Dubois V Washington

Topics: Black people, African American, Race and Ethnicity Pages: 14 (4613 words) Published: February 13, 2007
W. E. B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington were the two dominant Black leaders of American history during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Both men had the same goals--eradicating racism, segregation, and discrimination against their race. However, the means to achieve such ends were vastly different, thus the paradox of these Promethean figures have been revisited 100 years later as Black people seek to grapple with their ideas even in the midst of a 40-year, largely self-inflicted genocide.

As America crossed into the twenty-first century, race relations between Blacks and Whites are steadily deteriorating. How could this be? After all, we have had over 35 years of civil rights laws passed by Congress including the Voting Rights Act of 1964, 1968, the Civil Rights Act of 1965, as well as federal law mandating affirmative action programs. These programs have in part helped create the viable Black middle class we have today. Why then, in the midst of the greatest increase of Black affluence in American history, has poverty and crime exploded to such an extent in our major cities that sociologists have coined a new term to describe the intractable Black poor?--"the Underclass".

Before we attempt to answer this question, people should ask the question: How should Blacks have responded to White racism, segregation, discrimination suffered by them in the early twentieth century? And upon which philosophy should Black people have relied to help them overcome these problems? The conventional wisdom espoused by the Black elite of the liberal left would have you believe that the civil rights movement grew out of a philosophical war between Du Bois and Washington.

These two men whose diametrically opposing strategies, sought to help Blacks receive equal treatment under the law. To Black liberals, Du Bois's philosophy was said to have prevailed over Washington's as being a more feasible and effective way to combat racism. It must be noted however, that Du Bois's philosophy was born and developed not in the minds of Blacks, but by White liberals of the academy (mostly Jewish) and systematically fashioned to comply with a cultural relativist mind set then dominating most academic disciplines at that time.

The grass-roots people who are imperative to any social movement, had little to do with the origins of the modern civil rights movement. As we shall later see, this fissure between the Black elite and the common people would prove to be a devastating mistake that severely impeded the socio-economic progress of Black people in America, even until this present time.

The dichotomy between Du Bois and Washington would be that of expediency versus patience; political protest verses self-help; overt activism in the streets verses the quiet assiduousness of personal and moral development in the home; seeking redress of rights in the courts of America for better jobs, schools and educational opportunities versus seeking knowledge in the libraries of America and creating our own jobs, schools, and educational opportunities; forcing Whites to accept us as equals verses showing Whites that we can first treat each other as equals. Such were (and presently are) the choices Black America must choose.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, by choosing Du Bois (the seemingly easy choice; requiring less personal capital) Black people entered a Faustian bargain with the devil which has led them down the road of frustration and pathology. Ninety years after Du Bois and other Whites founded the NAACP in 1909, Blacks are still paying for the sins of their forefathers by following the leadership of Du Bois over that of Washington.

The civil rights movement, with its well-known lineage of civil rights groups--National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) (founded by Martin Luther King, Jr.), Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Black Urban...
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