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Booker T. Washington Essay

1621 words - 7 pages

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome” –Booker T. Washing. Booker Taliaferro Washington was born in Hale’s Ford, Virginia on April 5th, 1856 to Jane Burroughs and an unknown White man. Washington was married three times. His first wife was Fannie N. Smith from Malden, West Virginia. Booker and Fannie were married in the summer of 1882 and had one child together named Portia M. Washington. Fannie died two years later in May 1884. The second wife was Olivia A. Davidson in 1885. Olivia was a teacher in Mississippi and Tennessee. She then worked as a school teacher in Tuskegee and that is how she met Booker ...view middle of the document...

Washington attracted the support of White philanthropists. In late 1890s he was the most prevailing African American man in the country. “Dozens of business leaders and politicians (including presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft) regularly sought his advice on race relations, southern politics, appointing Black Americans to federal jobs, and granting funds to Black institutions.” Washington formed loyal supporters African Americans and Whites as well.
Booker T. Washington and W.E.B Du Bois are similar to each other but disagree on plans for African Americans social and economic progress. “Booker T. Washington, educator, reformer and the most inflectional black leader of his time (1856-1915) preached a philosophy of self-help, racial solidarity and accommodation.” Washington encouraged African Americans to take on discrimination and focus on educating themselves through hard work and discipline. He believed that education was the answer to how African Americans can prove themselves to whites without anger and hatred. Washington believed that this would win the respect of whites and African Americans would be accepted as citizens into society. “W.E.B. Du Bois, a towering black intellectual, scholar and political thinker (1868-1963) said no--Washington's strategy would serve only to perpetuate white oppression.” Du Bois was one of the founders of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). Both the NAACP and Du Bois rejected Washington’s idea that African Americans should be in the inferior status then so that it would help improve their future. Du Bois argues that social changes can be obtained by educating a small group of college educated African Americans called “The Talented Tenth.” The Washington/Du Bois split the African American leaders into two groups ‘Conservative’ supporters and ‘Radical’ critics. “Du Bois had this to say, “So far as Mr. Washington preaches Thrift, Patience, and Industrial Training for the masses, we must hold up his hands and strive with him.... But so far as Mr. Washington apologizes for injustice, North or South, does not rightly value the privilege and duty of voting, belittles the emasculating effects of caste distinctions, and opposes the higher training and ambition of our brighter minds...we must unceasingly and firmly oppose him.” Du Bois anger spilled into the Civil Rights movement which was developed in 1950s and was challenged in the 1960s. “Like Washington, Du Bois was an educator, but of a wholly different sort; Du Bois was a university professor and the first African American to have received a doctorate from Harvard University.” Bu Bois and the NAACP list of demands included the end of the Jim Crow laws (southern segregation laws) and prejudice in the unions, equal opportunity to be educated and courts and public places. The opportunity to earn a dollar in a factory just now is worth infinitely more than the opportunity to spend a dollar in an opera house....

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