FOR WRITING ASSIGNMENT ON
WASHINGTON AND W. E. B. DU BOIS
assignment is not to write an essay. Instead, it is a set of five questions
regarding Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois in which you will compare the
two men and the solutions they offered for the difficulties faced by African
Americans at the time. You are to type out the five questions listed at the
bottom of this page, numbering each one and giving your answer to it.
main source for this assignment is Up From
Slavery by Booker T. Washington. In addition to it, I have provided you
with several articles and excerpts as resources. In addition to Up From Slavery, you must also use and
cite “Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others,” which is the title of chapter three
of The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B.
Du Bois; and “The Talented Tenth,” a brief article also by Du Bois. In the
following pages you will find these writings by Du Bois along with three other
articles that will be helpful to you.
must give (cite) the source of your information, whether quoting or putting it
in your own words. For the book, give the page number where you found the
information. For the article titled “Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others,”
which is a chapter in Du Bois’s book, The
Souls of Black Folk, the word “Souls”
plus the paragraph number (listed in the upper right-hand corner of each
paragraph) will suffice.
all information in parentheses
immediately after giving the information. For example:
Washington gained insights on race relations from
working with Indian boys at Hampton (Washington, 87).
cite material from Up From Slavery
(quoted or paraphrased), use the model given above.
cite material from “Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others,” which is chapter
three of The Souls of Black Folk, use the following model:
Du Bois states that by the 1830s the South as whole
was slave country (Souls, chap. 3,
cite material from Du Bois’s article, “The Talented Tenth,” use the following
Du Bois argued that the race’s “exceptional men”
would save African Americans (“Talented Tenth”).
Note that because “The Talented Tenth” is a brief
article, it is not necessary to give the page number(s).
cite material from the one-page Du Bois biography, use the following model:
Du Bois believed that the white children at his
school regarded him as inferior to them (Du Bois bio.)
Note that because the Du Bois biography is a brief
article, it is not necessary to give the page number(s).
cite material from the Britannica article, use the following model:
Du Bois received a doctorate from Harvard
University (Britannica article).
that because the Britannica article is brief, it is not necessary to give a
will take at least two or three paragraphs to fully answer each
question. Your submission should be between four and eight pages, printed and
double-spaced. The information should be specific, not generalizations.
- Compare how Booker T.
Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois were raised. What kind of education did
they have? Did these things affect their view of the world and if so, how?
- What was the name of
the institution that Washington headed in Alabama? What kind of education
did it offer African Americans, and why?
- What was Washington’s
Atlanta Exposition Address?
- How did Du Bois
disagree with Washington over the education of African Americans? What
kind of education for them did Du Bois advocate?
- Besides the education
of African Americans, over what other issues did Du Bois and Washington
for Writing Assignment on Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois
the following as a model to get started on your assignment:
106.[Section number], Spring 2013
name] [Date submitted]
Writing Assignment on
Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois
- Compare how Booker T. Washington and W.
E. B. Du Bois were raised. What kind of education did they have? Did these
things affect their view of the world and if so, how?
Washington was born a slave in the South and Du
Bois was born free in the North (Washington, 7; Du Bois bio).
of the information came from Washington’s book and some of it from the Du Bois
biographical sketch, which is why I cited both sources.]
PRECEDING IS AN EXAMPLE. DO NOT COPY MY ANSWER.
WRITE COMPLETE SENTENCES WITH A SUBJECT AND A VERB.
DO NOT USE CONTRACTIONS.
DO NOT USE CASUAL LANGUAGE. REFER TO WASHINGTON AS “WASHINGTON,” NOT
“BOOKER” OR “BOOKER T.”
W.E.B Du Bois
[If you quote or
cite from the following indicate it by inserting “(Du Bois Bio)” after the
material. Since it is a brief article no page number is necessary.]
W.E.B. Du Bois
was born on February 23, 1868, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. He was one
of twenty-five to fifty African American residents out of a population of about
5,000 in the town. Although he saw few outward signs of racism, as a child Du
Bois suffered discrimination at the hands of white children who treated him as
inferior because of his color. As a result, his outgoing personality became
sullen and introspective.
While in high
school Du Bois showed a keen concern for the development of his race. At age
fifteen he became the local correspondent for the New York Globe. He conceived it his duty to push his race
forward by lectures and editorials on the need for Black people to use the
political system to advance their position in American society.
gifted, Du Bois stood out academically from took his fellow students. He hoped
to attend Harvard University after graduating from high school, but could not
afford the tuition. However, he was awarded a scholarship to Fisk College (now
University), an African-American institution in Nashville, Tennessee.
His three years
at Fisk, 1885-1888, exposed Du Bois to the depth of the race problem in this
country. He became more determined than before to speed up the development of
Du Bois spent two
summers teaching at a school where learned more about the South and his people.
He saw their poverty and the prejudice they endured, but he also saw their
desire for knowledge.
from Fisk Du Bois received scholarships that allowed him to at last enter
Harvard. The attainment of this long-sought goal did not give him satisfaction.
