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Booker T. Washington And W.E.B. Du Bois' Common Goal Of Equality For African Americans

1532 words - 6 pages

Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois' Common Goal of Equality for African Americans

The United States societal system during the 19th century was saturated with a legacy of discrimination based upon race. Cultivating a humanitarian approach, progressive intellectuals ushered in an era of societal reconstruction with the intention to establish primary equalities on the pervasive argument of human race. The experiment poised the United States for rebellion and lasting ramifications. The instantaneous repercussions for both races evolving from the emancipation of African-Americans were plainly stated by the daughter of a Georgia planter in the summer of 1865: "There are sad changes in store for both races" (Nash 469). The long-term ramifications are still in progress. The combination and division of commerce and virtue, north and south, white and black, violence and empathy, and personal and political agendas, created the birth and death of the era of Reconstruction that began during the Civil War and ended in 1877. However, the period of Reconstruction provided the entry for two African-American men, Booker T Washington and W.E.B. DuBois, to rise to leadership positions while propelling radically opposing ideologies. The two differing ideologies served as anchors in a society adrift. Both races, being tossed about by the storm Reconstruction had unleashed upon society, were compelled to reach-out for the anchors that symbolized the prospect of stability. Washington and DuBois anchors were thrust in different bodies of water, but both men's proclamations existed in currents that surged toward a collective body of water. Washington and DuBois's positions on the collaboration amongst the races had extreme variations due to their own personal backgrounds, but both men sought economical, political, and social equality for African-Americans.

The Reconstruction of the United States was an experiment in interracial democracy. The Civil War victory by the North brought to a close the establishment of slavery but, in turn, opened Pandora's box. The questions and answers pertaining to economical, political, and social equality for freedmen had yet to be addressed on a practical level. The Southern states, still bitter from defeat and economic stresses, strongly rejected the societal transformations thrust upon them. The Northern states' focal point remained on the necessary political powers by which to enact constitutional amendments, therefore empowering the federal government with the capabilities to enforce the principles of equal rights. On paper, slavery was abolished, but in reality, African-Americans were once again enslaved on a ship without the security or knowledge of what the next port held for them. The Civil War had not truly ended. It was still active under the guise of Reconstruction, but now coats and flags of many colors existed, and battles were merely fought on alternate battlefields. A war of ideas lacking in substantial...

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