Free Custom «Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois» Essay Paper

Free Custom «Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois» Essay Paper

The Plessy v. Ferguson doctrine appeared in 1896; it marked the beginning of the better future of the African Americans. W. E. B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington had different strategies. They helped reshape not only the South but also the United States as a whole. Many African Americans went to schools. The level of tolerance between the Caucasians and African Americans reached the highest level. Washington and Du Bois had contrary views of the future of the African Americans, but both agreed on the necessity of eradicating racism within the USA. The South had reshaped because of their activity after the Reconstruction, their political, educational, economic concepts, and views on leadership. Consequently, the African Americans gained the white people’s acceptance and society’s respect.

Booker T. Washington as the Leader of the African American Society

Booker T. Washington led a movement for the economic development of the black population. Born a slave, Washington concluded that practical skills and economic independence were the keys to the progress of black people. He grew up in the age of Reconstruction, which shaped his belief about the postwar social rebuilding. That process had started at the wrong end; it focused on the civil and political rights rather than economic development. In order to reach a desirable educational level of the community, Washington decided to found his new school, the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (now the Tuskegee University). General Samuel C. Armstrong, with whom Booker worked as a secretary, recommended him for the position of the regulator of the educational process (Norrell 65). Washington launched an industrial training there. In the school, black men could master the crafts such as carpentry and blacksmithing; women learned how to be nurses or tailors. The Tuskegee Institute also trained teachers for the African American schools all over the South. This approach helped the black people become economically productive citizens without forcing the country to address the issue of civil rights directly. Booker T. Washington was sure that the cooperation with the white people would benefit the African Americans. In September 1895, Washington delivered his famous speech, The Atlanta Compromise, in front of the white audience (Norrell 314). He argued that the greatest danger, which the African Americans faced, was the great leap from the slavery to freedom. Washington emphasized that the prosperity was the result of mutual support in the community, their skill to dignify and appreciate the routine actions. He acknowledged the importance of the Sharecropping system for the further development. Booker T. Washington was sure that the African Americans had to take a fresh start from the very beginning and earn respect with the hard everyday work. According to Washington, the vision of leadership in the community was unacceptable (Norrell 451). He encouraged people to accept the status and cultivate the virtues of enterprise, thrift, and patience. Washington understood respect as a result of providing the necessity, and it was the principal issue in his program.

W. E. B. Du Bois and His Confrontation with Booker T. Washington

Du Bois was in opposition to Washington, even having shared the common idea with his competitor. Many African Americans preferred to follow the teachings of the historian and social scientist William Edward Burghardt Du Bois. A graduate of the Fisk University, which was considered a traditional high school for the African Americans in Nashville, Tennessee, W. E. B. Du Bois took doctor’s degree in history at Harvard University and began teaching at the University of Atlanta (Lewis 51). He believed that the social sciences were essential to the improvement of the relations between races. Du Bois gradually concluded that the African Americans would gain the civil rights only through direct political agitation and protests. He opposed Booker T. Washington and emphasized the necessity of the education and development. His core belief was the equality of the African Americans and Caucasians, who enjoyed the leading role in the world. Du Bois suggested making improvements in the society with the help of The Talented Tenth (Lewis 412). He called that way a small group of the college-educated African Americans who were to be the leading thinkers and missionaries of the culture among people. Du Bois idealistically regarded moral self-improvement and education as the crucial prerequisites for the implementation of the democratic reforms. The visions and ideas of Du Bois found their place in the literature works of the leader. Many of them appeared in The New Negro anthology, where the works on political aspects of racism and freedom movement found their place (Lewis 545).

