Two great leaders of the black community in the late 19th and 20th century were W. E. B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington. However, they sharply disagreed on strategies for black social and economic progress. Their opposing philosophies can be found in much of today’s discussions over how to end class and racial injustice, what is the role of black leadership, and what do the ‘haves’ owe the ‘have-nots’ in the black community. W. E. B. DuBois was born on February 23, 1868 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.
He died August 27, 1963 but not before he was known as a historian,professor writer, editor, sociologist and my favorite , the radicalist. Du Bois grew up in a single parent home with no father. He went to schools that had mostly white students. (This I found very intriguing because his attitude was more blacks should be equal no matter what unlike his counter part Booker T. Washington whose attitude seemed to be put whites first. ) I also learned that while many speak of Booker T.
Washington’s illegal and slick ways, Du Bois had been to prison for allowing foreigners to register. Du Bois argued that, given the opportunity to educate themselves, American blacks would emerge from behind what he referred to as their “veil” of self-conscious “differentness. “Dubois and 29 others started a movement that aided in changes for African Americans. This movement was called the Niagara movement and women were allowed to be members. Doing this time Booker T. Washington was noted for keeping the press from printing however, some articles did get out.
In 1909, after an outbreak of rioting and murders of Negroes in Springfield, Illinois, a protest meeting was held in New York that led to the formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. DuBois was one of the founding members of the organization. The NAACP was made up of of blacks and whites which tried to remove legal barriers to full citizenship for Negroes. The. The NAACP tried to prevent segregation and discrimination. Washington’s strategy would serve only to perpetuate white oppression.
Du Bois advocated political action and a civil rights agenda (he helped found the NAACP). In addition, he argued that social change could be accomplished by developing the small group of college-educated blacks he called “the Talented Tenth:” At the time, the Washington/Du Bois dispute polarized African American leaders into two wings–the ‘conservative’ supporters of Washington and his ‘radical’ critics. The Du Bois philosophy of agitation and protest for civil rights flowed directly into the Civil Rights movement which began to develop in the 1950’s and exploded in the 1960’s. Booker T.
today is associated, perhaps unfairly, with the self-help/colorblind/Republican/Clarence Thomas/Thomas Sowell wing of the black community and its leaders. The Nation of Islam and Maulana Karenga’s Afrocentrism derive too from this strand out of Booker T. ‘s philosophy. However, the latter advocated withdrawal from the mainstream in the name of economic advancement. One of WEB DuBois famous quotes is “One ever feels his two-ness,–an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.
The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife,–this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost. He does not wish to Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa; he does not wish to bleach his Negro blood in a flood of white Americanism, for he believes–foolishly, perhaps, but fervently–that Negro blood has yet a message for the world.
He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of opportunity closed roughly in his face”. p. 694-5 Booker T. (Taliaferro) Washington was born in 1856. He died inNovember 14, 1915 but, not before becoming known as an educator, reformer and and a liberalist. Washington preached about self-help, separation of the races, and accommodation.
He urged blacks to accept discrimination for the time being and concentrate on elevating themselves through hard work and material prosperity. Washington believed in education, industrial and farming skills and themes of patience, owning busineses and thrift. This, he belived, would win the respect of whites and lead to African Americans being fully accepted as citizens and integrated into all stagesof society. Washington’s thinking was one of accommodation to white oppression. He advised blacks to trust southern whites and accept the fact of white supremacy. He stressed the
interdependence of blacks and whites in the South, but said they were to remain socially separate: One of Washington’s famous quotes was “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. ” Up from slaves 1901p. Washington counseled blacks to remain in the South, obtain a useful education, save their money, work hard, and purchase property. By doing such things, Washington believed, the Negro could one day be a full fledge citizen. White Americans were happy with Washington’s ideas , and made him the national Negro leader.
Northern whites saw in Washington’s a peace formula between the races in the South. Southern whites liked the ideas because it did not involve political, civil, and social aspects, and it would consign the Negro to an inferior status. Because Washington’s program conciliated whites, substantial contributions from white philanthropists were given to Tuskegee and other institutions that adopted the Washington philosophy. Washington’s prestige grew to the point where he was regarded as the spokesman for the entire Negro community.
