Booker T. Washington: Passive Activiism

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The ratification of the 14th amendment in the United States Constitution, immediately following the Civil War, was created in order to preserve the rights of all “persons born or naturalized in the United States,” which included former slaves recently freed. In addition, it forbids states from denying any person "life, liberty or property, without due process of law" or to "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Countless soldiers lost their lives battling in the Civil War in order to preserve that right for all citizens of the United States, regardless of race or social status. The South, however, sought to uphold the hierarchal racial order that had been established preceding the abolition of slavery that came as a result of losing the war. Segregation by race was important to those in power of the South in order to maintain economic growth and establish structure of superiority and inferiority in society. Not only did the racial hierarchy curtail the African Americans from seeking independence, it also kept poor-whites from aiming their discontent at the higher-class by instead focusing on the belittlement of those below them in social status. The Civil Rights, which were to be accredited equally among the states, were irrelevant in the segregated South, and African American’s were in dire need of a leader. The emergence of Booker T. Washington gave the black community a ray of hope; hope that one day they could enjoy social and economic equality despite the color of their skin.

Born a slave on a small farm in the outskirts of Virginia, Booker Taliaferro Washington grew to become the face of the Civil Rights movement for the black community (Harlen, 2004). Following the emancipation of slaves, Washington and his mother Jane moved to West Virginia (Lawson, 2011). Due to his family’s poor economic status, Washington worked in the salt furnaces at the age of nine. Toting 100-pound sacks of salt grain was no easy...
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