Booker T Washington and W. E. B Du Bois offered different strategies for dealing with the problems of poverty and discrimination faced by black Americans at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. By using my knowledge of the documents and my knowledge of the period 1877-1915, I was able to asses the appropriateness of each of the strategies in the historical context in which it was developed. I came to the conclusion that Booker T Washington’s strategy was more appropriate for the time period 1877-1915 then was W. E.
B Du Bois’ strategy. A summarization of Booker T Washington’s strategy presented in The Atlanta Compromise Address or “Document D” would be to say that he wanted all black Americans to learn trades. He wanted them to pass on those skills, and use those skills so their families could have a better life. “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. ”-Document D.
This excerpt from the document basically says that when we are taught a specific trade and teach it to our families, they can in turn be successful and live good lives in the future. Because of you learning this skill and in turn teaching it to your family, they will be better off. A summarization of W. E. B Du Bois strategy can be described as ceaseless agitation stated in “The Niagara Movement”- “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.
What must we do then? We must complain. Yes, plain, blunt complain, ceaseless agitation, unfailing exposure of dishonesty and wrong- this is the ancient, unerring way to liberty, and we must follow it. ”-Document F I disagree with his strategy for the period 1877-1915 for he only thought about a small number of the black race, the top ten percent. He was going to send them to Harvard and some how they were going to become the intelligence for the black race as a whole.
This also appoints only specific figures as a mini government of the black race. Mainly in Booker T Washington’s proposal, it just seems as if he included the whole race as opposed to W. E. B’s proposal pertaining to only a small select few. By looking at the “School Enrollment Graph” in Document A, it seems as if the W. E. B 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.
The rate does rise; showing that after 1915 there would be a much better chance of any percent of Black Americans getting into college. I can also be seen in Document B-“Illiteracy by Race”, that Black people were becoming more and more literate, allowing them to thus go to college. It appears that in the ladder of the time period we are discussing, that there is a much larger opportunity for black Americans to go to college and progress while there, than there is a chance for them to go to go to college in the beginning of the time period being discussed.
Another reason it seems the Booker T Washington’s way is more appropriate is because it worked. By looking at Document C- “Lynchings by Race”, the amounts of black lynchings were becoming more and scarcer. This is perceived by me in a number of ways. First off, black Americans were learning skills now by the way of Booker T, and were not only becoming smarter, but they were becoming more important to other persons.
Their skills were needed by others which not only gave people a reason not to lynch them, but it also introduced many people to more black Americans, thus putting a personal perspective of actually knowing someone. A person would much rather lynch someone that they did not know personally, than someone that they get potatoes from. In Document G, Booker T is praised by T. Thomas Fortune, a black activist and newspaper editor who writes about BTW in the nationally circulated black periodical, “Christian Recorder. He is spoken of as a man whose value is impossible to estimate. His work involving Tuskegee College 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.
This shows that his approach was actually working and this is evidence enough for me to say that I believe by using my knowledge of the documents and my knowledge of the period 1877-1915, I was able to asses the appropriateness of each of the strategies in the historical context in which it was developed. W. E. B just might have been a little before his time with his views. Maybe later when the literacy rate would be higher and more black Americans were being accepted to college, his idea could have worked, but there would be many smart and skilled black Americans all from the concept given by Booker T Washington.
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