W. E. B. Du Bois
Education As A Tool To Eradicate Racial Segregation In The Souls Of Black Folk By W. E. B. Du Bois
The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois is an embodiment of classic American literature that persists in exerting its influence upon the contemporary world. It has been recognized as an idea changing work in sociology and forms a cornerstone of African American literature. The book constitutes of fourteen chapters that serve to epitomize the influence of racism on the American society during the beginning of the twentieth century. As an African American individual, Du Bois draws from his own experiences towards efficiently utilizing the elements of ethos, pathos, and logos. The South African revolutionary Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” The validity of the claim above is perhaps best exemplified via the thirteenth chapter of Du Bois’ The Souls of Black Folk, namely “Of the Coming of John.” This chapter primarily serves to highlight the potential of education in eradicating the veil of racial segregation, further identifying miscellaneous repercussions associated with such development.
“Of the Coming of John” juxtaposes the experiences of a Black man with that of a White man, serving to promulgate an omnipotent view of racial segregation that persisted in the wake of slavery’s abolishment during the 1800s. Apart from being namesakes and hailing from the same place of origin, both the Black and White John had little in common. While John (Black) is depicted as being a humble individual who embodies humility and intelligence, John (White) is portrayed as a privileged man who remains irate, impatient, and ignorant. The apparent contrast between both these characters exemplifies the existence of a veil governed via social, economic, and racial dynamics, essentially serving to promulgate cultural stratification and racism. As Dubois says “To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships”. The Black man pursues education by sacrificing everything else in his life, on the other hand, the White John attains education for being born in a privileged environment. The illustration as mentioned earlier is suggestive of privileged upbringing being the primary factor allowing for numerous individuals to be educated at elite academic institutions. Black John, upon having returned home, strives to contribute towards educating his community and in the process giving back what he had learned, in an attempt to educate the underprivileged. Nonetheless, his efforts are met with criticism as he is eventually alienated by his neighbors, as well as the community as a whole; “The people moved uneasily in their seats as John rose to reply… he spoke of the rise of charity and popular education… the age, he said, demanded new ideas… A painful hush skied that crowded mass. Little had they understood of what he said, for he spoke an unknown tongue”. Drawing from the discussions above, it becomes evident that education can potentially aid in achieving the maximal potential of an individual in particular, and the society in general, nonetheless, such transformations are associated with specific adverse outcomes as illustrated in the chapter.
Education as a tool for socioeconomic mobility remains a recurring theme throughout The Souls of Black Folk, best exemplified in the chapter “Of the Coming of John”. Du Bois strives to place a particular emphasis on the education of African-American individuals and its associated positive outcomes. By empowering themselves through education, the African American individuals can potentially eradicate the existence of the veil and uplift their social standing. The White men of the American nation had persistently oppressed the African American community via the institution of slavery. According to DuBois “The opposition of Negro education in the South was at first bitter, and showed itself in ashes, insult, and blood; for the South believed an educated Negro to be a dangerous Negro”. This caused a prolonged state of submission, the African American individuals lost their ability to achieve their maximal potential. The White men sought to suppress the Black individuals by suppressing their education, “John, this school is closed. You children can go home and get to work. The white people of Altamaha are not spending their money on black folks to have their heads crammed with impudence and lies”. “Of the Coming of John” identifies education as the primary means of social mobility and character development of the individuals from African American community. Furthermore, the chapter highlights the complex dynamics of such reforms for the African Americans who had minimal opportunity upon completion of education and hence failed at realizing its associated merits.
The chapter “Of the Coming of John” serves to elucidate how little value was placed in the lives of Black men and women, and how the dominant White class constantly sought to suppress them constantly. Moreover, lack of proper education had left such individuals unaware of their predicament and susceptible to be exploited by others. Such dynamics allow for the existence of pseudo-freedom wherein the society as a whole resists cultural, social, and economic integration. Black John, upon his return back home, realizes the existence of the state above of quasi-freedom, “He had left his queer thought-world and come back to a world of motion and of men. He looked now for the first time sharply about him, and wondered he had seen so little before, He grew slowly to feel almost for the first time the Veil that lay between him and the white world; he first noticed now the oppression that had not seemed oppression before”. It is imperative to recognize that Black John can draw upon the realization as mentioned earlier owing to his enhanced education. As such, it becomes evident Du Bois identifies education as the prominent methodology to racially uplift one’s economic and social class.