Years later he commented, “I was in Harvard but not of it,” suggesting that he
continued to deeply resent any sign of condescension. He focused on the study
of philosophy and history, and after receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1890
continued at Harvard where eventually he would earn a master’s and a doctor’s
his master’s degree in the spring of 1891, Du Bois read that former president
Rutherford B. Hayes was heading a fund program to educate Negroes, but had been
quoted by a newspaper as saying that no suitable candidate had been found to
undertake advanced study in another country. Du Bois applied for the grant and
complained to Hayes for his statement. Hayes replied that he had been
misquoted. Du Bois received the grant and used it to study at the University of
Berlin, among the best universities in the world.
In Berlin, Du
Bois came to believe that the race problem for Africans was not limited to one
country or continent. His studies there increasingly turned toward social research.
Du Bois returned
to Harvard to complete his Ph. D. degree. His doctoral dissertation, The
Suppression of the African Slave Trade in America, is considered a classic
work of history and continues to be studied by scholars.
Article on W.E.B. Du Bois
you cite or quote from this article do so in this format: (Britannica article).
No page number is necessary.
Feb. 23, 1868, Great Barrington, Mass.
Aug. 27, 1963, Accra, Ghana.
sociologist, the most important black protest leader in the United States
during the first half of the 20th century. He shared in the creation of the
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909 and
edited The Crisis, its magazine, from
1910 to 1934. Late in life he became identified with Communist causes.
Bois was graduated from Fisk University, a black institution at Nashville,
Tenn., in 1888. He received a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1895. His
doctoral dissertation, The Suppression of
the African Slave-Trade to the United States of America, 1638-1870, was
published in 1896. Although Du Bois took an advanced degree in history, he was
broadly trained in the social sciences; and at a time when sociologists were
theorizing about race relations, he was conducting empirical inquiries into the
condition of blacks. For more than a decade he devoted himself to sociological
investigations of blacks in America, producing 16 research monographs published
between 1897 and 1914 at Atlanta (Ga.) University, where he was a professor, as
well as The Philadelphia Negro; A Social
Study (1899), the first case study of a black community in the United
States. Although Du Bois had originally believed that social science could
provide the knowledge to solve the race problem, he gradually came to the
conclusion that in a climate of virulent racism, expressed in such evils as
lynching, peonage, disfranchisement, Jim Crow segregation laws, and race riots,
social change could be accomplished only through agitation and protest. In this
view, he clashed with the most influential black leader of the period, Booker
T. Washington, who, preaching a philosophy of accommodation, urged blacks to
accept discrimination for the time being and elevate themselves through hard
work and economic gain, thus winning the respect of the whites. In 1903, in his
famous book The Souls of Black Folk,
Du Bois charged that Washington's strategy, rather than freeing the black man
from oppression, would serve only to perpetuate it. This attack crystallized the
opposition to Booker T. Washington among many black intellectuals, polarizing
the leaders of the black community into two wings--the "conservative"
supporters of Washington and his "radical" critics. Two years later,
in 1905, Du Bois took the lead in founding the Niagara Movement, which was
dedicated chiefly to attacking the platform of Booker T. Washington. The small
organization, which met annually until 1909, was seriously weakened by internal
squabbles and Washington's opposition. But it was significant as an ideological
forerunner and direct inspiration for the interracial NAACP, founded in 1909.
Du Bois played a prominent part in the creation of the NAACP and became the
association's director of research and editor of its magazine, The Crisis. In this role he wielded an
unequaled influence among middle-class blacks and progressive whites as the
propagandist for the black protest from 1910 until 1934.Both in the Niagara
Movement and in the NAACP, Du Bois acted mainly as an integrationist, but his
thinking always exhibited, to varying degrees, separatist-nationalist
tendencies. In The Souls of Black Folk he
had expressed the characteristic dualism of black Americans: One ever feels his
twoness--an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled
strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone
keeps it from being torn asunder. . . . He simply wishes to make it possible
for a man to be both a Negro and an American, without being cursed and spit
upon by his fellows, without having the doors of Opportunity closed roughly in
© 1994-2000 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of
Black Folk (1903), Chapter III:
Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others
Instructions: Each paragraph is numbered. Follow this format: (Souls, chap. 3, para. 1).
From birth till
death enslaved; in word, in deed, unmanned!
. . . . . . . .
Hereditary bondsmen! Know ye
Who would be free themselves
must strike the blow?
EASILY the most striking thing in the history of the American
Negro since 1876 is the ascendancy of Mr. Booker T. Washington. It began at
the time when war memories and ideals were rapidly passing; a day of
astonishing commercial development was dawning; a sense of doubt and
hesitation overtook the freedmen’s sons,—then it was that his leading began.
