struggle for their freedom and not just for the trade school jobs.
I think both men’s upbringing played major roles in why they had such different point of views. Washington growing up in the south urged blacks to accept discrimination for the time being and concentrate on elevating themselves through hard work and material prosperity. Where DuBois wanted all to fight the fight for equal freedom and rights as white Americans. Washington believed that it was economic independence and the ability to show themselves as productive members of society that would eventually lead blacks to true equality, and that they should for the time being set aside any demands for civil rights. DuBois maintained that education and civil rights were the only way to equality, and that conceding their pursuit would simply serve to reinforce the notion of blacks as second-class citizens.
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