Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois both had their own individual approaches for dealing with Black America’s poverty, discrimination, and segregation problems at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. Their opposing strategies both greatly assisted their race through the times of struggle. They fought for the same thing, but had different ways of handling the situation in order to change the country at that time.
Although WEB Du Bois’ strategy for immediate integration was a good one, I believe that Booker T Washington’s strategies of gradual integration and focusing on the black race as a whole were more appropriate for the time period of 1877-1915. The school enrollment by race was much lower for blacks in the period when Washington and Du Bois made a great impact on the educational system. Beginning around 1905, there was an upward spike in Black schooled children which is credited to the efforts and influence from both Washington and Du Bois.
From 1890-1910, the percentage of illiteracy in blacks was cut in half (B). Du Bois and Washington also helped reduce the racial discriminations against blacks. After the highest number of lynchings in 1890; they began to become less common over the next 20 years(C). Booker T. wanted all black Americans to learn trades. This is the primary reason that he set up Tuskegee institute. He wanted them to pass on those skills, and use those skills so their families could have a better life.
In his famous Atlanta address he stated “Cast down your bucket where you are…while doing this you can be sure in the future, as in the past, that you and your families will be surrounded by the most patient, faithful, law-abiding, and un-resentful people that the world has seen. ”(D). This excerpt from the document basically says that whites should hire blacks because they will be good and respectful workers. When we are taught a specific trade and teach it to our families, we can in turn be successful and live good lives in the future.
Because of learning this skill and in turn teaching it to their family, the lives of the blacks were better off in the future. By bettering their lives, they will in turn be more respected by the whites in the long run. This strategy for gradual integration, I believe, was a giant step for not only Booker T Washington, but the black race as a whole. W. E. B Du Bois’ strategy can be seen in “The Niagara Movement” (F) “The Niagara Movement proposes to gain these ends….
If we expect to gain our rights by nerveless acquiescence in wrong, then we expect to do what no other nation ever did. We must complain. Yes, complain, this is the ancient, unerring way to liberty, and we must follow it. ”(F). I disagree with his strategy for the period 1877-1915 because Du Bois only thought about a small number of the black race, the top ten percent. He was going to make sure that they were advocates of his ideas and somehow they were going to become the intelligence for the black race as a whole.
As to how he was to go about this, I have no idea. The lone way that I can think of is to make the “talented ten” educate the new generations at a time when only 30 percent of blacks attended schooling (A). This strategy advocated immediate integration at a time when the obvious way to equality was through gradually earning the respect of the white in a Booker T type strategy. This strategy of Du Bois also appoints only specific figures as a type of leadership of the black race. In Booker T Washington’s proposal, he included the entire race as opposed to W.
E. B’s proposal pertaining to only a small select few. I believe that Du Bois’ strategy would have a better chance of working in a later time period. In the time period of 1877-1915, there really were not a lot of black Americans enrolled in school (A). That rate did not rise until around 1910 showing that after that year there would be a much better chance of any percent of Black Americans becoming educated by his proposed “talented ten”. Also around this time black people were becoming much more educated allowing them to become more literate (B).
It appears that at the end of the time period we are discussing, there is a much larger opportunity for black Americans to become educated and progress, than there is at the beginning of the time period being discussed. Another reason it seems the Booker T Washington’s strategy is more appropriate is because it’s concept of gradual integration did in fact work due to the fact that blacks gradually became more educated and literate (A, B). Also, the amount of black lynchings became more and scarce as Tuskegee institute developed and blacks developed more skills (C).
This is perceived by me in a number of ways. First off, black Americans were learning skills now by the way of Booker T’s methods, and were not only becoming smarter and more efficient but also becoming more important to other people around them especially white landowners. Their skills were needed by others, which not only gave people a reason not to lynch them, but it also introduced many whites to more black Americans. A person would much rather lynch someone that they did not know personally, rather than someone who works in their field gathering crops and tending their animals.
Booker T is praised by T. Thomas Fortune, a black activist and newspaper editor who writes about Booker in the nationally circulated black periodical, “Christian Recorder. ”(G). Booker T is spoken of as a man whose value is impossible to estimate. His work involving Tuskegee Institute is hailed for having 400 students, great teachers, splendid farm equipments, stock-raising, fruit culture, laundry work, practical housekeeping, blacksmithing, wheelwrighting, carpentering, and more; all this while a normal school system is maintained. No time is wasted on dead languages or superfluous studies of any kind. What is practical, what will best fit these young people for the work of life and that is taught, and is aimed at” (G). This shows that his approach was working and working effectively for the progression of blacks at this time as well as preparing them for the future. I was able to assess the appropriateness of each of the strategies in the historical context in which each was developed and have come to the conclusion that WEB just might have been a little before his time with his views.
Maybe later on when the literacy rate was higher and more black Americans were being educated at a higher rate, his idea could have worked. Due to the concepts given by Booker T Washington, the blacks were being educated in the appropriate categories and evolving effectively at that time and in the future. The evidence that I have presented and have been presented with is enough for me to say that I believe, using my knowledge of the given documents and my knowledge of the period from 1877-1915, that Booker T Washington’s strategies were much more effective for the time period 1877-1915.