*The debate over the best course for racial advancement in America by 1905 was run by:
* Booker T. Washington * Booker T. Washington did not think that social equality of the races was as important as economic equality. He said: * “The wisest among my race understand that the agitation of questions of social equality is the extremest folly, and that progress in the enjoyment of all the privileges that will come to us must be the result of severe and constant struggle rather than of artificial forcing. ” — Washington, Atlanta Exposition Address, 1895.
* W. E. B. Du Bois * Du Bois later called Washington’s Atlanta Exposition Address the “Atlanta Compromise,” because it compromised social equality of the races in order to gain economic equality. Du Bois wrote to Washington and said of the Atlanta Address: * “My Dear Mr. Washington: Let me heartily congratulate you upon your phenomenal success in Atlanta — it was a word fitly spoken. “– Letter, Du Bois to Washington, Sept. 24, 1895 Education: BOOKER T. WASHINGTON: * Leading promoter of “industrial education.
” In addition to basic skills like reading and writing, it was important to learn a trade that would lead to a real job. * “Many have had the thought that industrial training was meant to make the Negro work, much as he worked during the days of slavery. This is far from my idea of it. If this training has any value for the Negro, as it has for the white man, it consists in teaching the Negro how rather not to work, but how to make the forces of nature — air, water, horse-power, steam, and electric power — work for him….
There should be a more vital and practical connection between the Negro’s educated brain and his opportunity of earning his daily living. “– Washington, The Future of the American Negro, 1899 * “There is no defense or security for any of us except in the highest intelligence and development of all. If anywhere there are efforts tending to curtail the fullest growth of the Negro, let these efforts be turned into stimulating, encouraging, and making him the most useful and intelligent citizen. “– Washington, Atlanta Exposition Address, 1895W. E. B.
DUBOIS * Du Bois emphasized the importance of higher education for African Americans. * “The Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men. The problem of education, then, among Negroes must first be to deal with the Talented Tenth; it 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, in their own and other races. “– W. E. B. Du Bois, The Negro Problem, 1903 * “I am an earnest advocate of manual training and trade teaching for black boys, and for white boys, too.
I believe that next to the founding of Negro colleges the most valuable addition to Negro education since the war, has been industrial training for black boys. ” — Du Bois, The Negro Problem, 1903 | | Politics: Accommodation or Agitation? The racial climate in the United States in the 1890s and early 1900s was described by the African American scholar Rayford Logan as “the nadir of Negro life in America. ” Lynching of African Americans was not uncommon. Southern states had disenfranchised African Americans. Segregation of public facilities, schools, and public transportation was widespread.
Given this potentially explosive climate, African American leaders pondered the best way to approach racial issues. Should they be dealt with quietly behind the scenes to avoid conflicts — or should they be approached with open, public protest? BOOKER T. WASHINGTON: * Washington practiced the politics of accommodation. His public statements throughout most of his career can be characterized as cautious, conservative, and designed not to cause open conflict with the whites who held political power. * “One third of the population of the South is of the Negro race.
No enterprise seeking the material, civil, or moral welfare of this section can disregard this element of our population and reach the highest success. ” — Washington, Atlanta Exposition Address, 1895 * In spite of his public pronouncements, Washington had an elaborate “secret life” that found him fighting for civil rights privately, by financing court cases, using his political clout to influence national leaders, and even helping Du Bois on several civil rights matters behind the scenes. * “It is not the Negro that keeps the South in its present dead political condition.
It is the intolerance [sic] of the Southern white man. It is the determination not to permit freedom of speech and freedom of action. ” — Washington, draft of a Statement on Southern Politics, 1900 W. E. B. DUBOIS: * The Niagara Movement, which Du Bois founded in 1905, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) both used public protest as a means of redressing grievances. * “To-day he stands as the one recognized spokesman of his ten million fellows, and one of the most notable figures in a nation of seventy millions.
One hesitates, therefore, to criticise [sic] a life which, beginning with so little, has done so much…. But so far as Mr. Washington apologizes for injustice, North or South, does not rightly value the privilege and duty of voting, belittles the emasculating effects of caste distinctions, and opposes the higher training and ambition of our brighter minds… we must unceasingly and firmly oppose them. ” — Du Bois, Souls of Black Folk, 1903 * “The American Negro demands equality — political equality, industrial equality, and social equality; and he is never going to rest satisfied with anything less.
He demands this in no spirit of braggadocio and with no obsequious envy of others, but as an absolute measure of self-defense and the only one that will assure to the darker races their ultimate survival on earth. ” — Du Bois, writing in the NAACP magazine The Crisis, 1915 Segregation BOOKER T. WASHINGTON: * When Booker T. Washington delivered the Atlanta Exposition Address in 1895, he was willing to compromise on the question of social segregation of the races if it helped keep the peace and allowed African Americans to advance economically. He seldom strayed from the position he took in Atlanta for the remaining twenty years of his life.
* “In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress. ” –Washington, Atlanta Exposition Address, 1895 * “The negro [sic] objects to being segregated because it usually means that he will receive inferior accommodations in return for the taxes he pays. If the negro is segregated, it will probably mean that the sewerage in his part of the city will be inferior; that the streets and sidewalks will be neglected, that the street lighting will be poor…. ” — Washington, in The New Republic, 1915 (one of his last published articles)
W. E. B. DUBOIS: * He believed that all aspects of inequality between the races should be eliminated as quickly as possible. He protested openly * “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line. “– Du Bois, “To the Nations of the World,” leaflet, 1900. * “We believe also in protest against the curtailment of our civil rights. All American citizens have the right to equal treatment in places of public accommodation according to their behavior and deserts. ” — Du Bois, explaining the principles of the Niagara Movement, Washington Bee, July 22, 1905.
