Democracy and Education

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“Democracy and Education”
The most interesting argument of Booker T. Washington’s speech, “Democracy and Education” is that instead of hating the white men, Washington not only forgives them, but sympathizes with them. In his speech, Washington says, “I thank God that I have grown to the point where I can sympathize with a white man as much as I can sympathize with a black man. I have grown to the point where I can sympathize with a Southern white man as much as I can sympathize with a Northern white man.”

He points out that white men in the South are still suffering the consequences of slavery. Their homes are destitute from years of fighting in the war, their moral is low, their industrial system is ruined, and they are responsible for preparing in education, politics, and economics for millions of former slaves.

He also sympathizes with them for their lack of education. For every dollars worth of education the southern boy receives, the boy in the north receives twenty dollars worth. Boys in the South have never entered a library while the North has libraries in every town. In the South one can hear a lecture or sermon only once or twice a month, but in the north one can hear a lecture or sermon every day. Washington says that the education these men have had is insignificant. “ far as the real purpose of education is concerned–the making of men useful, honest, and liberal–this man has never been touched.” A man who appears to be well educated is “as little fitted for the highest purpose of life as any creature found in Central Africa.” What I find most interesting about Washington’s views is that he does not say that southern people are evil for wanting slavery, but rather claims that they are victims of their circumstances. He could easily take the stance that white men are the evil oppressors that want to keep the black man down. But instead he looks at things from their perspective to better understand them. When he...
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