With strong white support, Washington became the outstanding black leader not only in the fields of education and philanthropy, but in business and labor relations, politics and all public affairs. In 1901, Washington published his carefully executed and immensely popular autobiography, Up From Slavery. This story was about Washington’s program of accommodation and self-help. It gave another boost to Washington’s career because it said what whites wanted to hear.. He advised blacks to remain in the South and avoid politics and protest in favor of economic self-help and education.
Washinton became a powerful man. He had friends like Andrew Carnegie who was an advisor of presidents. Washington publicly accepted without protest racial segregation and voting discrimination, but secretly financed and directed many court suits against such proscriptions of civil rights. He preached a gospel of Puritan morality and personal cleanliness, yet engaged in acts of sabotage and espionage against his black critics. Before whites he was a model of humility and ingratiation; to his staff and students at Tuskegee he was a fraud.
Both Washington and DuBois tended to blame Negroes themselves for their condition. They both placed emphasis on self-help and moral improvement rather than on rights. Both men placed economic advancement before universal manhood suffrage. The professor and the principal were willing to accept franchise restrictions based on education and property qualifications, but not race. Both strongly believed in racial solidarity and economic cooperation, or black nationalism. They encouraged the development of Negro business. They agreed that the black masses should receive industrial training.
DuBois thought that Washington’s accommodations program asked blacks to give up political power, insistence on civil rights, and higher education for Negro youth. He believed that Washington’s policies had directly or indirectly resulted in three trends: the disfranchisement of the Negro, the legal creation of a distinct status of civil inferiority for the Negro, and steady withdrawal of aid from institutions for the higher training of the Negro. DuBois charged that Washington’s program tacitly accepted the alleged inferiority of the Negro.
Expressing the sentiment of the radical civil rights advocates, DuBois wanted for blacksthe right to vote, civic equality, and the education of Negro youth according to ability. Generally, DuBois opposed Washington’s program because it was narrow in its scope and objectives, devalued the study of the liberal arts, and ignored civil, political, and social injustices and the economic exploitation of the black masses. Both Washington and DuBois wanted the same thing for blacks? first-class citizenship? but their methods for obtaining it differed.
Because of the interest in immediate goals contained in Washington’s economic approach, whites did not realize that he anticipated the complete acceptance and integration of Negroes into American life. He believed blacks, starting with so little, would have to begin at the bottom and work up gradually to achieve positions of power and responsibility before they could demand equal citizenship? even if it meant temporarily assuming a position of inferiority. DuBois understood Washington’s program, but believed that it was not the solution to the “race problem. ” Blacks should study the liberal arts, and have the same rights as white citizens.
Blacks, DuBois believed, should not have to sacrifice their constitutional rights in order to achieve a status that was already guaranteed. Works Cited Kirkwood, S. An Justice for All. National Parks v80 no3 (Summer 2006)p. 66-7 or http://vnweb. hwwilsonweb. com. ezproxy. memphis. edu/hww/closepop. jhtml -Wilson Du Bois, W. E. B. The “Veil” of Self-consciousness [Reprint]. Atlantic Monthly (1993) v. 297 no. 2 (March 2006) p. 55 orhttp://vnweb. hwwilsonweb. com. ezproxy. memphis. edu/hww/results/results_fulltext_maincontentframe. jhtml;jsessionid=FUXLZSBPD4J5TQA3DILSFF4ADUNGIIV0
–MacMullan, T. A. Is There a White Gift? : A Pragmatist Response to the Problem of Whiteness. Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society v. 41 no. 4 (Fall 2005) p. 796-817 ==Provenzo, E. F. Time Exposure [Exhibit of the Georgia Negro by W. E. B. Du Bois]. Educational Studies (American Educational Studies Association) v. 38 no. 2 (October 2005) p. 206-7 jack salzman editor in chief, The African American Experience. mcmillian new york 1993 Henry Louis Gates Jr. general editor, Nellis Y. McKay general editor 2nd edition The Norton AnthologyAfrican American Literature noron2004 new york