Mr. Washington came, with a simple definite programme, at the psychological
moment when the nation was a little ashamed of having bestowed so much
sentiment on Negroes, and was concentrating its energies on Dollars. His
programme of industrial education, conciliation of the South, and submission
and silence as to civil and political rights, was not wholly original; the
Free Negroes from 1830 up to wartime had striven to build industrial schools,
and the American Missionary Association had from the first taught various
trades; and Price and others had sought a way of honorable alliance with the best
of the Southerners. But Mr. Washington first indissolubly linked these
things; he put enthusiasm, unlimited energy, and perfect faith into this
programme, and changed it from a by-path into a veritable Way of Life. And
the tale of the methods by which he did this is a fascinating study of human
It startled the nation to hear a Negro advocating such a
programme after many decades of bitter complaint; it startled and won the
applause of the South, it interested and won the admiration of the North; and
after a confused murmur of protest, it silenced if it did not convert the
To gain the sympathy and coöperation of the various elements
comprising the white South was Mr. Washington’s first task; and this, at the
time Tuskegee was founded, seemed, for a black man, well-nigh impossible. And
yet ten years later it was done in the word spoken at Atlanta: “In all things
purely social we can be as separate as the five fingers, and yet one as the
hand in all things essential to mutual progress.” This “Atlanta Compromise”
is by all odds the most notable thing in Mr. Washington’s career. The South
interpreted it in different ways: the radicals received it as a complete
surrender of the demand for civil and political equality; the conservatives,
as a generously conceived working basis for mutual understanding. So both
approved it, and to-day its author is certainly the most distinguished
Southerner since Jefferson Davis, and the one with the largest personal
Next to this achievement comes Mr. Washington’s work in gaining
place and consideration in the North. Others less shrewd and tactful had
formerly essayed to sit on these two stools and had fallen between them; but
as Mr. Washington knew the heart of the South from birth and training, so by
singular insight he intuitively grasped the spirit of the age which was
dominating the North. And so thoroughly did he learn the speech and thought
of triumphant commercialism, and the ideals of material prosperity, that the picture
of a lone black boy poring over a French grammar amid the weeds and dirt of a
neglected home soon seemed to him the acme of absurdities. One wonders what
Socrates and St. Francis of Assisi would say to this.
And yet this very singleness of vision and thorough oneness with
his age is a mark of the successful man. It is as though Nature must needs
make men narrow in order to give them force. So Mr. Washington’s cult has
gained unquestioning followers, his work has wonderfully prospered, his friends
are legion, and his enemies are confounded. To-day he stands as the one
recognized spokesman of his ten million fellows, and one of the most notable
figures in a nation of seventy millions. One hesitates, therefore, to
criticise a life which, beginning with so little, has done so much. And yet
the time is come when one may speak in all sincerity and utter courtesy of
the mistakes and shortcomings of Mr. Washington’s career, as well as of his
triumphs, without being thought captious or envious, and without forgetting
that it is easier to do ill than well in the world.
The criticism that has hitherto met Mr. Washington has not
always been of this broad character. In the South especially has he had to
walk warily to avoid the harshest judgments,—and naturally so, for he is
dealing with the one subject of deepest sensitiveness to that section.
Twice—once when at the Chicago celebration of the Spanish-American War he
alluded to the color-prejudice that is “eating away the vitals of the South,”
and once when he dined with President Roosevelt—has the resulting Southern
criticism been violent enough to threaten seriously his popularity. In the
North the feeling has several times forced itself into words, that Mr.
Washington’s counsels of submission overlooked certain elements of true
manhood, and that his educational programme was unnecessarily narrow.
Usually, however, such criticism has not found open expression, although,
too, the spiritual sons of the Abolitionists have not been prepared to
acknowledge that the schools founded before Tuskegee, by men of broad ideals
and self-sacrificing spirit, were wholly failures or worthy of ridicule.
While, then, criticism has not failed to follow Mr. Washington, yet the
prevailing public opinion of the land has been but too willing to deliver the
solution of a wearisome problem into his hands, and say, “If that is all you
and your race ask, take it.”
Among his own people, however, Mr. Washington has encountered
the strongest and most lasting opposition, amounting at times to bitterness,
and even to-day continuing strong and insistent even though largely silenced
in outward expression by the public opinion of the nation. Some of this
opposition is, of course, mere envy; the disappointment of displaced
demagogues and the spite of narrow minds. But aside from this, there is among
educated and thoughtful colored men in all parts of the land a feeling of
deep regret, sorrow, and apprehension at the wide currency and ascendancy
which some of Mr. Washington’s theories have gained. These same men admire
his sincerity of purpose, and are willing to forgive much to honest endeavor
which is doing something worth the doing. They coöperate with Mr. Washington
as far as they conscientiously can; and, indeed, it is no ordinary tribute to
this man’s tact and power that, steering as he must between so many diverse
interests and opinions, he so largely retains the respect of all.
But the hushing of the criticism of honest opponents is a
dangerous thing. It leads some of the best of the critics to unfortunate
silence and paralysis of effort, and others to burst into speech so
passionately and intemperately as to lose listeners. Honest and earnest
criticism from those whose interests are most nearly touched,—criticism of
writers by readers, of government by those governed, of leaders by those
led,—this is the soul of democracy and the safeguard of modern society. If
the best of the American Negroes receive by outer pressure a leader whom they
had not recognized before, manifestly there is here a certain palpable gain.
Yet there is also irreparable loss,—a loss of that peculiarly valuable
education which a group receives when by search and criticism it finds and
commissions its own leaders. The way in which this is done is at once the
most elementary and the nicest problem of social growth. History is but the
record of such group-leadership; and yet how infinitely changeful is its type
and character! And of all types and kinds, what can be more instructive than
the leadership of a group within a group?—that curious double movement where
real progress may be negative and actual advance be relative retrogression.
All this is the social student’s inspiration and despair.
