W.E.B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington and the Origins of the Civil Rights Movement
Booker T. Washington’s approach was more appropriate during the time period between 1877 and 1915 than W.E.B. Du Bois’ solution. Although Dubois’ plan would bring change faster compared to Washington’s, it was much too radical. Washington’s strategy gave more time for whites to get more comfortable with the idea of social equality among blacks. Document A, “School Enrollment by Race” poorly supports Dubois’ strategy for educating blacks. Not only were there percentages less than 5% of blacks enrolled in school, but there was a lack of teachers willing to teach black students. There was a steady increase in black students enrolled in school from 1860-1920, but it never passed the 50% mark. Although Dubois argued education will empower the black race, he also believed only ten percent of african americans were intelligent enough to cause change, “The Negro Race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men. The problem of education then, among Negroes, must first of all 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.(The Talented Tenth).” Washington believed that blacks only needed basic education in order to succeed in the workplace, “No time is wasted on dead languages or superfluous studies of any kind.(Document G). Washington trained blacks to be skilled factory workers in school,”, after delivering this speech [Atlanta Compromise 1895] black school enrollment had a drastic spike.
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Document B, “Illiteracy By Race”, effectively supports Washington’s plan for slow but definite change. from 1890 to 1910, the percentage of black people unable to read decrease from 60% to about 35% in just 20 years. This decrease in illiteracy over time would eventually allow more and more black students to attend college. Over time Booker T. Washington’s strategy for reducing discrimination in education becomes successful.
The end of the 19th century and Beginning of the 20th century Was a difficult transition period For African Americans in the US. W..E.B DuBois was born in Massachusetts, growing up DuBois lived in a predominantly white town and attended a predominantly white school. Unlike the south, Dubois’ teachers encouraged his studies as they would any other student. DuBois wasn’t aware of social inequalities in America until he went down south for college. While attending Fisk University, he became victim to Jim Crow laws, unfairness, and injustice. It was then that DuBois knew there must be a change to eliminate the social gap between whites and blacks, especially in the south. Dubois’ childhood/livelihood played a vital part in his methods, strategies, and solutions to ending poverty and discrimination faced by black Americans during this time period. Being education driven, educating seemed to be a huge part of his plans.