Philosophies Of W. E. B. Du Bois And Booker T. Washington

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African-Americans have had the burden of dealing with oppression since slavery was introduced in the colonies in the 1600s. Until the Emancipation Proclamation, slavery was the primary vehicle of this oppression. This system clearly emphasized physical bondage and regarded African-Americans as property. Segregation would continue to provide a physical barrier as Jim Crow laws were introduced. The mental bondage and psychological abuse were also present and in many ways still exists today. W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington are two prominent black leaders who had different philosophies for uplifting the black community after the Reconstruction. Accordingly, I will argue that the approach Du Bois used was the more beneficial, progressive, …show more content…
Washington during this time period. As previously mentioned, their philosophies are the quintessential opposites of each other. Du Bois’s background is also steeped in education as he graduated from Fisk University. This is a stark difference in background between the two leaders as Washington was a former slave. Washington’s approach tended to compromise with white leaders and communities which lead to the critical claim in received. Conversely, Du Bois argued for immediate equal rights for blacks and challenged the institution in place. His ideology attacked this notion that blacks should allow their rights to be denied. Du Bois wrote a response to Booker T. Washington in his book Souls of Black Folk. Du Bois states that “Mr. Washington’s programme practically accepts the alleged inferiority of the Negro races . . . . Mr. Washington withdraws many of the high demands of Negroes as men and American citizens.” (Du Bois, Souls of Black Folk, pg.40). Du Bois is arguing that Washington is confirming that blacks are inferior to whites and should accept this. The second part of the quote charges Washington with disregarding “high demands of Negroes as men and American citizens.” (Du Bois, Souls of Black Folk, pg.40). These “higher demands” allude to higher education and immediate racial equality with full citizen rights. Du Bois argues that Washington is sending the wrong message to both whites and blacks. He also argues that blacks should not …show more content…
“One ever feels his two-ness, 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.” (Du Bois, Souls of Black Folk, pg.11). This quote details the difficulty the double-consciousness presents to a black person every day. A black person must approach every situation with a certain sense of caution or hesitation as actions they commit will be viewed differently than if they were white. There is a theme of pseudo-freedom here. Although American and “free”, blacks did not receive the same privileges, rights, and liberties as whites did and were often subjected to racist treatment. In some instances, this treatment transitioned into fatal punishment such as lynching. A radical perspective was needed to bring more awareness to both blacks and whites that oppression was still occurring and that blacks were experiencing institutional injustice. Du Bois provided this perspective in the Souls of Black

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