Shared and Confronted Views of the Leaders and Their Impact on the Development of the Community

The comparison of the ideas of Washington and Du Bois proved the leaders mutual desire to gain freedom and respect to the African American society. While there was a number of issues of contention between the two leaders, their standpoints also had similar features. They both agreed that all the African Americans were eligible to civil rights and freedoms. However, they saw the route for the development in different ways. Booker T. Washington considered education weighty only for the improvement of the industrial and agricultural skills, when Du Bois wanted the community to focus on the college education and sciences. Washington hoped to create an independent, self-sufficient, and respected community consisting of the hard-working and conservative people while Du Bois wanted the Talented Ten of the society to bring the race to prosperity. Washington saw the process of reconstruction as a long route while Du Bois demanded immediate actions and asked the community to take measures and fight for the rights. He raised the question of double consciousness and the identity complexity of individuals, who had both African and American background and lived in the racist society (Lewis 432). He considered the problem of self-identification of citizens and the impact of reconstruction on their psychological health. Despite the fact that they struggled for their freedom, the echoes of racism contributed to the destructive daily routine of the free life. Washington supported the idea of psychological vulnerability, but he determined it as a temporary problem that would eventually vanish.

The mutual desire of the leaders to reach freedom for the African American was intangible. The major diversity of the visions of the two leaders was caused by their background. Booker T. Washington, as a former slave, understood the significance of the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution of the USA and wanted his community to find the way to the better future (Prince 112). Du Bois was born in the North, and he grew up in freedom of the predominantly white environment. This difference is the key issue for the program building and beliefs of these two admirable individuals (Prince 127).

The Cooperation with the African American Communities

Stable work with different classes and parts of the community was significant to the establishment of freedom for the African Americans. Despite the fact that each leader desired prosperity of their nation, their confrontation was too strong. Therefore, Du Bois condemned Booker T. Washington's rejection of an active policy of protecting the civil rights of the African Americans. Du Bois saw the solution to the problem in the foundation of the Niagara Movement for formulating an organized policy; the organization started working in 1905 (Lewis 610). With the leaders of this movement, Du Bois created a rigorous plan and put forward the following demands: the right to vote for all African Americans, equal economic and educational opportunities, the end of discrimination, and complete civil rights. At the meetings of the Niagara Movement, Du Bois delivered hot speeches, in which he proclaimed the right of every African American to identical rights with the Caucasians (Lewis 612). According to the leader, the fighting for the civil rights was the struggle of the entire U.S. population, but not separate groups. The Niagara Movement has not made great strides in changing the situation, and in 1909, Du Bois joined another group, which was also fighting for the civil rights of the African Americans (Lewis 635). Together, they formed the National Association for the Advancement of the Colored People (NAACP). Among the 18 members, there were Oswald Garrison Villard, Charles Edward Russell, Mary White Ovington, William English Walling, Josephine Ruffin, Jane Adams, and Charles Darrow (Lewis 636). In the Niagara Movement, all the founders were African Americans while, in the NAACP, there were three white Americans.

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However, Booker T. Washington developed stable cooperation with different representatives of the community. He wrote several books; the most famous one is Up from Slavery (Prince 76). The work in the institute was not limited, and Washington used every opportunity and his orator’s gift to fight for the education and awareness of the black population (Prince 227). He was the first African American in the U.S. history, who gave a public talk to the white audience; it was his famous Atlanta Compromise. In his speech, Booker T. Washington asked for the equality in only two areas: employment and entrepreneurship. This speech made him the leader of the African Americans (Norrell 453). Booker T. Washington was able to attract the attention of listeners; soon, his public addresses began to bring tangible benefits to the Tuskegee Institute. President Theodore Roosevelt consulted him regarding the appointments to public office of certain African Americans and even Caucasian Southerners. In 1896, Washington made a trip to Europe (Norrell 478). After returning to the United States, he has become a recognizable leader in the part of the black population of America, who felt the need for the peaceful resolution of the race issue. Despite the leadership and success of Booker T. Washington, in 1910, Du Bois resumed attacks on him and his movement (Lewis 545). Together with 22 other prominent African Americans, he signed the statement, in which Du Bois accused Washington of the dependence on the wealthy segments of society and complete inactivity (Prince 298). The background for this action was the popularity of Washington and his close relations with the Government.


Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois were the outstanding representatives of their epoch. They have succeeded in the fight for the prosperity and equal rights of the African Americans. Despite a stable confrontation of the two leaders, they both had shaped the future of the whole country. Their fight with the laws and misunderstanding with the help of the movements, and their stable support formed the background for the changes in the community. The written works of Washington and Du Bois are now the heritage of the U.S. history and the witness of the struggle of the African Americans for the common rights and freedoms.



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