A comparison of W.E.B DuBois and Booker T. Washington.

Essay by keefalishHigh School, 12th gradeA, February 2004

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"Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois"

"Self-respect is worth more than lands and houses."

-W.E.B. Du Bois

"The opportunity to earn a dollar in a factory just now is worth infinitely more than the opportunity to spend a dollar in an opera house."

-Booker T. Washington

Two great leaders of the black community in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington. However, they sharply disagreed on strategies for black social and economic progress. Their opposing philosophies can be found in the quotes presented above. Although they both wanted improvement in the quality of life for the black Americans of their time, Washington focused greatly on economic prosperity while DuBois took the more radical stance and strove for complete integration and equality in all spheres of life. Who fostered more change? Was it the radical and revolutionary ideas of DuBois or the overwhelmingly popular but often compromising Washington?

Booker T. Washington was an educator, reformer and one of the most influential black leader of his time.

He preached a philosophy of vocational training, the recognition of racial differences and white appeasement. He urged blacks to tolerate discrimination for the time being and concentrate on economic prosperity for themselves through hard work and vocational training. He believed in education in the crafts, industrial work and farming skills. This, he said, would eventually win the respect of whites and lead to African Americans being fully accepted as citizens and integrated into all areas of society. Washington also stressed the great differences between the races and promoted segregation as a means of maintaining a racial identity. These differences are direct results of his early-life enslavement and modest upbringing.

W.E.B. DuBois, a Harvard educated black intellectual, scholar and political thinker thoroughly disagreed Washington's...