Now in the past the American Negro has had instructive experience
in the choosing of group leaders, founding thus a peculiar dynasty which in
the light of present conditions is worth while studying. When sticks and
stones and beasts form the sole environment of a people, their attitude is
largely one of determined opposition to and conquest of natural forces. But
when to earth and brute is added an environment of men and ideas, then the
attitude of the imprisoned group may take three main forms,—a feeling of
revolt and revenge; an attempt to adjust all thought and action to the will
of the greater group; or, finally, a determined effort at self-realization
and self-development despite environing opinion. The influence of all of
these attitudes at various times can be traced in the history of the American
Negro, and in the evolution of his successive leaders.
Before 1750, while the fire of African freedom still burned in
the veins of the slaves, there was in all leadership or attempted leadership
but the one motive of revolt and revenge,—typified in the terrible Maroons,
the Danish blacks, and Cato of Stono, and veiling all the Americas in fear of
insurrection. The liberalizing tendencies of the latter half of the
eighteenth century brought, along with kindlier relations between black and
white, thoughts of ultimate adjustment and assimilation. Such aspiration was
especially voiced in the earnest songs of Phyllis, in the martyrdom of
Attucks, the fighting of Salem and Poor, the intellectual accomplishments of
Banneker and Derham, and the political demands of the Cuffes.
Stern financial and social stress after the war cooled much of
the previous humanitarian ardor. The disappointment and impatience of the
Negroes at the persistence of slavery and serfdom voiced itself in two
movements. The slaves in the South, aroused undoubtedly by vague rumors of
the Haytian revolt, made three fierce attempts at insurrection,—in 1800 under
Gabriel in Virginia, in 1822 under Vesey in Carolina, and in 1831 again in
Virginia under the terrible Nat Turner. In the Free States, on the other
hand, a new and curious attempt at self-development was made. In Philadelphia
and New York color-prescription led to a withdrawal of Negro communicants
from white churches and the formation of a peculiar socio-religious
institution among the Negroes known as the African Church,—an organization
still living and controlling in its various branches over a million of men.
Walker’s wild appeal against the trend of the times showed how
the world was changing after the coming of the cotton-gin. By 1830 slavery
seemed hopelessly fastened on the South, and the slaves thoroughly cowed into
submission. The free Negroes of the North, inspired by the mulatto immigrants
from the West Indies, began to change the basis of their demands; they
recognized the slavery of slaves, but insisted that they themselves were
freemen, and sought assimilation and amalgamation with the nation on the same
terms with other men. Thus, Forten and Purvis of Philadelphia, Shad of
Wilmington, Du Bois of New Haven, Barbadoes of Boston, and others, strove
singly and together as men, they said, not as slaves; as “people of color,”
not as “Negroes.” The trend of the times, however, refused them recognition
save in individual and exceptional cases, considered them as one with all the
despised blacks, and they soon found themselves striving to keep even the
rights they formerly had of voting and working and moving as freemen. Schemes
of migration and colonization arose among them; but these they refused to
entertain, and they eventually turned to the Abolition movement as a final
Here, led by Remond, Nell, Wells-Brown, and Douglass, a new
period of self-assertion and self-development dawned. To be sure, ultimate
freedom and assimilation was the ideal before the leaders, but the assertion
of the manhood rights of the Negro by himself was the main reliance, and John
Brown’s raid was the extreme of its logic. After the war and emancipation,
the great form of Frederick Douglass, the greatest of American Negro leaders,
still led the host. Self-assertion, especially in political lines, was the
main programme, and behind Douglass came Elliot, Bruce, and Langston, and the
Reconstruction politicians, and, less conspicuous but of greater social
significance Alexander Crummell and Bishop Daniel Payne.
Then came the Revolution of 1876, the suppression of the Negro
votes, the changing and shifting of ideals, and the seeking of new lights in
the great night. Douglass, in his old age, still bravely stood for the ideals
of his early manhood,—ultimate assimilation through self-assertion,
and on no other terms. For a time Price arose as a new leader, destined, it
seemed, not to give up, but to re-state the old ideals in a form less
repugnant to the white South. But he passed away in his prime. Then came the
new leader. Nearly all the former ones had become leaders by the silent
suffrage of their fellows, had sought to lead their own people alone, and
were usually, save Douglass, little known outside their race. But Booker T.
Washington arose as essentially the leader not of one race but of two,—a
compromiser between the South, the North, and the Negro. Naturally the
Negroes resented, at first bitterly, signs of compromise which surrendered
their civil and political rights, even though this was to be exchanged for
larger chances of economic development. The rich and dominating North,
however, was not only weary of the race problem, but was investing largely in
Southern enterprises, and welcomed any method of peaceful coöperation. Thus,
by national opinion, the Negroes began to recognize Mr. Washington’s
leadership; and the voice of criticism was hushed.
Mr. Washington represents in Negro thought the old attitude of
adjustment and submission; but adjustment at such a peculiar time as to make
his programme unique. This is an age of unusual economic development, and Mr.
