Three Key Leaders

February 12, 2012
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Each generation looks for a new, better, and progressive idea that will lead their culture, nation or group further ahead. As the civil war drew to an end and African Americans dropped the chains, abandoned slavery they thought of what was possible for them to attain. Reconstruction started and amendments involved. Slavery was outlawed, citizenship was granted, and a say in politics by being able to vote, were granted through the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth amendments. As laws were passed so were Jim Crow laws. Segregation was the law of the land in the South and bias was the rule in the North. Prejudice was felt throughout the nation. Three African American leaders stepped up and try to advance the lifes of African Americans. The three leaders were Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois and the most influential, the one who helped African Americans the most, Marcus Garvey.
Booker T. Washington, the conservative of the three leaders was popular among whites for settling and believed industrial skills would better African Americans. “Cautious about change or innovation,” is the definition of a conservative in the New Oxford American Dictionary. Even though conservative, Washington taught African Americans to advance by the means of learning social skills/jobs. “We learn to dignify and glorify common labor… it is at the bottom of life we must begin,” (Document A) these words spoken by himself, Booker T. Washington in Atlanta GA, show how he valued hard work and believed that the African Americans must start at the bottom of the food chain. His hand analogy was one of his brightest ideas and one that was less conservative. “We can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the and in all things necessary to mutual progress,” (Document A) This was less conservative because he was talking about mutual progress if both societies work together.
When Washington was around he was beloved by many. He was particularly popular among whites for not changing, and beloved by most old African Americans because his philosophy was better than slavery. While his ideas were better than slavery, anything is better than slavery and it was not Washington that outlawed slavery it was the government. Washington a true conservative, but a good leader was not the right person for the task at hand: gaining equality both socially and politically.
DuBois the moderate of the leaders worked within the law and created organizations that helped African Americans with equality. His view was Black Socialism, which meant that African Americans would help other African Americans economically and neglect whites. An idea that he formed was the Talented Ten and NAACP, which were created with the goals of helping the African American culture. The talented ten a group formed by DuBois helped the top ten percent of African Americans by giving them a higher education, and job training so they could further the generation to come. DuBois encouraged African Americans to support this idea so the culture would be able to grow. The NAACP, an organization DuBois formed helped African Americans with legal cases involving civil rights. While moderate, after years of frustration DuBois finally became closer to radical because he realized that working within the law would not work because whites ran the legal system. This example shows that Garvey’s radical view was the correct one, because another leader in DuBois who at first did not agree came around and believed that the radical way was the only way. Double Consciousness, an idea formed by DuBois when the whites and African Americans integrated was that the African Americans should not lose who they are, by forgetting their culture and heritage. A key point that DuBois believed in was working within the law. “Build up a set of legal decisions,” (Document E) DuBois stated in a speech; this showing that African Americans can only work within the law. DuBois furthered what Washington started, but still this was not enough to gain full autonomy for African Americans.
Marcus Garvey was a radical, who believed in Black Nationalism and raising the bar of autonomy for African Americans. Garvey pushed the boundaries further than any other leader at the time because he was radical. Garvey provided autonomy for African Americans through an association he created the UNIA. The UNIA (Universal Negro Improvement Associations) created by Marcus Garvey had the goal of uplifting the Negro community. (Extra Credit) One idea that Garvey believed in was Pan-Africanism and Black Nationalism, which was the idea that African Americans should separate from whites. The extreme of separating from whites would be to move to Africa, which was an extreme Garvey supported. Garvey believed in this because if they separated from whites they would be able to preserve their heritage and culture. Garvey the radical of the group did not create as many jobs as Washington, did not create as many organizations as DuBois, but he pushed the Negro society forward in a way unlike either Washington or DuBois: GAINING FULL AUTONOMY. Garvey provided this full autonomy via his strong messages, speeches, and attitude. Radicals are imperative at any time and specifically this so they can push the boarders. To gain full rights African Americans needed a leader to push boundaries and that leader was Marcus Garvey.
Half freedom is just as good as no freedom. Washington and DuBois provided a fraction of the freedom and rights to African Americans. When Garvey came along he wanted full freedom and full rights. There was and there is no difference between whites and African Americans and that is what Garvey wanted: no difference, same rights. Garvey was the most influential African American leader of his time because of his strong views that benefited and gave pride to the Negro culture.





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