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The Opposing Stances on Racial Rights of Washington and Dubois

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W.E.B Du Bois was an American historian and author known for his significant impact during the primary portion of the twentieth century. Du Bois was born on February 23rd 1868 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. After graduating with an advanced degree at Harvard University, Du Bois took an interest in social science. He lead an empirical study into the state of blacks in America. Booker T. Washington was an American reformer known best for being the president of Tuskegee University and as the most influential spokesman for the African American community between 1895 to the day he died. He was born on April 5th 1856 in Franklin County Virginia. Du Bois often disagreed with Washington in terms of how blacks should handle the situation with race. They both lived in a time where there was extreme violence towards people of color and America was separated with Jim Crow segregation laws. Washington was born in pure poverty which made schooling nonexistent at the time.

Washington was so passionate to receive an education, he enrolled to Hampton University where he worked as a janitor to help financially with university expenses. Later on in his life, Washington was chosen to lead a new school for African Americans called Tuskegee University. He devoted his life to this University for thirty-four years, making some notable improvements to the school. Due to this upbringing, Washington believed that it would be in the best interests for black individuals to acknowledge through education. He philosophized accomadation and encouraged African Americans to accept discrimination for now, to upraise themselves throgh hard work and finacial gain, therefore gaining respect from the whites. Du Bois, due to his background in social science, concluded that the only solution to social change was through agitation and protest. Du Bois publicly attacked Washington in his book,” The Souls of Black Folks.” He stated in chapter 3 of his book ‘So far as Mr. Washington apologizes for injustice, North or South, does not rightly value the privilege and duty of voting, belittles the… effects of caste distinctions, and opposes the higher training and ambitions of our brighter minds so far as he, the South, or the Nation does this we must unceasingly and firmly oppose them.

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By every civilized and peaceful method we must strive for the rights which the world accords to men.’ (B. 1967). That quote was towards Washington and how he felt about his ideas. Du Bois praises Washington’s acknowledgement and realization of the injustice happening at the time but also argued that in order for Negro people to have absolute freedom, they need political representation not just education to excel. He believed one must not only fight for injustice but for equal rights like voting as well. In 1905, Du Bois founded the Niagara Movement, which was devoted to attacking Washington. After three years, this small organization disbanded but was the direct inspiration for the NAACP.

This feud between Du Bois and Washington parallel Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s during the Civil Rights Movement. Malcolm X approached the situation in a more violent manner whereas Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. approached the situation more peacefully. The problems never really went away, it always just morphs into something new. This problem paralles the discrimination happening to the LGBTQ community, to women, and even still the African American community in present day.

In conclusion, I agreed more with Du Bois’s stance on how to go about things. I am a firm believer that if you want change, you need to act on it. If you followed Washington’s philosophies, there would be no change in this world. I guess this view on things is in my blood because I’m Haitian and when the people of Haiti were being enslaved, they revolted and fought for their freedom. They acted on it, and change was granted to them. They became the first independent black country in the western hemisphere. You could accomplish a lot if you don’t accept things that sit right with you in your gut.

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