Booker T. Washington Vs. W.E.B. Du Bois
Uploaded by harina92 on Dec 06, 2011
At a time when the black community was being afforded a free status, but not one of
equality, many leaders arose to appeal to the white governing body for social equality.
The transition from the nineteenth century to the twentieth century gave birth to two of
these leaders, Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois. Although these two remarkable men
were both in search of a common goal, their roads leading to this goal were significantly
different. This is most evident in Booker T. Washington's The Atlanta Exposition Address
and W.E.B. Du Bois response to this, The Souls of Black Folk. Booker T. Washington’s gradualism stance gives him a popular appeal among both blacks and whites, although W.E.B. Du Bois has the upper hand when it came to ideology dealing with economic prosperity among blacks.
Washington favors the humble, ask nicely, appreciate what you’re given, and say thank
you approach to obtaining social equality. Washington addresses the issue with caution,
in doing so he not only comes across as an advocate of Blacks gaining “all privileges of
the law”(Up from Slavery, 457), but also of Blacks being prepared “for the exercises of
these privileges.”(457) By taking this approach Washington is gaining the appeal
within the black community as well as the white community. In contrast to this effective stance, Du Bois asks constantly with a loud and firm voice. Du Bois even goes as far as to say that if the Black community wants social equality they must simply complain. “Ceaseless agitation”( The Souls of Black Folk 563 ) he feels will do more in the fight for equality than “voluntarily throwing away”(563) the reasonable rights they are entitled to. The opposing approaches of Washington and Du Bois are far from unnoticeable, and receive recognition from both sides.
In Washington’s Atlanta Compromise Address he comments that the “wisest among my race understand that the agitation of questions of social equality is the extremist folly, and
that progress in the enjoyment of all the privileges that will come to us must be the
result of severe and constant struggle rather than of artificial forcing.”(457) This
statement, delivered at a time when blacks and whites have separate water fountains,
blacks were lynched, and the majority of blacks were illiterate, directly condemns the
blunt complaining with which Du Bois is supporting. Du Bois criticism is illustrated
in The Souls of Black Folk; “The way for...