Washington’s programme naturally takes an economic cast, becoming a gospel of
Work and Money to such an extent as apparently almost completely to
overshadow the higher aims of life. Moreover, this is an age when the more
advanced races are coming in closer contact with the less developed races,
and the race-feeling is therefore intensified; and Mr. Washington’s programme
practically accepts the alleged inferiority of the Negro races. Again, in our
own land, the reaction from the sentiment of war time has given impetus to
race-prejudice against Negroes, and Mr. Washington withdraws many of the high
demands of Negroes as men and American citizens. In other periods of intensified
prejudice all the Negro’s tendency to self-assertion has been called forth;
at this period a policy of submission is advocated. In the history of nearly
all other races and peoples the doctrine preached at such crises has been
that manly self-respect is worth more than lands and houses, and that a
people who voluntarily surrender such respect, or cease striving for it, are
not worth civilizing.
In answer to this, it has been claimed that the Negro can
survive only through submission. Mr. Washington distinctly asks that black
people give up, at least for the present, three things,—
First, political power,
Second, insistence on civil
Third, higher education of
and concentrate all their energies on industrial education, the accumulation
of wealth, and the conciliation of the South. This policy has been
courageously and insistently advocated for over fifteen years, and has been
triumphant for perhaps ten years. As a result of this tender of the palm-branch,
what has been the return? In these years there have occurred:
disfranchisement of the Negro.
- The legal creation
of a distinct status of civil inferiority for the Negro.
- The steady
withdrawal of aid from institutions for the higher training of the
These movements are not, to be sure, direct results of Mr.
Washington’s teachings; but his propaganda has, without a shadow of doubt,
helped their speedier accomplishment. The question then comes: Is it
possible, and probable, that nine millions of men can make effective progress
in economic lines if they are deprived of political rights, made a servile
caste, and allowed only the most meagre chance for developing their
exceptional men? If history and reason give any distinct answer to these questions,
it is an emphatic No. And Mr. Washington thus faces the triple paradox
of his career:
- He is striving
nobly to make Negro artisans business men and property-owners; but it is
utterly impossible, under modern competitive methods, for workingmen and
property-owners to defend their rights and exist without the right of
- He insists on
thrift and self-respect, but at the same time counsels a silent
submission to civic inferiority such as is bound to sap the manhood of
any race in the long run.
- He advocates
common-school and industrial training, and depreciates institutions of
higher learning; but neither the Negro common-schools, nor Tuskegee
itself, could remain open a day were it not for teachers trained in
Negro colleges, or trained by their graduates.
This triple paradox in Mr. Washington’s position is the object
of criticism by two classes of colored Americans. One class is spiritually
descended from Toussaint the Savior, through Gabriel, Vesey, and Turner, and
they represent the attitude of revolt and revenge; they hate the white South
blindly and distrust the white race generally, and so far as they agree on
definite action, think that the Negro’s only hope lies in emigration beyond
the borders of the United States. And yet, by the irony of fate, nothing has
more effectually made this programme seem hopeless than the recent course of
the United States toward weaker and darker peoples in the West Indies,
Hawaii, and the Philippines,—for where in the world may we go and be safe
from lying and brute force?
The other class of Negroes who cannot agree with Mr. Washington
has hitherto said little aloud. They deprecate the sight of scattered
counsels, of internal disagreement; and especially they dislike making their
just criticism of a useful and earnest man an excuse for a general discharge
of venom from small-minded opponents. Nevertheless, the questions involved
are so fundamental and serious that it is difficult to see how men like the
Grimkes, Kelly Miller, J. W. E. Bowen, and other representatives of this
group, can much longer be silent. Such men feel in conscience bound to ask of
this nation three things:
- The right to vote.
- Civic equality.
- The education of
youth according to ability.
They acknowledge Mr. Washington’s invaluable service in
counselling patience and courtesy in such demands; they do not ask that
ignorant black men vote when ignorant whites are debarred, or that any
reasonable restrictions in the suffrage should not be applied; they know that
the low social level of the mass of the race is responsible for much
discrimination against it, but they also know, and the nation knows, that
relentless color-prejudice is more often a cause than a result of the Negro’s
degradation; they seek the abatement of this relic of barbarism, and not its
systematic encouragement and pampering by all agencies of social power from
the Associated Press to the Church of Christ. They advocate, with Mr.
Washington, a broad system of Negro common schools supplemented by thorough
industrial training; but they are surprised that a man of Mr. Washington’s
insight cannot see that no such educational system ever has rested or can
rest on any other basis than that of the well-equipped college and
university, and they insist that there is a demand for a few such
institutions throughout the South to train the best of the Negro youth as
teachers, professional men, and leaders.
This group of men honor Mr. Washington for his attitude of
conciliation toward the white South; they accept the “Atlanta Compromise” in
its broadest interpretation; they recognize, with him, many signs of promise,
many men of high purpose and fair judgment, in this section; they know that
no easy task has been laid upon a region already tottering under heavy
burdens. But, nevertheless, they insist that the way to truth and right lies
in straightforward honesty, not in indiscriminate flattery; in praising those
of the South who do well and criticising uncompromisingly those who do ill;
in taking advantage of the opportunities at hand and urging their fellows to
do the same, but at the same time in remembering that only a firm adherence
to their higher ideals and aspirations will ever keep those ideals within the
realm of possibility. They do not expect that the free right to vote, to
enjoy civic rights, and to be educated, will come in a moment; they do not
expect to see the bias and prejudices of years disappear at the blast of a
trumpet; but they are absolutely certain that the way for a people to gain
their reasonable rights is not by voluntarily throwing them away and
insisting that they do not want them; that the way for a people to gain
respect is not by continually belittling and ridiculing themselves; that, on
the contrary, Negroes must insist continually, in season and out of season,
that voting is necessary to modern manhood, that color discrimination is
barbarism, and that black boys need education as well as white boys.
