Segregation has been present in the United States since the early 1600s. It was not until about fifty years ago that Black Americans were granted full and equal rights. During the period of 1877-1915, Booker T. Washington and W. E. B Du Bois took antithesis views on segregation; one being pacifying and conscious, and the other immediate and radical. It was almost a struggle between the two opposing forces working for the same common goal. Washington’s strategy was a conscious one; he thought everything would come eventually and he urged his followers to bide time.
Du Bois has a much more immediate strategy; he wanted affirmative action instantaneously. Washington used his slow paced plan to create schools of industry such as the Tuskegee Institute. He created these schools to show mourning Black Americans the opportunities they had available to them. These schools did not promote politics or civil and intellectual rights, but taught African Americans basic and simple jobs. These schools did not challenge and extend intellectual knowledge to the fullest. W. E. B. Du Bois took a radical and harsh approach of telling Black Americans they were being treated unfairly by whites.
He wanted black men specifically to go out and speak about the injustices they were suffering to receive fair treatment. Du Bois planned to take action for what he believed it. Washington urged blacks to cope with the current situation during the late nineteenth century. Du Bois, on the other hand, supported fighting for what the Black American community deserved. Washington simply settled while Du Bois was aggressive. Washington wanted the white and blacks to work together. Du Bois figured blacks needed equal rights as whites do, but that this could only be accomplished by integration.
As shown by Document A, the school enrollment by race was much lower for blacks in the period before Washington and Du Bois became a great impact on the educational system. Beginning around 1905, there was an upward spike in Black schooled children which is credited to the efforts and influence from Washington and Du Bois. From 1890-1910, the percentage of illiteracy in blacks decreased by over half as shown in Document B. Motives to change these rates come from each man’s own personal background. Du Bois was the first in his family to receive and education and graduate from college.
He graduated from Harvard, and during the graduation ceremony, he thanked the school for his education. Du Bois was grateful of his education and insisted on educating Black American children. Although Du Bois educated children, Booker T. Washington really contributed to the increased schooling rate during the early twentieth century. During the Chautauqua Movement, many African Americans were pulled out of schools. Washington handled this situation by opening his own schooling system. Washington invited George Washington Carver to be a professor at his school.
While teaching at the Tuskegee Institute, Carver helped educate blacks to become teachers and created many opportunities and futures. Washington strongly believed that education was the strongest obstacle to tackle. Du Bois had larger barriers to conquer. W. E. B. Du Bois voiced his opinion in The Souls of Black Folk, Document E. He explains to his followers that it is possible to make economic progress without political rights. Although, it was hard for African Americans to develop as individuals while the Jim Crow Laws were in place. These laws greatly discriminated and segregated Black Americans.
Blacks were referred to as “colored” and were separated from whites. Public utilities such as water fountains for bathrooms were segregated. Du Bois demanded civic equality. He knew his outrageous demands would not be fulfilled immediately, but expects they will in time. Booker T. Washington also believed that Black Americans should have the right to vote and civic equality but was willing to adapt to the lifestyle already created for them. Washington wanted to coexist with whites and not fight against them for equality. He was one to adjust to the situation presented. In the Supreme Court Case, Plessey v.
Ferguson, it was ruled that separate box cars for blacks and white was fair. This made separation equal. Washington was willing to cope with this type of ‘equal’ separation; Du Bois was not. The strategies, viewpoints, and courses of actions between Booker T. Washington and W. E. B Du Bois were contradictory during the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. These opposite views helped set the foundation for activists such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. Today, segregation and discrimination no longer exists in appreciation to all men and women who participated in the equal rights movement.