Excerpts from the Atlanta Exposition Address-Booker T. Washington



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Excerpts from the Atlanta Exposition Address-Booker T. Washington





  1. To those of my race who depend on bettering their condition in a foreign land or who underestimate the importance of cultivating friendly relations with the Southern white man, who is their next-door neighbor, I would say: “Cast down your bucket where you are”--cast it down in making friends in every manly way of the people of all race by whom we are surrounded.

  2. Cast it down in agriculture, mechanics, in commerce, in domestic service, and in the professions. And in this connection it is well to bear in mind that whatever other sins the South may be called to bear, when it comes to business, pure and simple, it is in the South that the Negro is given a man’s chance in the commercial work, and in nothing is this Exposition more eloquent than in emphasizing this chance

  3. No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem. It is at the bottom of lie we must begin, and not at the top. Nor should we permit our grievances to overshadow our opportunities.

  4. In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.

W.E.B Du Bois’s Criticism of Booker T. Washington

In the history of nearly all other races and peoples the doctrine preached at such crises has been that manly self-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 rights

Third, higher education of Negro youth



and concentrate all their energies on industrial education, the accumulation of wealth, and the conciliation of the South.
Mr. Washington thus faces the triple paradox of his career;

  1. 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 suffrage.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.


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