When segregation was common in the United States, two men played a significant role in the battle for equality. W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington were prominent activists who fought for civil rights but disagreed on several topics such as reconstruction, poverty, racism, and inequality. Both Washington and Du Bois fought to improve education and eliminate prejudice against black people, but their methods for doing so differed substantially (Blatty). Although these two individuals were both highly educated intellectuals who devoted their lives to the struggle of civil and human rights for African-Americans in America, the future was influenced mainly by their origins and perspectives.
Being born a slave in 1856 in Virginia, Booker T. Washington’s subsequent beliefs were motivated by his early life and schooling (Blatty, 2015). After the Civil War, he sought employment in the salt production sector while still a servant for a white household before attending the Hampton Institute, which was among America’s institutions that constituted only blacks (Blatty, 2015). In 1881, Washington got nominated by the Hampton Institute president, Samuel C. Armstrong, to lead the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Alabama. This technical institution aspired to equip African Americans with the moral guidance and practical employment skills they needed to prosper in the fast-developing Industrial Era (Blatty, 2015). Moreso, Booker T. Washington was the first to emerge as a leader, and he thought that if African Americans concentrated just on equality, they would fail to advance in society.
Booker T. Washington, in particular, promoted the ideologies of self-improvement, cultural harmony, and conciliation. He further advised Negros to put up with injustice temporarily and focus on bettering themselves via hard labor and financial success. Booker T. also had faith in developing virtues such as; patience, initiative, thrift, and training in artisanship and agriculture. In addition, Booker T. Washington believed that by doing so, African Americans had a chance to earn respect as residents and also get absorbed into all elements of society by the white people. In 1895, he gave these significant elements in his speech to a congregation of different races at Cotton State and International Exhibition, currently the Piedmont Park in Atlanta (Blatty, 2015). Moreover, black individuals who strongly trusted the reasoning in the practice of Washington’s strategies accepted his ideas warmly, both in the U.S. and internationally, as well as the Caucasians. The latter was happy to push any genuine debate of equality and rights for African Americans until later (Blatty, 2015). However, it was dubbed as “Atlanta Compromise” by its detractors, including Du Bois.
For years, Washington advocated for the industrial training of black males, believing that it would help the race get a good start for them. Washington was also a founding member of the National Negro Business League created in 1900 and served as its first president (Blatty). Furthermore, he announced the organization’s primary objective as; bringing African Americans who were conducting business in various branches together to encourage, inform, and inspire each other. Additionally, he gave Black Cambridge youngsters some practical advice in 1903, advising them to learn to stay out of debt and hoping they would have the courage not to persuade their parents to buy items they could not afford (Blatty). Because young African American men’s job prospects were restricted at the time, Washington counseled them to make up their minds to engage in business and start something, and the success would be theirs. What is more, Washington saw hope for the future in the young African American faces, and he thought they would be put on the road to independence by saving regularly and purchasing properties (Blatty).
On the other hand, W.E.B. Du Bois released The Souls of Black Folk in 1903, and it was the most prominent critique of Booker T. Washington’s theories (Blatty). According to Du Bois, Washington’s strategy was inept, and he was going about it improperly. Furthermore, Du Bois believed that Washington’s approach would only serve to promote and strengthen white oppression. Also, Du Bois believed that blacks and whites could have the same educational opportunities and political privileges, unlike Washington’s ideals. Furthermore, Du Bois contended that whereas Washington valued common-school and industrial training and loathed higher education, neither the Black common-schools nor Tuskegee could survive a day without teachers from Negro colleges and universities or alumni (Du Bois 56).
In addition, Du Bois believed that Washington was working valiantly to turn Negro artisans into entrepreneurs and property owners. However, business persons and landowners couldn’t protect their freedom and prosper in the absence of their ability to vote under competitive tactics that existed (Du Bois 56). Furthermore, Du Bois stated that Washington preached economy and self-respect. Still, he also advised a passive surrender to civic humiliation, which would sure drain any race’s masculinity in the long term (Du Bois 56). Du Bois further stated that people do not gain their reasonable rights by tossing them away and claiming they do not want them or constantly criticizing and degrading themselves. He instead insisted that Negroes must stress that voting is a current civilization’s necessity, that discrimination based on race is barbarism, and that both black and white boys deserve education (Du Bois 59). Furthermore, Du Bois claimed that Washington’s ideology caused the whites to blame the Negro problem on the shoulders of the Negros, when the burden rested on the state, and no one had clean hands if they did not devote their energies to correcting those great wrongdoings. (Du Bois 62)
Which Authors Views remind you of Benjamin Franklin’s and why?
