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Booker T Washington Born Into Slavery History Essay

Info: 2177 words (9 pages) Essay
Published: 1st Jan 2015 in History

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Booker T Washington and W.E.B Dubois were both born into slavery. They had many of the same life experiences. Despite them having experienced similar things growing up they had different views for the post-slavery Negro. Different views on how the Negros and Whites should co-exist.

Booker T Washington’s Atlanta Exposition Address outlined his ideas on how Negro and White America could co-exist. His first point was for there to be mutual respect between the two races. Because of the years of slavery, nursing the sick, nursing their children and working their fields. For these reasons the Negros have earned their respect. That smell gesture of respect would be a major move toward solidifying the relationship between the Negros and the whites.

He also felt that the white southern business owners help the Negros more. They should invest money in the black community. Teach them how to make money. In showing them how to invest and save money Booker T Washington felt that would begin to change the opinion Negros had of the white man.

He also addressed the issues that the Negro had with their own community. He used a metaphor of two vessels to represent the Negros. The two vessels were symbolic of the state of mind Negros were in shortly after the end of slavery. They were looking for handouts. And whatever money they did have they squandered it on foolish things (i.e.: expenses, clothes, sex, alcohol, tobacco and cars)

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He addressed the Atlanta Exposition crowd to show them that the Negro community was an emerging financial market. The time to invest in the market was now. Now would be the best time to invest time and money to help the community grow, rather than using their money to oppress the Negro race. He told them they would see a thousand percent return on whatever money they put into the black community.

W.E.B Dubois on the other hand wanted the Negros to be totally dependent on them and not to look to the…

DuBois and Washington on Education

Over 100 years ago W.E.B DuBois and Booker T. Washington began a debate over strategies for black social and economic progress, which is still prevalent today. Booker T. Washington believed that the role of education for African Americans should be an industrial one, where as W.E.B DuBois wanted African Americans to become engaged in a Liberal Arts education.

Washington’s approach to solving the problems African Americans faced was rooted in his belief in an industrial education. Born a slave and educated at Hampton Institute Washington learned from a trade and skill based curriculum. He advocated a philosophy of self-help, accommodation and racial solidarity. He believed that the best option for African Americans was, for the time being, to accept discrimination and work hard to gain material prosperity. Washington believed in education of a practical craft, through which African Americans would win the respect of whites, become full citizens, and become fully integrated into all aspects of society.

During a time of worsening social, political and economic conditions for African Americans Washington emerged as the major spokesman for the gradualist economic strategy. His rise to national prominence came in 1895 with his “Atlanta Compromise” address. Washington called on white Americans to provide jobs and industrial education for blacks, in exchange for blacks giving up demands for social equality. His message was that political and social equality were less important then the immediate goal of economic independence. He urged blacks to work as skilled artisans, domestic servants, and farmers in order to prove there worth in the white community. Washington believed that once African Americans had gained that economic foothold and proven themselves useful to whites, social equality would be given to them

W.E.B. DuBois, a black intellectual believed that Washington’s strategy would only serve to perpetuate white oppression. DuBois initially advocated for Washington’s strategy, however he grew to find it unacceptable as he became more outspoken about racial injustice. DuBois campaigned for a civil rights agenda and argued that educated blacks could accomplish social change. With the belief that African Americans should work together to battle inequality DuBois helped found the NAACP. DuBois was not content with attempting to gain an economic foothold; he wanted absolute equality in all aspects of life. DuBois believed that Washington “devalued the study of liberal arts, and ignored the economic exploitation of the black masses. He believed that “The Negro Race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men. The problem of education then, among Negroes, must first of all deal with the ‘Talented Tenth.’ [which] is the problem of developing the best of this race that they may guide the Mass away from the contamination and death of the worst.” He believed that the economic and political issues facing African Americans could be solved if the most talented ten percent of African Americans were trained. He argued that tenth would pull up the rest of the African American community. DuBois contended that teaching men a craft would make then artisans but it would not create “men” and achieving “manhood” is the only acceptable goal of education . He believes that only in a foundation of “intelligence, broad sympathy, knowledge of the world that was and is, and of the relation of men to it” can black men begin “building bread winning skills of hand and quickness of mind”.

