The Influence of One Man
After slavery was abolished, African Americans worked to integrate into mainstream American society. During the twentieth century many African American civil rights leaders led the African American civil rights movement. All of them had different ideas and approaches to further improve the status for the African American individual in attempt to gain civil equality. The pioneer civil rights leaders of the twentieth century were Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Dubois. Their respected ideas were known to have contradicted with each other. Malcolm X, a black supremacist was a member of the NOI (Nation of Islam) and based his platforms of teachings off from religion. Martin Luther King Jr.’s approach towards gaining equality was of nonviolent actions. This proved to have been the most effective way to solidify through legislature the civil rights of African Americans within America. With that solid, Martin Luther King Jr. was the most productive and influential African American civil rights leader within the civil rights movement.
Booker T. Washington believed that by first gaining Economic respect, civil right for African Americans will also slowly, but gradually become achieved. Booker T. Washington founded the Tuskegee Academy, an institution for African Americans. At Tuskegee Academy, Washington states: “My plan was to have them, while performing this service, taught the latest and best methods of labour, so that the school would not only get the benefit of their efforts, but the students themselves would be taught to see not only utility in labour, but beauty and dignity” (Washington, Up from Slavery, an Autobiography). Booker T. Washington accepted the fact of white supremacy. His ideas focused more on saving money, working hard, and gaining respectable jobs. He was the maker of the Atlantic Compromise, asking for white Americans to provide jobs and opportunities of education for African Americans in exchange for the halt towards the demands for civil rights focusing on equality. The African Americans will have to show that they are useful beings that can both excel and perform at challenging jobs. In essence, Washington’s plan was for African Americans to prove themselves to the dominant white race by acquiring high economic status. (Gibson, "78.02.02: Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. DuBois: The Problem of Negro Leadership.”) However, Booker T. Washington’s job of accepting white supremacy place African Americans in an inferior position. Civil rights leaders should be working for equality. By mainly going after jobs, African Americans will gain economic status but they will forever be considered inferior because of their skin color. Civil rights will not come along because of economic status.
W.E.B. Dubois was the rivaling civil rights leader during the early 20th century. W.E.B. Dubois believed that through political action and education, full-citizenship of African Americans in America would be achieved. At...