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W.E.D. Dubois Essay

Many of the nation’s leaders come from many different backgrounds and experience many different types of education. W.E.D Dubois and Booker T. Washington fit into this description of leaders. Both men are the same but also equally different in many ways, from personal backgrounds, to education and even their philosophies’. “Where there is no struggle there is no strength”. ~Oprah Winfrey. Both men experienced hard ships and glories throughout life which shaped them into strong men. W.E.D. Dubois was born in Great Barrington Massachusetts in 1868. Dubois was the only child of Mary Burghardt and Alfred Dubois. At a young age Dubois’s father left him and his mother. Although Dubois was not born into slavery, his grandmother Elizabeth Freeman was a slave who sued to earn her freedom. The community Dubois lived in was mostly white with about 50 blacks. Booker T. Washington on the other hand was born in 1856 a slave and lived on a plantation in Virginia. Washington had 3 siblings James who was adopted, John and his sister Amanda.

Like Dubois, Washington didn’t know his father who was a white man. Growing up not knowing their real fathers, with little blacks in one area and more helpless blacks than desired on a plantation, where whites ruled in both places was a struggle for both men, but strengthened them and gave them courage to succeeded. ”Live as you were to die tomorrow, Learn as if you were to live forever.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi. Although both men went through many problems and were not expected to succeed they still took advantage of every opportunity that came there way especially when it came to education. W.E.D Dubois attended a pradomently white school as a child, and was the valedictory in high school. In 1885 Dubois attended Fisk University in Nashville Tennessee and graduated 3 years later. In 1888 he attended Harvard University where he received his Ph.D. and was the first black man to do so, in philosophy.

But he didn’t stop there, he later traveled to Europe where he studied at Berlin and later became a professor at history and economic. Washington like Dubois took advantage of his education although he didn’t have the tools that Dubois did. When Washington was born it was against the law for slaves to learn to read and write. After the civil war ended Washington attended Hampton Institution and later taught at a school and briefly studied law and ministry. Although Washington didn’t receive his Ph. D. he was the founder of Tuskegee Institution located in Alabama. Despite the fact that both men believed in Education they had completely different philosophies. According to Wikipedia a philosophy is a set of views and beliefs that separates humans from one another. Dubois and Washington were both very strong and educated men with similar backgrounds, but very different philosophies. Washington believed in self-help and accepting discrimination.

He was the spokesmen of a gradualist economy. Despite the fact that he believed blacks should accept discrimination he also believed (as stated in the Atlanta compromise) that whites should provide jobs for Negros. But in order to receive this black would have to give up demands of social equality. He also believed in interdependence of both races, but they should remain separate. Dubois on the other hand totally disagreed with Washington. He believed his strategy would only help white oppression and continue to hold blacks back. Dubois advocated political action and helped found the NAACP. Dubois believed that the talented tenth, a group of college educated blacks would spark social change. Both men had very good points but I support one more than the other.

“To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hard ships.”~ W.E.D Dubois. Quotes like these make me sided with Dubois much more, not Unlike Washington Dubois didn’t believe whites and blacks should remain separate or that in order to advance we should settle for less. Dubois believed in his people speaking out for what was right and what they would accept. All in all, both Washington and Dubois were great leaders, motivators and very inspirational with similarities and differences. Both came from not so great backgrounds and didn’t allow that to stop them from becoming great men with great education. Although they were both strong they both have different philosophies that many people respect.


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