Booker T. Washington and W.E.B Dubois both had different interpretations on educating the Negro, but each had its positive influence. W.E.B Dubois focused on an opposite approach as Washington’s, using a strategy called “the gradualist political strategy.” Booker T. Washington emphasized the fact that having a respectable education would create jobs for the Negroes, making it no task to ask to be accepted into society by the whites.
Dubois believed blacks should be just like the whites in life, with respectable educations and high intelligence. As he quoted, “This is the history of human progress; and the two historic mistakes which have hindered that progress were the thinking first that no more could ever rise save the few already risen; or second, that it would better the uprisen to pull the risen down (Dubois).” He stressed the fact that blacks not only needed economic security, but that there were not enough blacks getting educated. Dubois was a man that took on Booker T. Washington’s philosophies a step further. All Washington wanted was for blacks to have a chance in society without being equal, but W.E.B took the challenge and wanted equality and the black race to have opportunities.
Booker T. Washington was a firm believer in the black race. He wanted people to think positively Instead of the stereotypes and myths that the blacks were judged on. He expressed, “Our greatest danger is, that in the great leap from slavery to freedom we may overlook the fact that the masses of us are to live by the productions of our hands, and fail to keep in mind that we shall prosper in proportion as we learn to dignify and glorify common labor and put brains and skill into common occupations of life (Washington).” Washington saw labor as positive, but I just couldn’t stand it because of what the blacks had to go through for this production. He expressed that blacks should be able to work for themselves. Instead of asking for equality, Washington asked for help from the whites to have blacks get trained to work and become prosperous civilians in society. Booker T. Washington’s strategy included job etiquette and public speaking; He felt that if all he asked was for equality, that it wouldn’t be enough.
Both of these men have had great influence on history, but I would have to strongly go towards W.E.B Dubois’ side. Instead of only wanting equality with the whites, he wanted the approval of having opportunities in society as well. Dubois states a quote from Maria Weston Chapman which says, “It has prepared the white man for the freedom of the black man, and it has made the black man scorn the thought of enslavement, as does a white man, as far as its influence has extended (Chapman).” Dubois uses this quote as a reference to his opinion, which making perfect sense because he feels that with equality and opportunity, the whites would look upon blacks differently and change their view of the Negroes in general. Washington had good intentions for the Negroes race, but I fell as if he didn’t get the job done because he only wanted opportunity and not equality. I believe that there was no way that the blacks could get opportunity without equality amongst the whites.
“The Talented Tenth by W.E.B. Dubois.” TeachingAmericanHistory.org – Free
Seminars and Summer Institutes for Social Studies Teachers. (2006-08) Web. 15 Feb.
Fengler, Renata. “Booker T. Washington’s “Atlanta Compromise” Speech.”