In failing thus to state plainly and unequivocally the
legitimate demands of their people, even at the cost of opposing an honored
leader, the thinking classes of American Negroes would shirk a heavy
responsibility,—a responsibility to themselves, a responsibility to the
struggling masses, a responsibility to the darker races of men whose future
depends so largely on this American experiment, but especially a
responsibility to this nation,—this common Fatherland. It is wrong to
encourage a man or a people in evil-doing; it is wrong to aid and abet a
national crime simply because it is unpopular not to do so. The growing
spirit of kindliness and reconciliation between the North and South after the
frightful differences of a generation ago ought to be a source of deep
congratulation to all, and especially to those whose mistreatment caused the
war; but if that reconciliation is to be marked by the industrial slavery and
civic death of those same black men, with permanent legislation into a
position of inferiority, then those black men, if they are really men, are
called upon by every consideration of patriotism and loyalty to oppose such a
course by all civilized methods, even though such opposition involves
disagreement with Mr. Booker T. Washington. We have no right to sit silently
by while the inevitable seeds are sown for a harvest of disaster to our
children, black and white.
First, it is the duty of black men to judge the South
discriminatingly. The present generation of Southerners are not responsible
for the past, and they should not be blindly hated or blamed for it.
Furthermore, to no class is the indiscriminate endorsement of the recent
course of the South toward Negroes more nauseating than to the best thought
of the South. The South is not “solid”; it is a land in the ferment of social
change, wherein forces of all kinds are fighting for supremacy; and to praise
the ill the South is to-day perpetrating is just as wrong as to condemn the
good. Discriminating and broad-minded criticism is what the South
needs,—needs it for the sake of her own white sons and daughters, and for the
insurance of robust, healthy mental and moral development.
To-day even the attitude of the Southern whites toward the
blacks is not, as so many assume, in all cases the same; the ignorant
Southerner hates the Negro, the workingmen fear his competition, the
money-makers wish to use him as a laborer, some of the educated see a menace
in his upward development, while others—usually the sons of the masters—wish
to help him to rise. National opinion has enabled this last class to maintain
the Negro common schools, and to protect the Negro partially in property,
life, and limb. Through the pressure of the money-makers, the Negro is in
danger of being reduced to semi-slavery, especially in the country districts;
the workingmen, and those of the educated who fear the Negro, have united to
disfranchise him, and some have urged his deportation; while the passions of
the ignorant are easily aroused to lynch and abuse any black man. To praise
this intricate whirl of thought and prejudice is nonsense; to inveigh indiscriminately
against “the South” is unjust; but to use the same breath in praising
Governor Aycock, exposing Senator Morgan, arguing with Mr. Thomas Nelson
Page, and denouncing Senator Ben Tillman, is not only sane, but the
imperative duty of thinking black men.
It would be unjust to Mr. Washington not to acknowledge that in
several instances he has opposed movements in the South which were unjust to
the Negro; he sent memorials to the Louisiana and Alabama constitutional
conventions, he has spoken against lynching, and in other ways has openly or
silently set his influence against sinister schemes and unfortunate
happenings. Notwithstanding this, it is equally true to assert that on the
whole the distinct impression left by Mr. Washington’s propaganda is, first,
that the South is justified in its present attitude toward the Negro because
of the Negro’s degradation; secondly, that the prime cause of the Negro’s
failure to rise more quickly is his wrong education in the past; and,
thirdly, that his future rise depends primarily on his own efforts. Each of
these propositions is a dangerous half-truth. The supplementary truths must
never be lost sight of: first, slavery and race-prejudice are potent if not
sufficient causes of the Negro’s position; second, industrial and
common-school training were necessarily slow in planting because they had to
await the black teachers trained by higher institutions,—it being extremely
doubtful if any essentially different development was possible, and certainly
a Tuskegee was unthinkable before 1880; and, third, while it is a great truth
to say that the Negro must strive and strive mightily to help himself, it is
equally true that unless his striving be not simply seconded, but rather
aroused and encouraged, by the initiative of the richer and wiser environing
group, he cannot hope for great success.
In his failure to realize and impress this last point, Mr.
Washington is especially to be criticised. His doctrine has tended to make
the whites, North and South, shift the burden of the Negro problem to the
Negro’s shoulders and stand aside as critical and rather pessimistic
spectators; when in fact the burden belongs to the nation, and the hands of
none of us are clean if we bend not our energies to righting these great wrongs.
The South ought to be led, by candid and honest criticism, to
assert her better self and do her full duty to the race she has cruelly
wronged and is still wronging. The North—her co-partner in guilt—cannot salve
her conscience by plastering it with gold. We cannot settle this problem by
diplomacy and suaveness, by “policy” alone. If worse come to worst, can the
moral fibre of this country survive the slow throttling and murder of nine
millions of men?