One of the most prominent and recurring themes in Du Bois’ The Souls of Black Folk remains education. “On the Coming of John” exemplifies various dynamics associated with enhanced educational background, and highlights its associated positive as well as negative outcomes. By eliciting an apparent contrast between Black and White Johns, Du Bois succeeds at effectively projecting the contradiction in the lives of White and Black Americans. Furthermore, the transformation in the character of Black John testifies to the potential of education in redefining individual lives. Additionally, Du Bois illustrates many repercussions associated with education, namely alienation, lack of adequate opportunities, depression, etc. Drawing from the analysis, it can be definitively stated that “Of the Coming of John” evidently embodies numerous elements of education, portrayed efficiently by many aspects of narrative fiction as a point of view, and within both characterization and dramatic structure.
How W.E.B. Dubois Revolutionized Health Disparities Research In Public Health
The life and career of W.E.B Dubois was vastly multi-faceted and prolific, and his scope of talents and global citizenship encompasses various disciplines. “While his contributions to civil rights, sociology, history, African American Studies and Urban studies are universally recognized, his legacy in public health and epidemiology is not as widely acknowledged by contemporary health researchers.” This paper will provide an overview of W.E.B Dubois’s career and how his research and ideologies have benefited public health, epidemiology and the African American community. I will also illustrate how the political, socioeconomic, environmental and technological climate facilitated the adaption of Dubois’s values. Next, I will examine W.E.B Dubois’s personal philosophies as well as the adversities he overcame. Lastly, I will discuss the effects of W.E.B Dubois’s work and how his contributions benefitted the African American community and Public Health as a collective.
William Edward Burghardt Dubois was born February 23, 1868 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. His parents were both of mixed heritage and were free people of color. During this time in history, many African Americans were not fortunate to go to school and get an education. Fortunately, for Dubois he had the opportunity to go to school with the white children and had access to a quality education. It wasn’t until much later in life when he down south to Nashville, TN.in 1885 to attend Fisk University that he first encountered racism firsthand. Seeing how African Americans were treated in the south sparked a fire in W.E.B Dubois and he began to stand up for the rights of African Americans. A devoted scholar, W.E.B Dubois received his first degree from Fisk University, and in 1895 became the first African American to graduate with a Doctorates degree from Harvard University. After completing school in America, Dubois studied abroad in Berlin, Germany. While in Europe, he perceived the different beliefs regarding how to treat others in society, and W.E.B Dubois brought these ideologies back to the US. W.E.B Dubois went on to publish “The Philadelphia Negro” and “The Souls of Black Folk”. One of the issues that propelled Dubois to the public eye, was his opposing viewpoints with Booker T. Washington regarding the Atlanta Compromise. Dubois believed in equal rights, and was not willing to compromise his standards. Another big accomplishment in W.E.B Dubois’s life was that he helped to cofound the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). W.E.B Dubois spent the remainder of his life fighting for civil rights and ironically died one day before the historic “I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King Jr. W.E.B Dubois was one of the great intellectuals of the 20th century and his contributions to civil rights, sociology and public health will forever be commemorated by humanity.
The Signs of the Times
W.E.B Dubois lived a very long abundant life spanning over nine decades. For the purpose of this paper, this section will predominately focus on the Progressive Era and how the shifting consciousness of America influenced the great mind of W.E.B Dubois. The Progressive Era spanned from the 1890s to the 1920s and ushered in transformative reform. As the 20th century emerged, America had a booming economy, had just experienced victory in the Spanish American War, and enjoyed a host of new inventions such as the telephone and the lightbulb. A large number of American citizens were extremely optimistic about the future. So much so that the period between 1900 and 1910 was often referred to as the “Age of Optimism”. But an increasing number of Americans began to focus on the problems that the new industrial age presented. Problems that included corporate monopolies, mistreatment of laborers, and overcrowding in cities. Citizens who sought reform to these issues were called “Progressives” and historians now refer to the period between the turn of the century and the outbreak of World War I as the Progressive Era. The next sections will expound on the political, socioeconomic, environmental and technological advancements that ensued during this age.
