The Strategies of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois: Uncovered

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Mikayla Ferchaw
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DBQ for Booker T. Washington vs. W.E.B. Du Bois
The Strategies of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois: Uncovered
The time period of 1877 to 1915 was a period in history when the people of the Black race were being granted a free status, but equality, on the other hand, was not an option to some higher white officials. During this time period, many leaders started to fight for what they believed in by appealing to the white governing body for social equality. Two of the leaders that came out of that uproar were the well-known Black equality activists of that time, Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois. Both of these leaders ultimately had the same goal, however, the paths that they took to achieve that goal were significantly different. Booker T. Washington had a “gradualism” stance to deal with the problems of poverty and discrimination facing Black Americans, while W.E.B. Du Bois wants Black equality immediately and does not offer any alternatives. In retrospect, Booker T. Washington’s strategy was more appropriate for the time period than that of W.E.B. Du Bois because Washington’s proposal included the whole race of Blacks along with compromises with the white population while Du Bois’s proposal only included the top ten percent of the Black race, making his philosophy inappropriate for this time period.

As a product of slavery, Booker T. Washington favors the “ask nicely” approach and appreciates what he is given since Washington has been through the tough times of being a slave. The fact that is ironic about Washington’s philosophy regarding dealing with the poverty and discrimination faced by the Black community is that he wants to cooperate and appeal to the white race as much as possible while still holding onto his thoughts about how his and his fellow race should go about living. Within the “Atlanta Compromise Address” of 1895, Booker T. Washington remarks that, “all privileges of the law be ours, but it is vastly more important that we be prepared for the exercises of these privileges” (Document D). This quote portrays Washington as an advocate of Blacks gaining social equality, but gains the appeal of the white race as well, by saying that the if the Blacks want equality and all of the rights that the white population has, they better be ready for it. A white person’s lifestyle is so much different than what a Black person is used to, which means that the Negroes might be in for a rude awakening when they finally get what they want and have been fighting for this whole time. Washington used this address in order to send a wake-up call to the Black community explaining that adapting to a different lifestyle seems easier than it is and that if the Negroes are not ready for this surge of new atmosphere and rights in their lives, they will not be able to catch on and will be behind in their adjustment into the way the whites live. The Atlanta Compromise states that Blacks would work timidly and without protest, so southern whites would not have a problem with agreeing to grant Blacks a fair trial and a standard education. Washington implied when saying, “we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress”, that he would not mind that much if blacks were segregated from whites in the work place, just as long as they get to work in the same job atmosphere (Document D). This quote explains that as long as Blacks were hired to do the same jobs that whites were hired to do; Washington was alright with segregation for now. Ultimately, Washington would like to get rid of segregation, but that is all a part of his “gradualism” approach. Booker T. Washington wanted blacks to go to trade schools in order to have them be able to master a trade. He was not looking for total Black equality immediately. Booker T. Washington’s platform was acceptable to both races because of the fact that he was not going to ask for Black...
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