Du Bois vs. Washington

June 22, 2010
By carelyn SILVER, Granada Hills, California
carelyn SILVER, Granada Hills, California
8 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Simplicity is the keynote of true elegance."

“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.”(Martin Luther King Jr.) Booker T. Washington was born prior to the Civil War and W.E.B. Du Bois was born shortly after the end of the Civil War. The Civil War was a period in history when the country was divided over the issue of slavery. Although the Confederates surrendered and slavery was abolished, it was only the first step in working toward freedom. It was a continuous struggle over the next century, and the impact of that struggle had a definitive effect on the philosophies of the two men who became Civil Rights leaders and what their ultimate goals would become to improve the lives of those who continued to struggle for freedom and dignity. Washington stated significantly how Black folks should take their time in appreciating what they have earned within a given amount of time since the oppression of slavery. Du Bois supported immediate change in the rise of status for Black Americans through education in vocational skills. In accordance to Du Bois, a community accumulated with members of educated individuals in the basics such as literature, mathematics and science would ultimately form the basis of an equal society ideally. For the economic, political and social uplift of the Black community, the philosophy of W.E.B. Du Bois was more likely that individuals of the Black community would become sufficient members of society because of his emphasis on education which would eventually lead to equality in opportunities and economic stability.

Born as a slave in a Virginian log cabin in 1856, Booker T. Washington eventually aged to become the established founder and principal of the Tuskegee Institute, an industrious school in Alabama. Washington’s philosophy is easily described to be one of compliance to the supremacy of whiteness. He strongly advised Black folks to devotionally trust the paternalism of the Southern whites, accepting the state of oppression in white anarchy. Effectively stressing the notion of mutual interdependence between Southern Black and White individuals, Washington stated how the two races were to remain socially separate. “In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all th8ings essential to mutual progress (Washington, 3). Washington additionally counseled Black folks in remaining within the Southern border, managing their stay with lasting tactics by obtaining an education, saving their money, working with dint effort and purchasing property. Through all these, Washington undeniably believed a Black individual could earn his full rights as a citizen. By establishing a tone of dominance through the works of gradualism and conformity among the colored, Washington would later discover that his acclaimed leadership was to be passed to another.

Twelve years later, W.E.B. Du Bois was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts into a family oblivious towards the stigma of slavery for over an accumulated hundred years. Du Bois was attentively educated at the Universities of Fisk, Berlin and Harvard (where he earned his Ph.D. in History in 1895). He eventually became a professor of Economic/History at the University of Atlanta, administering a series of sociological studies on the conditions of Black folks located in the South within the same time basis when Washington began conducting his program on industrial education.

Both Washington and Du Bois aspired for the same rationality for Black folks, that being first-class citizenship, yet both established individuals used differing methods. In Washington’s case, his economic approach towards the initial interest of intermediary goals only encouraged Whites to ignore his anticipation in the integration and acceptance of Blacks in terms of the ideal American life. Through his perception, Black folks were expected to begin at the bottom and gradually work their way in achieving certain positions of power and responsibility before demanding equal citizenship. In other words, Black folks were to be temporarily assumed in a state of inferiority. “No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem” (Washington, 2). Du Bois understand Washington’s belief, yet believed his opponent’s program was not the solution to be acquired in regards to the racial problem. Du Bois believed Black individuals should not have to sacrifice their constitutional rights in reference to achieving status already guaranteed. Du Bois recognized Washington’s program to be intolerable, noting how Washington’s program lacked the determination in gaining anything for the Black race. Simultaneously, Du Bois eventually realized Washington to be of superior status, flaunting himself in a position abusing his power in order for his own advantage.

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