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MASTERPIECE2020

The criticism against Booker T. Washington controversial race philosophy

Question

Your Response Paper this week is based on these readings:

B.T Washington–Atlanta Exposition Address.doc

W.E.B. Du Bois–Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others.doc (from pg 5 line 14 through pg 8 line 20)Doing some extra research on Washington and Du Bois is highly encouraged).    

You can use this week\’s Response Paper as part of your Week 6 Final Response Paper, so a good effort here pays double dividends.  This week\’s Discussion should have provided a good platform for the writing as well.  Here are the guidelines for this week\’s Paper:

–The topic is the differing race philosophies of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois.

–Response should be 2-3 pages.

–Should have an original title, introduction, body, conclusion, in-text citations and a Works Cited page.

–Make sure to quote from the source material to back up your points.

Keep in mind that this is not an issue of who was right and who was wrong.  In fact, both men were right and wrong at the same time, as we will see in our Week 6 module.  

Here is some background on Du Bois:

and Washington:

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The criticism against Booker T. Washington controversial race philosophy

Introduction

Towards the end of the 19th century, the African Americans gained freedom from slavery after the passing of the 13th amendment. The joy of freedom did not last long since the African Americans realized that despite the abolition of slavery, the Negroes were not allowed to have equal rights as their former masters. The few African Americans who had gained literacy embarked on a tough crusade to advocate for social equity. Among the first African American leaders was Booker T. Washington who gained national wide recognition as the spokesperson of the African Americans. In his famous “Atlanta Compromise” address, Booker T. Washington made it clear that the Negroes were willing to sacrifice political equality in exchange for education and economic opportunities. Several Africans Americans criticized Washington, and among the most noticeable was W.E.B. Dubois.  In this essay, the different race philosophies of the two African American leaders are analyzed.

The Differing Philosophies

            Booker T. Washington was born into slavery but he was still young when the 13th amendment was made in 1865. Therefore, he got the opportunity to go to school and be among the first educated African American elites. Booker T. Washington was keen to associate himself with the white leaders who assisted him in funding development projects in the southern states where the African Americans were living. Therefore, Washington gained favor among both the whites and the Negroes.

Washington’s philosophy was to build the capacity of the African Americans through provision of quality education and opening up entrepreneurship opportunities for the Negroes. In his “Atlanta Compromise” address, he beseeched the African Americans in the southern states to humble themselves before the whites and accept the offer of quality education and economic opportunities from the whites. He urged the negroes that “The opportunity to earn a dollar in a factory just now is worth infinitely more than the opportunity to spend a dollar in an opera-house” (Harlan 587). This implied that the Negroes should be willing to embrace the economic opportunities offered by the whites such as employment and forget about their rights to social equality.

            On the other hand, W.E.B. Dubois had a different philosophy on the way forward for the African Americans. Just like Booker T. Washington, Dubois was also among the first educated African American elites. He went to Harvard and went on to teach at the Atlantic University. Dubois did not agree with the philosophy of Washington because he argued Washington had conceded too much ground to the whites. Dubois’ philosophy was to mobilize the highly educated African Americans and engage the whites in a bid to gain equal social, economic, and political recognition. To champion this cause, Dubois mobilized highly educated African Americans to form the Niagara movement to protest to the government. In referring to Washington’s philosophies, Dubois (n.p.) wrote “The black men of America have a duty to perform, a duty stern and delicate,—a forward movement to oppose a part of the work of their greatest leader”. It was clear that Dubois was ready to go against the philosophies of Booker T. Washington and fight for equality.

Conclusion

            Eventually, the different philosophies of the African American leaders allowed the whites to continue oppressing the Negroes based on the words of their leaders. Those who continued to undermine the Negroes were justified by the words of Washington that races are different in capability just as the fingers of the hand. The conservative whites had a reason to suppress the civil rights movement and label the civil right leaders as violent and inconsiderate.

Works cited

DuBois,  Burghardt The Souls of Black Folk (Chicago, 1903).

Harlan, Louis ed., The Booker T. Washington Papers, Vol. 3, (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1974), 583–587.