No account the Black history in America is complete without an examination of the rivalry in between Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois, i m sorry in the late 19th to beforehand 20th centuries readjusted the course of the search for equality in American society, and also in the procedure helped give birth to the modern civil civil liberties movement. Though Washington and also Du Bois to be born in the exact same era, both highly achieved scholars and also committed to the reason of civil civil liberties for Black civilization in America, it to be their distinctions in elevator and technique that would have the greatest affect on the future.  


Washington thought Black human being should have financial independence

Born into slavery in Virginia in 1856, Washington’s early on life and education did lot to affect his later thinking. After ~ the Civil battle he operated in a salt mine and also as a domestic for a white family and eventually attended the Hampton Institute, one of the first all-Black schools in America. After completing his education, he started teaching, and in 1881 he to be selected to head the Tuskegee Normal and also Industrial institute in Alabama, a kind of vocational institution that search to give African american the important moral instruction and practical work skills to make them effective in the burgeoning industrial Revolution. 


Washington thought that the was economic independence and also the capacity to present themselves as fertile members of society that would ultimately lead Black people to true equality and that they have to for the time being collection aside any demands for polite rights. These concepts formed the essence of a decided he yielded to a mixed-race audience in ~ the cotton State and also International Exposition in Atlanta in 1895. There and also elsewhere, his principles were readily welcomed by both Black human being who thought in the handy rationality that his approach, and white people who were much more than happy to defer any kind of real conversation of social and also political equality because that Black world to a later on date. The was, however, referred to pejoratively as the “Atlanta Compromise” by its critics. And amongst them to be Du Bois.

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Booker T. Washington at his workdesk in the Tuskegee Institute, 1894. 

Photo: associated Press , via Wikimedia Commons


Born come a totally free Black family, Du Bois an initial experienced bigotry in college

Du Bois to be born in 1868 in an excellent Barrington, Massachusetts, come a free Black family in a comparatively integrated community. That attended the regional schools and also excelled in his studies, eventually graduating together valedictorian that his class. However, as soon as in 1885 he began attending Fisk college in Tennessee, that encountered because that the very first time the open up bigotry and also repression the the Jim crow South, and also the experience had a profound influence on his thinking. Du Bois returned to the phibìc to additional his education, with nothing much less than equal legal rights for black color Americans gift his ultimate goal. As soon as he earn his Ph.D indigenous Harvard university in 1895, he to be the first Black guy to have actually done so, and his dissertation, “The Suppression the the African servant Trade to the United claims of America, 1638–1870,” was one of the very first academic functions on the subject.


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Washington and Du Bois' beliefs clashed

By the early 20th century, Washington and Du Bois to be the 2 most influential Black males in the country. Washington's conciliatory strategy to civil rights had made him adept in ~ fundraising because that his Tuskegee Institute, and for other Black organizations, and had also endeared him come the white establishment, including President Theodore Roosevelt, who regularly consulted him about all matters around Black people. 


On the various other hand, Du Bois had actually by that time end up being the country’s foremost black intellectual, having actually published plenty of influential works on the conditions of black color Americans. In comparison to Washington, Du Bois maintained that education and also civil legal rights were the only way to equality and that conceding their quest would simply serve come reinforce the id of Black civilization as second-class citizens. Adhering to a collection of posts in i beg your pardon the two men expounded on their ideologies, their differences finally involved a head when, in 1903, Du Bois published a job-related titled The Souls of black color Folks, in i beg your pardon he straight criticized Washington and his approach and also went ~ above to demand full civil civil liberties for black people. 

More than just deepening the an individual dislike between Washington and also Du Bois, this ideology system rift would with time prove come be among the most important in the history of the struggle for polite rights. Believing that political action and agitation were the only means to attain equality, in 1905 Du Bois and also other black intellectuals founded a political group referred to as Niagara, i m sorry was dedicated to the cause. Though the team eventually dissolved a few years later, in 1909 numerous of its members and also many the its intends were incorporated into a new organization — the national Association for the advance of Colored civilization (NAACP). Because that the following 25 years, Du Bois would serve as its manager of publicity, and the editor the its journal, Crisis, which became the mouthpiece for the organization, for Du Bois and for black color America in general.

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READ MORE: How W.E.B. Du Bois Helped develop the NAACP

When president Woodrow Wilson assumed office in 1913, he immediately segregated the commonwealth government, and also Washington subsequently lost the political affect he had took pleasure in for the vault decade. Washington died in Tuskegee, Alabama, ~ above November 14, 1915.

Du Bois eventually break-up from the NAACP, however he ongoing to champion the cause of civil civil liberties for both afri Americans and the afri diaspora about the world. ~ joining the American Communist Party in 1961, Du Bois repatriated come Ghana and also became a nature citizen. He died in Ghana on respectable 27, 1963, at the age of 95. Martin Luther King Jr. Led the march on Washington the following day.