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Booker T Washington vs WEB Dubois

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During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, unjust laws like the Jim Crow Laws which crippled the nation’s capability to permit equality between the white community and African Americans. W. E. B. Dubois and Booker T. Washington were the two premier social and political figures that doubled as writers as well, and aimed to stifle unjust laws like these. Although both of these men advocated civil rights and cultural equality, they differed in that both of them planned to accomplish these feats via the execution of two very different procedures.

Dubois’ historical piece entitled, “The Souls of Black Folk,” and Booker T. Washington’s monumental piece entitled, “The Case of the Negro” are two superb selections of the mens’ work revealing both the matters of opinion upon which the two agree, and of course, the subjects and points of view upon which they disagree. Similarities between these two African American historical figures are quite clear.

Each of these men wanted equality between the black and white communities nationally, and the stifling of discrimination and segregation amongst the two creeds. Such segregation and discrimination stemmed from the Jim Crow Laws and other governmental rules instilling ideals solidifying the inferiority of the negro. One example of the outcomes resulting from these laws is the “whites only” and colored only” signs that declared societal separation between the black and white communities.

Both early 20th century writers, Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Dubois were two individuals that advocated the African American civil rights and eventually shaped the social and political agenda of the civil rights movement. After reading “The Case of the Negro,” Washington’s belief in the notion that African American’s must accept segregation and discrimination for the time being, and focus on establishing a vocational foundation upon which the African American individual could stand on before venturing out to climb the economic and political ladders of the nation was quite candid.

His argument was that although the African American community had indeed been wronged by the white community, a swift attempt to gain political and social equality without first establishing an experienced platform was not the answer. In essence, he believed that the African American community should begin the transition to equality by embarking on the creation of an agricultural foundation in which black individuals show their capability to be responsible and successful on a vocational basis.

After an agricultural foundation is created, and education on a vocational basis is established, Washington stresses the need for teachers, ministers, doctors, and then lawyers to build the foundation of the African American community; thus, enabling the creation of an existing network to support the eventual advancement of African American figures in the political and social realms. “If this generation will lay the material foundation,” he began, “it would be the… surest way for enabling later generations to succeed… nd surround themselves with some of the luxuries of life. ”

Just as implied in this quote, it is evident that Booker T. Washington’s point of view favored the idea of steadily increasing the African American political and social experience before establishing African American political power. Essentially, he thought it was best to first prove that the African American community could handle social and political responsibility through the “development of their own business enterprises” before acquiring higher economic status.

On the contrary, Dubois felt that Washington was promoting “accommodation” and the acceptance of injustice towards the African American community. In “Souls of Black Folk,” Dubois’ response to Washington’s “The Case of the Negro” blatantly disagrees with Booker T. Washington’s strategy to achieve equality by calling it a “submission” of the black community to the white public, and an acceptance of “the alleged inferiority of the neo races. ” Dubois argued that through his “The Souls of Black Folk” piece, Washington asks that black people give up… irst, political power; Second, insistence of civil rights; [and] Third, higher education of Negro youth. ”

Subsequently, Dubois seems to argue more towards fighting for cultural equality now, and claiming the long overdue African American rights that had been denied to the black community for so long. As argued in the Niagara Movement, Dubois felt that African Americans were being wronged via the governments denying the black community equal public accommodation rights, voting rights, and educational rights; thus, he argued for immediate change.

Although Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Dubois both had significant roles of the shaping of the political and social schemes of the civil rights movement, Washington’s strategy to achieve equality better suits the early 20th century. His argument for the creation of a vocational foundation in which African Americans opted to build their repertoire of proven responsibilities before venturing out to climb the US economic ladder is more concrete and realistic as opposed to Dubois’ argument simply to fight for higher power without having first maintained a social stability in the vocational realm.

Essentially, Washington’s argument that one must ‘crawl’ before they can ‘run,’ is much more pragmatic and sensible when compared to Dubois’ wanting to just ‘run,’ especially when the time these men are talking about is during an era in which the white community was at a point where they didn’t even want to drink from the same water fountain as the black community. Essentially, the white community could not be expected to trust African American political figures if such trivial concepts still could not be grasped. Both sides needed time. Both sides needed gradual change in order to move forward socially and politically on a permanent basis.

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