Du Bois and Booker T. Washington DBQ

7 July 2016

Although Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du bois differed in their approaches to combating racial discrimination between 1877 and 1915, both men developed unique and effective strategies designed to improve the lives of all African Americans. Booker T. Washington could be considered a complete opposition, tactic wise, to W. E. B. Du Bois. Washington preached a message of accommodation and self-help. He encouraged the black population to join schools and educate themselves in order to improve themselves (A).

He received high criticism for his ideals of accommodation, many other black reformers thought about him as an Uncle Tom for not wanting to change the conditions of the blacks sooner. But Washington believed in a patient game of chess, let the others play their pieces and when the time comes the whites will see how truly valuable and capable blacks are. Later the NAACP, largely due to Du Bois, will bash on his ideas and methods for change. This is after his Atlanta Address of 1895 where he again advocated for accommodation (D). Washington advocated a “go slow” approach to avoid a harsh white backlash.

Du Bois and Booker T. Washington DBQ Essay Example

The effect was that many youths in the South had to accept sacrifices of potential political power, civil rights and higher education. His belief was that African Americans should focus on their education and economy of their southern home. Washington valued the “industrial” education, as it provided critical skills for the jobs then available to the majority of African Americans at the time, as most lived in the South, which was overwhelmingly rural and agricultural. He thought these skills would lay the foundation for the creation of stability that the African-American community required in order to move forward.

The address mentioned many of the things blacks had accomplished for the nation, calling for whites to look at this Negro population: educated, organized, patient, faithful, law-abiding, unresentful people. 25 year-old Washington sought to improve the Negro condition, and in such ambition founded the first all-black institute, Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Alabama (G). The new school opened on July 4, 1881, initially using space in a local church. The next year, Washington purchased a former plantation, which became the permanent site of the campus.

Under his direction, his students literally built their own school: making bricks, constructing classrooms, barns and outbuildings; and growing their own crops and raising livestock; both for learning and to provide for most of the basic necessities. Both men and women had to learn trades as well as academics. Washington helped raise funds to establish and operate hundreds of small community schools and institutions of higher educations for blacks. The Tuskegee faculty used all the activities to teach the students basic skills to take back to their mostly rural black communities throughout the South.

The main goal was not to produce farmers and tradesmen, but teachers of farming and trades who taught in the new schools and colleges for blacks across the South. The schools which Washington supported were founded primarily to produce teachers, as blacks strongly supported literacy and education as the keys to their future. Graduates had often returned to their largely impoverished rural southern communities to find few schools and educational resources, as the white-dominated state legislatures consistently underfunded black schools in their segregated system.

To address those needs, Washington enlisted his philanthropic network to create matching funds programs to stimulate construction of numerous rural public schools for black children in the South. Working especially with Julius Rosenwald from Chicago, Washington had Tuskegee architects develop model school designs. This however, was not safe from criticism by the Du Bois followers and others who preferred a more “active” method of gaining influence. They believed an education would make no difference to tighten Blacks’ bonds to political freedoms, therefore leaving them without any further benefits (I).

Du Bois thoroughly advocated against Washington’s message. He found the Jim Crow (J) laws and segregation to be the outmost enraging and demanded immediate change. He did not find it acceptable to accommodate to the illiteracy rate of blacks (B), or the undeniable fact that people were being lynched just for being black (C). Du Bois was a vocal opponent to racism, and spoke strongly against lynching, discrimination in the military, and racism in education. In an effort to portray the genius and humanity of the black race, Du Bois published The Souls of Black Folk, a collection of 14 essays, in 1903.

A major theme of the work was the double consciousness that African Americans faced: Being both American and black, a unique identity which had been a handicap in the past, but could be a strength in the future. Also in this book, he disclaims Washington’s idea of accommodation, mocking its real effect. He thinks that they want to gain something by doing the exact opposite (E). In 1905, Du Bois and several other African-American civil rights activists met at Canada, near Niagara Falls. There they wrote a declaration of principles opposing the Atlanta Compromise, and incorporated as the Niagara Movement in 1906.

Du Bois and the other “Niagarites” wanted to publicize their ideals to other African Americans, but most black periodicals were owned by publishers sympathetic to Washington, so Du Bois bought a printing press and started publishing Moon Illustrated Weekly in December 1905. It was the first African-American illustrated weekly, and Du Bois used it to attack Washington’s positions, but the magazine only endured for about eight months (F). In conclusion, Booker T. Washington held an initiative of accommodation and change would happen once the Negro was self-improved.

W. E. B Du Bois gained followers, by advocating against Washington, and promoting agitation. Although these two may seem as rivals, and in some aspects they were, they both pushed the balance in the same direction, looking into change for the policies and actions taken on black people. Outline Thesis: Although Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du bois differed in their approaches to combating racial discrimination between 1877 and 1915, both men developed unique and effective strategies designed to improve the lives of all African Americans.

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