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Dubois and Washington Essay

In assessing the suitability of W. E. B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington approaches towards the black development goals in the South of Jim Crow laws era we need to have a little ides of what the Jim Crow laws were designed to achieve. Permitting African Americans to develop while those laws were in place and peaceful struggle to work against the discriminatory laws would be my standard of suitability of the measures used by the two Race Leaders. I believe that Washington’s approach was too meek and would have damaged the black cause. On the other hand Dubois’s approach seems arrogant for the time.

Both Race Leaders being in the same period must have had a positive effect on the black rights as each approach considered separately was likely to be harmful to the black cause. Jim Crow Laws During the period of slavery, the relationship between white masters and black slaves was clearly defined as that of a master and slave, with all the rights belonging to the master and none to the slave. Once the blacks were declared as free, the need for keeping the ex-slaves in their place became important and the states and local communities began to pass laws to segregate blacks in social and public life.

Blacks were, as to say segregated from cradle to grave (from “hospitals, schools, trains, restrooms, water, fountains, parks, dance halls, barbershops, penitentiaries, restaurants, theaters, asylums, and institutions for the blind and deaf, cemeteries” [Mercer & Beckett, 2003]). Initially blacks were intimidated to keep away from politics and using their votes but gradually a variety of bureaucratic and extra legal methods were used to disenfranchise the blacks.

The legal and extra legal methods such as violence and intimidation to disenfranchise the African Americans was to ensure that blacks are not in a position to use their political strength to oppose the second class status assigned to them in the South [Mercer & Beckett, 2003]. These discriminatory laws were called Jim Crow laws after a character in the then popular song and dance minstrel show. Dubois and Washington’s Approach to Black Rights Jim Crow laws were designed to destine the black Americans to a second class citizen status.

Booker T Washington was faced with living and operating in the southern United States which had still not come to term with the equality of races. Washington realized that in order to improve the lot of his black countrymen he would need the support of white majority He knew that he would have to allay their fears regarding all claims of equality to seek their help to provide education and support for the black causes. W. E. B. Du Bois was settled in the much relaxed and liberal North.

Du Bois wanted to see an America with social equality where individuals would be rewarded according to their merits [Bauerlein, 2004]. Washington’s Atlanta’s Compromise was effectively a surrender to the wishes of White racist America and Jim Crow laws and made Washington the favorite black leader of the white America who were happy to see him advocate their vision of blacks role in America. Conservative blacks who wanted to consolidate their position before demanding their rights found Washington’s approach pragmatic and supported him whole heartedly too.

Du Bois on the other hand insisted that the black American’s had every right to be treated as equals, the right to vote and opportunities for the talented blacks (what he called Talented Tenth). He warned that if the blacks were not given their rights the white America will suffer too . DuBois Critiques Booker T. Washington Du Bois acknowledges Washington’s success as being the result of different interpretation of his Atlanta compromise, “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 today its author is certainly the most distinguished Southerner since Jefferson Davis, and the one with the largest personal following” [Dubois, 1903]. He recognizes Washington’s success and acknowledges that Washington has to work in difficult southern setting, “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” [Dubois, 1903].

Dubois criticizes Booker Washington for his approach and asking Black Americans to give up claims for political power, their insistence on civil rights and higher education for black youths. He argues that Washington’s advocacy of these critical matters resulted in black disenfranchisement, legal creation of civil inferiority of Black Americans and withdrawal of financial support from institutions of higher education for blacks [Dubois, 1903].

DuBois accuses Booker Washington of encouraging evil, “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”[Dubois, 1903]. On one hand Booker Washington follows a eek approach and hopes that blacks will eventually prove themselves to be worthy of being treated as equals, On the other hand Dubois’s arrogant attitude could only be expected to create additional obstacles in the obviously racist South of that period. Discussion and Conclusions

I find that both leaders’ approaches were unsuitable to handle the Jim Crow laws. Washington’s approach was that of a pathetic submission to second class status for black Americans. Dubois’s approach went to the other extreme alienating even the sympathetic whites from the cause of helping blacks achieve their rights. While, Washington’s submissive approach won him huge funds for his projects and a leadership role that was acknowledged right up to the White house. Dubois insistence on ‘equality now’ and legal course to winning the black rights did restore the pride of black America.

Thus the counterbalance of the two approaches reduced the possible harm that the two approaches would have done the cause of black America if they were applied without the influence of the other. Bibliography Bauerlein, M. , (2004), Washington, Du Bois, and the Black Future, the Wilson Quarterly, Volume: 28. Issue: 4, Page Number: 74+, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Du Bois, W. E. B. , (1903), The Souls of Black Folk, Chicago Mercer, D. and Beckett E. , (2003), New Jersey AAH Curriculum Guide _ Unit 8: The Rise of Jim Crow and the Nadir, 1878-1915, New Jersey State Library.

[Online] retrieved from Internet on May 06, 2007, http://www. njstatelib. org/NJ_Information/Digital_Collections/AAHCG/unit8. html Olson, J. , (2005), W. E. B. Du Bois and the Race Concept, Northern Arizona University, USA, http://www. yale. edu/polisci/info/conferences/W. E. B. %20DuBois/Papers/Olson-DuBois&Race-III. pdf Tell, B. , (1996). Separate yet One, Library of Congress Information Bulletin, [Online] retrieved from Internet on May 06, 2007, http://www. loc. gov/loc/lcib/9603/booker. html


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