**In David Levering Lewis’s biography of Du Bois he recounts a 1912 incident when Du Bois found it necessary to compromise on the issue of segregation. Du Bois planned to move into an all-white community in New York City, only to be told by the housing manager that “it would be a doubtful plan for you to settle in a community… of white people. ” It was particularly ironic since the company that built the homes Du Bois was denied access to, the Russell Sage Foundation Home Company, was part of the Russell Sage Foundation which was established to promote the welfare of African Americans and Native Americans.
Economics: At the beginning of the twentieth century, African Americans were just two generations away from the days of slavery. Poverty hounded most African Americans, and a new wave of laws and practices designed to segregate the races only made things worse. In an era of Big Capital and new industrial millionaires, the gulf between rich and poor was growing. Economic advancement became the most important measure of the success of an individual and the success of a race. On this issue Washington and Du Bois found common ground, but usually with an important difference in emphasis.
BOOKER T. WASHINGTON * “So long as the Negro is permitted to get education, acquire property, and secure employment, and is treated with respect in the business or commercial world — as is now true in the greater part in the South — I shall have the greatest faith in his working out his own destiny in our Southern States. “– Washington, The Future of the American Negro, 1899. * Booker T. Washington was a close friend of a number of the wealthiest capitalists and philanthropists of his day, such as Andrew Carnegie, the steel magnate, Julius Rosenwald, head of Sears Roebuck & Co.
, and John D. Rockefeller of Standard Oil, all of whom donated money to Washington’s school, Tuskegee Institute. * “I believe within a few years through the education of public sentiment that the name of Andrew Carnegie will be exalted as the hero of peace as much as the name of Napoleon Bonaparte as the hero of war. Mr. Carnegie has given and is giving his life and means not in devising methods of slaying men, but in devising methods of saving men…. — Washington, Address before the Fourth American Peace Conference, 1913. | | W. E. B. DUBOIS
* Du Bois, like Washington, believed that economic advancement was central to race progress in America. But he took his criticism of capitalism much farther than Washington was willing to do. * “We especially complain against the denial of equal opportunities to us in economic life: in the rural districts of the South this amounts to peonage and virtual slavery; all over the South it tends to crush labor and small business enterprises; and everywhere American prejudice, helped often by iniquitous laws, is making it more difficult for Negro-Americans to earn a decent living.
” — Du Bois, explaining the principles of the Niagara Movement, Washington Bee, July 22, 1905. * Du Bois described himself as a “Socialist of the Path” who believed the best road to economic salvation was “greater public ownership of the public wealth for the public good… ” * “… we are approaching a time when railroads, coal mines, and many factories can and ought to be run by the public for the public. ” — Du Bois, quoted in the Niagara Movement magazine, The Horizon, 1907. Biographies: BOOKER T. WASHINGTON Booker T.
Washington (1856-1915) an educator and African American leader, was born a slave on a plantation in Virginia. He spent part of his youth working in coal mines and salt furnaces in West Virginia before becoming a house servant for a former Civil War general and his wife, the leading family in Malden, West Virginia. Washington obtained an education at Hampton Institute in Virginia, and in 1881, he was selected to become principal of a new all-black industrial and normal school in Tuskegee, Alabama. Under Washington’s leadership, Tuskegee Institute became an important model of black industrial education in the South.
The school’s curriculum focused on manual training in job skills. Student labor helped build most of the campus as a way of learning practical skills from brick making to carpentry. Washington’s career as a leading spokesman for African Americans was launched with a single speech at the Atlanta Cotton States and International Exposition in 1895. This speech, often called the “Atlanta Compromise,” played down the importance of civil rights and social equality among the races in favor of economic and educational advances for African Americans.
At the time he delivered this speech, it was widely praised by both blacks and whites, although it was not long before critics of Washington’s position emerged to challenge his leadership. Early complaints about Washington’s accommodation to the white South came from the black scholar W. E. B. Du Bois and others. But until he died in 1915, Washington was the most influential black leader in America, and the most famous black celebrity in the country, an adviser to presidents and representative to European heads of state.
His autobiography Up From Slavery is still in print more than a century after it was first published. W. E. B. DU BOIS William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (1868-1963) (pronounced Du Boys) was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and was the first African American to receive a Ph. D. from Harvard University, in 1895. Du Bois became an outstanding teacher at Wilberforce and Atlanta Universities and became well known as a serious investigator of the conditions of black life in the South. He was a prolific scholar, publishing many books and articles during his long life.
Perhaps his most important book is Souls of Black Folk, first published in 1903 and still in print. This volume contained an important criticism of the leadership of Booker T. Washington. While Washington was a practical political boss willing to accommodate the realities of racism in the South, Du Bois preferred the realm of ideas and emphasized the importance of vigorous protest against racial injustice. In 1905 Du Bois and a number of black intellectuals founded the Niagara Movement to counter the leadership of Booker T.
Washington. A few years later, in 1909, Du Bois became a founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and was editor of the influential magazine published by the NAACP, The Crisis. After Booker T. Washington’s death in 1915, Du Bois wrote a remarkable obituary of his adversary, praising Washington for the good he did at Tuskegee Institute but also blaming Washington for the lack of progress the race had made under his leadership.
Du Bois eventually embraced socialism over capitalism and in the last years of his life, he was hounded by the U. S. government for his political views. He left the United States to live in Ghana, West Africa, where he became a citizen. He joined the Communist Party in 1961 when he was 93 years old. Word of his death was announced to the hundreds of thousands of persons gathered for the March on Washington in 1963.