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Black Leaders: Booker T. Washington And William Edward Burghardt Du Bois

1815 words - 7 pages

Booker T. Washington and William Edward Burghardt Du Bois were influential black leaders. Their leadership strengthened the minds of the black race. During the decades of Reconstruction following the Civil War, African Americans struggled to be assimilated into the new American society. To do this African Americans required social and economic equality. Two great Negro leaders that emerged for this cause were Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois. With these two strong-headed men, another problem arose. They both sharply disagreed upon the strategies needed to gain these equalities. Washington preferred a gradual, submissive, and economically based plan. On the other hand, Du Bois relied upon a more agitating and politically aggressive plan. They worked for the advancement of African-Americans in American society, but their methods of achieving this goal and their leadership style differed greatly from one another. It is hard to fathom that two men, who helped to strive for the great goal of racial fairness, could have been such opposites, but it is true.
Booker T. Washington, a former slave and the founder of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, believed that African Americans needed to accept segregation and discrimination for the time being and concentrate on elevating themselves through hard work and material prosperity. The eventual acquisition of wealth and culture by African Americans would gradually win for them the respect and acceptance of the white community. This would break down the divisions between the two races and lead to equal citizenship for African Americans in the end. Also he urged blacks to accept discrimination for the time being and concentrate on elevating themselves through hard work and material prosperity. He believed in education in the crafts, industrial and farming skills and the cultivation of the virtues of patience, enterprise and thrift. This, he said, would win the respect of whites and lead to African Americans being fully accepted as citizens and included into all strata of society. Washington wanted blacks in the south to respect and value the need for industrial education both from a vantage of American and African experience.
Booker T. Washington was born a slave on April 5, 1856 in Franklin County, Virginia. Once the slaves were emancipated, his family moved to West Virginia. There, his family was poor, and he had to work in a salt furnace and then a coal mine. In school he named himself Booker Washington. Only later did he find out his name was Booker Taliaferro. So he combined both names to form his now famous name, Booker T. Washington. He went to school at the Hampton Institute, which was an industrial school for blacks. Later on, he based his educational theories on his time at Hampton. He founded the Tuskegee Institute, which was a Negro school, which eventually became known for its hardworking, reliable graduates.
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was born into an affluent family on February...

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