Similarities Between W. E. B. Dubois And Booker T. Washington

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Due to the political, civil, and institutional failures for African Americans during the Reconstruction era, two pioneers posited programs for uplift: W. E. B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington. In Souls of Black Folk, Du Bois argued Washington’s solutions created a triple paradox that encouraged disenfranchisement, self-deprecating pacifism, and academic ignorance. Moreover, DuBois found Washington was misguided by three dangerous half-truths: The South was justified in its treatment of African Americans, higher education was wrong, and uplift was primarily the burden of African Americans. Conversely, Du Bois argued to judge the South with discriminate criticism, which reoriented African American political thought. Furthermore, Du Bois demanded …show more content…

In the first half-truth, Du Bois argued Washington justified the Southern degradational attitudes towards African Americans, whereas Du Bois cited slavery and racial prejudice as two strong reasons Southern attitudes warranted a change for the better through political activism. For the second half-truth, Washington believed the lack of industrial education explained why uplift was slow for African Americans; however, Du Bois believed it was slow because industrial schools could not be instituted without teachers trained through higher education first. Finally, the last half-truth was that uplift was solely the burden of African Americans through manual labor. To correct this half-truth, Du Bois stated, “Unless his striving be not simply seconded, but rather aroused and encouraged, by the initiative of the richer and wiser environing group, he cannot hope for great success.” (Souls of Black Folk, 71) In other words, African American uplift is not simply an African American burden - it is an American burden. Thus, Du Bois refined African American thought through three instilled truths: Southern attitudes and African American pacifism must change, industrial education requires higher education, and African American uplift should be a common goal for all

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