The authors’ views of “Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass” remind me of Benjamin Franklin. According to Benjamin Franklin’s official biography, he was a philosopher, scientist, innovator, renowned writer, publisher, and diplomat and was one of the founding fathers of the United States (Lewis). Furthermore, Benjamin Franklin acquired competence in each sector he engaged in because he pursued his passion in all he did. On the other hand, Frederick Douglass was among the most influential personalities in the anti-slavery and civil rights movements of the nineteenth century. There is no more significant explanation than self-made persons, for both Benjamin Franklin and Frederick Douglass. These two great, clever, and driven men were born in two separate times, but they have a lot in common while still being quite different. America’s future was greatly influenced by the hard work of these two men, and individuals tend to admire them for their determination to make the world a better place.
Apart from their great devotion to liberty, these figures from American history are frequently seen as defenders of core American ideals, like; transparency, individuality, entrepreneurship, straightforwardness, self-reliance, and integrity. Escape from repressive conditions was a turning moment in Franklin’s and Douglass’ lives, resulting in political and social involvement. For example, after Douglass made his escape from slavery, he began reading the Liberator and began attending anti-slavery conventions, such as the August 1842 anti-slavery convention, which was at Nantucket (Douglass 100). On the other hand, Franklin moved to Philadelphia, where he founded “The Junto,” a philosophical discussion group, after having trouble finding work in New York (Lewis). Though both men did not come from wealthy families, Frederick Douglass certainly had a much harder life than Franklin.
Both Franklin and Douglas understood the importance of hard work and self-motivation in achieving a brighter future, and they discovered that education was also a valuable tool in life. For instance, Douglass realized the road from enslavement to liberation was through education after Mr. Auld forbade Mrs. Auld from educating him further, as he would not be useful to his master once he became educated (Douglass 29). In addition, both men educated themselves despite the challenging situations they faced. For instance, Douglass had to teach himself how to write when he was in Durgin and Bailey’s shipyard by copying the letters that carpenters were inscribing on the ships (Douglass 37). Similarly, Franklin spends much of his young adulthood in London, learning about the printing trade (Lewis). Additionally, Douglass utilized education to rise above the dirt he was raised in, and Benjamin used education to achieve success.
In conclusion, both Washington and Du Bois fought to improve education and eliminate prejudice against black people, but their methods differed substantially. More so, W.E.B. Du Bois Booker and T. Washington disagreed on several topics such as reconstruction, poverty, racism, and inequality. Moreover, Booker T. Washington advocated for the ideology of self-help, racial unity, accommodation and encouraged blacks to put up with discrimination and focus on improving themselves via hard labor and acquiring material wealth. On the other hand, Du Bois believed that Washington’s approach would only promote and strengthen white oppression. Furthermore, Du Bois also believed that blacks and whites could have the same educational opportunities and political privileges. Finally, both Benjamin Franklin and Frederick Douglass were self-made and ambitious guys born in two different eras but shared many similarities and were determined to make the world a better place. Moreover, Franklin and Douglas understood the importance of hard work and self-motivation in achieving a brighter future, and they discovered that education was also a valuable tool in life. What is more, escape from repressive conditions was a turning moment in both Franklin’s and Douglass’ lives, resulting in political and social involvement.
Blatty, David. “W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington Had Clashing Ideologies During the Civil Rights Movement.” Biography, 23 Feb. 2015, www.biography.com/news/web-dubois-vs-booker-t-washington.
Douglass, Fredrick. “Narrative of The Life of Fredrick Douglass, An American Slave.” The Public’s Library and Digital Archive, 1845, www.ibiblio.org/ebooks/Douglass/Narrative/Douglass_Narrative.pdf.
Du Bois, W. E. B. “The souls of black folk.” W.E.B. Du Bois: Writings (1986): 357-547.
Lewis, Rachel. “Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia | Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (The).” Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia |, 2021, philadelphiaencyclopedia.org/archive/autobiography-of-benjamin-franklin-the/.