The black men of America have a duty to perform, a duty stern
and delicate,—a forward movement to oppose a part of the work of their
greatest leader. So far as Mr. Washington preaches Thrift, Patience, and
Industrial Training for the masses, we must hold up his hands and strive with
him, rejoicing in his honors and glorying in the strength of this Joshua
called of God and of man to lead the headless host. But so far as Mr.
Washington apologizes for injustice, North or South, does not rightly value
the privilege and duty of voting, belittles the emasculating effects of caste
distinctions, and opposes the higher training and ambition of our brighter
minds,—so far as he, the South, or the Nation, does this,—we must unceasingly
and firmly oppose them. By every civilized and peaceful method we must strive
for the rights which the world accords to men, clinging unwaveringly to those
great words which the sons of the Fathers would fain forget: “We hold these
truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are
endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these
are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
The Talented Tenth
W.E.B. Du Bois
In this article Du Bois
spells out his objections to Booker T. Washington’s emphasis on manual and
industrial training for African Americans, and makes a case that a “Talented
Tenth” of black youth ought to receive a college or university education.
Follow this format in citing from this work: (Talented Tenth). Since it is a brief article, no page number is
The Negro race, like all
races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men. The problem of education,
then, among Negroes must first of all deal with the Talented Tenth; it is the
problem of developing the Best of this race that they may guide the Mass away
from the contamination and death of the Worst, in their own and other races.
Now the training of men is a difficult and intricate task. . . . If we make
money the object of man-training, we shall develop money-makers but not
necessarily men; if we make technical skill the object of education, we may
possess artisans but not, in nature, men. . . .
From the very first it has
been the educated and intelligent of the Negro people that have led and
elevated the mass, and the sole obstacles that nullified and retarded their
efforts were slavery and race prejudice; for what is slavery but the legalized
survival of the unfit and the nullification of the work of natural internal
leadership? Negro leadership therefore sought from the first to rid the race of
this awful incubus that it might make way for natural selection and the
survival of the fittest. . . .
Can the masses of the
Negro people be in any possible way more quickly raised than by the effort and
example of this aristocracy of talent and character? Was there ever a nation on
God’s fair earth civilized from the bottom upward? Never; it is, ever was and
ever will be from the top downward that culture filters. The Talented Tenth
rises and pulls all that are worth the saving up to their vantage ground. This
is the history of human progress . . . .
How then shall the leaders
of a struggling people be trained and the hands of the risen few strengthened?
There can be but one answer: The best and most capable of their youth must be
schooled in the colleges and universities of the land. . . .
All men cannot go to
college but some men must; every isolated group or nation must have its yeast,
must have for the talented few centers of training where men are not so
mystified and befuddled by the hard and necessary toil of earning a living, as
to have no aims higher than their bellies, and no God greater than Gold. . . .
The college-bred Negro . .
. is, as he ought to be, the group leader, the man who sets the ideals of the
community where he lives, directs its thoughts and heads its social movements.
It need hardly be argued that the Negro people need social leadership more than
most groups; that they have no traditions to fall back upon, no long
established customs, no strong family ties, no well defined social classes. All
these things must be slowly and painfully evolved. The preacher was, even
before the war, the group leader of the Negroes, and the church their greatest
social institution. Naturally this preacher was ignorant and often immoral, and
the problem of replacing the older type by better educated men has been a
difficult one. Both by direct work and by direct influence on other preachers,
and on congregations, the college-bred preacher has an opportunity for
reformatory work and moral inspiration, the value of which cannot be
It has, however, been in
the furnishing of teachers that the Negro college has found its peculiar
function. Few persons realize how vast a work, how mighty a revolution has been
thus accomplished. To furnish five millions and more of ignorant people with
teachers of their own race and blood, in one generation, was not only a very
difficult undertaking, but very important one, in that, it placed before the
eyes of almost every Negro child an attainable ideal. It brought the masses of
the blacks in contact with modern civilization, made black men the leaders of
their communities and trainers of the new generation. In this work college-bred
Negroes were first teachers, and then teachers of teachers. And here it is that
the broad culture of college work has been of peculiar value. Knowledge of life
and its wider meaning, has been the point of the Negro’s deepest ignorance, and
the sending out of teachers whose training has not been simply for bread
winning, but also for human culture, has been of inestimable value in the
training of these men. . . .
There must be teachers,
and teachers of teachers, and to attempt to establish any sort of a system of
common and industrial school training, without first . . . providing for
the higher training of the very best teachers, is simply throwing your money to
the winds. School houses do not teach themselves - piles of brick and mortar
and machinery do not send out men. It is the trained, living human soul,
cultivated and strengthened by long study and thought, that breathes the real
breath of life into boys and girls and makes them human, whether they be black
or white, Greek, Russian or American. . . .
I would not deny, or for a
moment seem to deny, the paramount necessity of teaching the Negro to work, and
to work steadily and skillfully; or seem to depreciate in the slightest degree
the important part industrial schools must play in the accomplishment of these
ends, but I do say, and insist upon it, that it is industrialism drunk
with its vision of success, to imagine that its own work can be accomplished
without providing for the training of broadly cultured men and women to teach
its own teachers, and to teach the teachers of the public schools.