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The issues regarding education, which Washington and DuBois grappled with, continue to cause debate. Their debate highlights the historic and ongoing issue of whether a vocational education or a liberal arts education best prepares the majority of the population for a prosperous and productive life. After 100 years neither man has been proven right or wrong. There are many implications for current educational policy that can be traced back to this debate. Some scholars argue that increased support from private industry on the education sector has lead to a shift towards vocational studies in colleges. If this is the case then the debate between DuBois and Washington provides a good point of reflection for those who are designing educational programs to make it more relevant to private interests. The Washington DuBois debate resembles some of the tensions that arise from private-public partnerships. Vocational education remains prominent to this day and can be very effective. On the other hand many well educated black leaders since such as Martin Luther King, Obama, and others are seemingly helping to pull up the entire black community. I believe that to best help African American males prosper today we must utilize both approaches. The two approaches seem to address two different socio-economic classes in the African American community. Where DuBois seems to focus on the bourgeois intelligentsia Washington targets the struggling man. I believe that if we are able to bring the vocational and liberal arts educations together and offer them to the African American masses we may be able to fix the education issues that face African American men today.

To effectively change a society one must be willing to argue, resist, and sometimes, fight. In The Souls of Black Folk, DuBois argues that Booker T. Washington’s approach to gaining equal rights for African-Americans is too settle and to create such a drastic change in society requires direct action. As seen with the American Revolution, and Martin Luther King Jr., to stand up for one’s rights is to take direct action. One can not just merely assimilate into the dominant society and be hushed, or else one will never gain the equality rights desired.

In the third chapter of DuBois’ book, titled, “Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others,” he discusses Washington’s approach using rhetorical devices, mostly logos and some pathos. He writes, “In failing thus to state plainly and unequivocally the legitimate demands of their people, even at the cost of opposing an honored leader, the thinking classes of American Negroes would shirk a heavy responsibility,–a responsibility to themselves, a responsibility to the struggling masses, a responsibility to the darker races of men whose future depends so largely on this American experiment, but especially a responsibility to this nation,–this common Fatherland.” By this, BuBois is arguing that it is the African-Americans’ duties as a patriot and civilian to demand their equality rights. This is not only appealing to logos, but to pathos. DuBois evokes a sense of patriotism in his audience, mixed with the logic that if one is living off the land which was built on the foundation of The Declaration of Independence which states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” then one should be able to attain those “unalienable rights.” As DuBois quotes the historic document, it is perceptible to see his audience nodding in agreement as their hearts fill with zeal and desire to attain suffrage and equality.

In another instance of logos, DuBois writes, “In answer to this, it has been claimed that the Negro can survive only through submission. Mr. Washington distinctly asks that black people give up, at least for the present, three things,–first, political power; second, insistence on civil rights; third, higher education of Negro youth,–and concentrate all their energies on industrial education, the accumulation of wealth, and the conciliation of the South.” He lays out all the facts clearly for his audience. With such clear and precise sentences, the audience can easily see that yes, Washington is advocating loss of political rights for acceptance in the society. DuBois’ appeals to logos is extremely effective because is shows that deep thought was pondered, and that he is not acting or writing out of rash feelings. Appealing to a person’s logic and emotions, works for DuBois’ advantage when he makes his argument.

In the American Revolution, the colonists wanted to be free from being oppressed by the British- just like how the African- Americans wanted to be free from the white superiority. To do so, the colonist went on a series of riots and resistance against the government. Starting with the Boston Massacre and ending with the signing of The Declaration of Independence, the colonists’ voices were heard loud and clear and their hard work, sweat, and blood, gave them their hard-earned independence. The same mentality can be applied to the Civil Rights Movement of DuBois’ time period. If the blacks are willing to work, and make themselves heard; if they are willing to sacrifice their lives and make themselves feared by the whites, then they would have a much stronger chance at gaining equal rights than by merely obeying the whites like some dog. Whereas Washington’s advocacy for a peaceful gain of equality is idealistic, DuBois’ argument for direct action towards the same goal is practical. This is also where the logic comes in to effectively prove an argument.

The argument between DuBois and Washington about the African Americans is like that of the school bully who picks on the obedient, passive, little boy. If the little boy continues to be passive and take the beatings, then the bully will just keep pushing him over and act in a condescending manner. However, if the little boy stands up for himself, and fights back- creating a name for himself, then the bully will back off and respect the boy. Same with the African- Americans, if they continue to be oppressed by the whites, then the whites will just keep taking away their already limited rights, and continue with the segregation and derogative slang. But if the blacks begin to resist the white supremacy, then the whites will begin to retreat- sometimes, even in fear- making way for the blacks to seize their chance and acquire egalitarianism in society.

Thus seen, DuBois has a stronger argument. It is practical, logical, and thoroughly thought. If one is able to take direct action, then one is able inch that much closer to reaching one’s goal. This whole issue about the rights of African Americans is centered on balance- Yin and Yang. If the whites would just let the blacks be equal in status, then the two races can live in harmony. After all, Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “If man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”


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