Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois: It’s all in the view

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Alexandria Carmon | Staff Writer

Booker T. Washington and W.E.B Dubois were two of the many early pioneers to influence the Civil Rights movement. Both were prominent literary figures in the Black community. Though these two individuals were different in their views of Black progression, they both opened the ideas of how an oppressed society of people should overcome the economic and cultural limitations that society presented them.

However, Dubois’ ideology is stronger and more favored. He did not preach that African Americans should try to prove their worthiness by remaining submissive to Whites like others encouraged.

Washington, a Virginia native, attended and graduated from Hampton Institute, which was one of the first predominantly Black schools in America. Washington was later chosen to head the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Alabama, now known as Tuskegee University. This facility’s primary incentive was to mold Blacks with the proper moral instruction and work skills needed to succeed.

Washington felt that African Americans should display their productive skills and abilities to the dominant society in order for there to be genuine equality. This is interesting because Hampton’s motto is “The Standard of Excellence, An Education for Life” which is exactly the belief Booker T. Washington abided by.

He wanted African Americans to be just as educated as Whites, but he felt that during the process of acceptance, civil rights should be set aside.

Naturally, a philosphy like this was difficult for many African Americans to assimilate to, knowing that their rights in society were not being upheld.

Although Washington was respected, his personal beliefs regarding African Americans achieving equality in society were passive considering the issues that were faced at the time.

Dubois, however, had a stronger approach and advocated to take action right away through education. Although many African Americans admire both, some people agree more with Dubois’ ideology, including freshman psychology major Diara Issac from Long Island, New York.

“I agree with the ideology of Dubois simply because knowledge is power. If you hold both education and civil rights within your hand, it can take us further. Convincing Whites that we are productive members of society wouldn’t work because they don’t care. All they see is color.”

W.E.B. Dubois felt that the success of African Americans should come strictly from education and civil rights. In 1885, Dubois attended Fisk University in Tennessee, where he encountered racism and bigotry in the Jim Crow South. After school, Dubois moved to the North with his universal belief of equal rights for all Blacks.

Christopher Winters, a sophomore criminal justice major from Tustin, California, also agrees with Dubois ideology because he believes we will never have a fair fight without education. “Some people choose to overlook black peoples’ civil rights over others strictly because we aren’t equal.” Dubois’ experience with discrimination and prejudice made him realize that African Americans do not need to rely solely on the assistance of White society to progress.

He wanted African American people to be independent and fight for their own rights instead of trying to please Whites. Dubois wanted the Black community to gain respect from Whites by showing them that they were just as strong.

Dubois’ views are sound, and express how Blacks did not need to seek approval in order to get their message of justice across.

Only through independence, hard work, determination and perseverance was the Black community ever going to see the rise of true equality.


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