But I have already said
that human education is not simply a matter of schools; it is much more a
matter of family and group life - the training of one’s home, of one’s daily
companions, of one’s social class. Now the black boy of the South moves in a
black world - a world with its own leaders, its own thoughts, its own ideals.
In this world he gets by far the larger part of his life training, and through
the eyes of this dark world he peers into the veiled world beyond. Who guides
and determines the education which he receives in his world? His teachers here
are the group-leaders of the Negro people---the physicians and clergymen, the
trained fathers and mothers, the influential and forceful men about him of all
kinds; here it is, if at all, that the culture of the surrounding world
trickles through and is handed on by the graduates of the higher schools. Can
such culture training of group leaders be neglected? Can we afford to ignore
it? Do you think that if the leaders of thought among Negroes are not trained
and educated thinkers, that they will have no leaders? On the contrary a
hundred half-trained demagogues will still hold the places they so largely
occupy now, and hundreds of vociferous busy-bodies will multiply. You have no
choice; either you must help furnish this race from within its own ranks with
thoughtful men of trained leadership, or you must suffer the evil consequences
of a headless misguided rabble.
I am an earnest advocate
of manual training and trade teaching for black boys, and for white boys, too.
I believe that next to the founding of Negro colleges the most valuable
addition to Negro education since the war has been industrial training for
black boys. Nevertheless, I insist that the object of all true education is not
to make men carpenters, it is to make carpenters men; there are two means of
making the carpenter a man, each equally important: the first is to give the
group and community in which he works, liberally trained teachers and leaders
to teach him and his family what life means; the second is to give him
sufficient intelligence and technical skill to make him an efficient workman;
the first object demands the Negro college and college-bred men--not a quantity
of such colleges, but a few of excellent quality; not too many college-bred
men, but enough to leaven the lump, to inspire the masses, to raise the
Talented Tenth to leadership; the second object demands a good system of common
schools, well-taught, conveniently located and properly equipped. . . .
What is the chief need for
the building up of the Negro public school in the South? The Negro race in the
South needs teachers to-day above all else. This is the concurrent testimony of
all who know the situation. For the supply of this great demand two things are
needed - institutions of higher education and money for school houses and
salaries. . . .
Thus, again, in the
manning of trade schools and manual training schools we are thrown back upon
the higher training as its source and chief support. There was a time when any
aged and worn-out carpenter could teach in a trade school. But not so to-day.
Indeed the demand for college-bred men by a school like Tuskegee ought to make
Mr. Booker T. Washington the firmest friend of higher training. Here he has as
helpers the son of a Negro senator, trained in Greek and the humanities, and
graduated at Harvard; the son of a Negro congressman and lawyer, trained in
Latin and mathematics, and graduated at Oberlin; he has as his wife, a woman
who read Virgil and Homer in the same class room with me; he has as college
chaplain, a classical graduate of Atlanta University; as teacher of science, a
graduate of Fisk; as teacher of history, a graduate of Smith,--indeed some
thirty of his chief teachers are college graduates, and instead of studying French
grammars in the midst of weeds, or buying pianos for dirty cabins, they are at
Mr. Washington’s right hand helping him in a noble work. And yet one of the
effects of Mr. Washington’s propaganda has been to throw doubt upon the
expediency of such training for Negroes, as these persons have had.
Men of America, the
problem is plain before you. Here is a race transplanted through the criminal
foolishness of your fathers. Whether you like it or not the millions are here,
and here they will remain. If you do not lift them up, they will pull you down.
Education and work are the levers to uplift a people. Work alone will not do it
unless inspired by the right ideals and guided by intelligence. Education must
not simply teach work--it must teach Life. The Talented Tenth of the Negro race
must be made leaders of thought and missionaries of culture among their people.
No others can do this work and Negro colleges must train men for it. The Negro
race, like all other races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men.
PBS Program on Booker T.
Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois
The following is
from the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) program, “The Two Nations of Black
America: Booker T. and W. E. B., The Debate between W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker
T. Washington.” If you cite it, do so
thus: (PBS handout). There is no need to give the page number since there is
only one page.
Two great leaders
of the black community in the late 19th and 20th century were W.E.B. Du Bois
and Booker T. Washington. However, they sharply disagreed on strategies for
black social and economic progress. Their opposing philosophies can be found in
much of today's discussions over how to end class and racial injustice, what is
the role of black leadership, and what do the 'haves' owe the 'have-nots' in
the black community.
Washington, educator, reformer and the most influential black leader of his
time (1856-1915) preached a philosophy of self-help, racial solidarity and
accommodation. He urged blacks to accept discrimination for the time being and
concentrate on elevating themselves through hard work and material prosperity.
He believed in education in the crafts, industrial and farming skills and the
cultivation of the virtues of patience, enterprise and thrift. This, he said,
would win the respect of whites and lead to African Americans being fully
accepted as citizens and integrated into all strata of society.
W.E.B. Du Bois, a
towering black intellectual, scholar and political thinker (1868-1963) said
no--Washington's strategy would serve only to perpetuate white oppression. Du
Bois advocated political action and a civil rights agenda (he helped found the
NAACP). In addition, he argued that social change could be accomplished by
developing the small group of college-educated blacks he called "the