By: Ryan Wolf
Segregation had been present in the United States since the early 1600’s. African Americans were feeling the brunt of this segregation during the late 19th century and early 20th century. Two men took completely different approaches as to how to deal with this unfair treatment of African Americans; Booker T. Washington, and William E.B. Du Bois. Booker T. Washington took a more gradual approach towards African American equality as Du Bois took a more immediate stance. Despite their differences, both Booker T. Washington and William E.B. Du Bois took steps to improve their fellow African Americans’ lives from 1877-1915.
Booker T. Washington thought that African American equality would come with time, and he urged his followers to be patient. He urged African Americans to get an industrial education because he, himself, was a former slave. T. Thomas Fortune points out that Washington only wanted African Americans to receive training in practical studies such as carpentry and printing at his Tuskegee Institution, because he felt that these types of skills would get them out of poverty (Doc G). This was an appropriate approach because highly skilled workers were paid more. Washington constantly tried to convince white people that black people would submit to them causing the African American lynchings to decrease at a sharper rate than that of whites (Doc C). On September 11, 1895, Washington gave his famous “Atlanta Compromise Address” in which he stressed that if whites saw the blacks as loyal and hard-workers, they would realize that they could be assets to the country (Doc D). In hope that this would give African Americans political equality, it was a risky approach that many experts could infer was not appropriate.
As opposed to Washington, DuBois relied on political rights to gain respect for African Americans. He believed that every prejudice was based on skin color and race and didn’t...