In the late 1800’s the United States experienced rapid industrial growth. But this period of growth included corruption and inequality. Big businesses often used their growing profits and power to destroy competitors and formed monopolies in the railroad, steel, coal and oil industries. Corrupt city leaders called bosses accepted bribes and gave contracts and jobs to their political allies. The reform movement of progressivism arose to combat the greed, corruption and other problems that industrialization had created. Progressives most of whom came from middle class, wanted to improve the lives of the poor living in America’s growing slums. Progressives succeeded in creating a public outcry against government corruption. Theodore Roosevelt was America’s first progressive president, between 1901 and 1909 Roosevelt used his position to break up many trust, these were huge combinations of companies that used their economic power to take advantage of their competitors and workers. Roosevelt’s square deal was designed to give all Americans an equal chance to succeed. Roosevelt created the Pure Food and Drug Act to protect consumers and he established the National Park system to conserve the environment. Progressives also hoped to win the right for women to vote. Finally under President Woodrow Wilson the 19th Amendment was passed allowing women the right to vote.
Despite all of the improvements mentioned previously, many people felt left behind, America’s minority populations and new immigrants continued to face deep prejudice segregation, and violence. While Progressive activist succeeded in reducing corruption, and improved worker and food safety, and increased the rights of women, widespread racial injustice and anti-immigration sentiment remained part of American society. Progressives aimed to improve American society by restoring equal economic opportunities and correcting social injustice. The industrialization of the new workforce made workers less valuable. Workers received low wages, worked under hazardous conditions, and worked very long hours. Child labor was also a very common practice. Working conditions in mines and factories were harsh and dangerous. As people flooded into cities in search of work, the problems of crowded housing and poor sanitation increased.
The heavy industrialization and urbanization of America produced a host of environmental issues. Natural resources were disappearing rapidly and the state of the environment was being severely compromised. The Progressive Era embraced new ideologies regarding the environment and nature conservation. One of the most influential conservationist of this time was President Theodore Roosevelt. “President Teddy Roosevelt was an enthusiastic conservationist, he created wildlife reserves and he led the movement to establish the United States Forestry Service in 1905 to ban the sale of federal wilderness”.
The technological advancements during the Progressive Era were nothing short of remarkable and life altering. The development of the lightbulb, the automobile, the airplane and the telephone are just a few of the notable inventions of this time. Society was constantly striving to improve technology and upward mobility. Many people left rural areas or their homes in their native countries to work in the new factories in America’s cities. Large corporations spread across the country and the industrialization and urbanization of America transformed and shaped our modern ideology of city life.
How W.E.B Dubois’s Principles Prompted His Work
All of the aforementioned advancements in society helped shape the progressive thinking of W.E.B Dubois. He was a firm believer of equal rights, and I believe this was the foundation that characterized all of his works in Public Health, Sociology, and Civil Rights. Dubois most notably is recognized for his opposing viewpoints regarding Booker T. Washington’s Atlanta Compromise. The Atlanta Compromise sacrificed Black Americans being in leadership positions, in order to get steady work. Dubois in contrast stood for full equality, regardless of race, color, or creed.
How W.E.B Dubois Overcame Adversity
W.E.B Dubois was greatly impacted by the tragic death of his newborn son Burghardt, and the harsh racism, discrimination and severe prejudice he experienced during his time in Tennessee and while living in Atlanta, Georgia. Dubois’s first born child died as an infant as a result of diphtheria. None of the white physicians would see the infant, and Dubois unfortunately was unable to get in contact with one of the three black doctors in Atlanta in time to save the child’s life. I believe that overcoming the untimely death of his son left a profound impact that followed him the rest of his lifetime. Blacks do not die, because they are biologically inferior to whites, they die because they are lack wealth and accessibility to the same resources as whites.
How W.E.B Dubois’s Contributions Impacted the African American Community and Public Health
“W.E.B. Dubois, was an African-American writer, teacher, sociologist and activist whose work transformed the way that the lives of black citizens were seen in American society. DuBois was an early champion of using data to solve social issues for the black community.” Dubois challenged scientist to reevaluate dangerous and erroneous eugenic principles in favor of investigating the actual socioeconomic factors that undermine public health.
Why W.E.B Dubois’s Contributions to Public Health Were So Impactful During This Era
Dubois used his logic and intellect to challenge the popular sentiments of the time. Eugenics and biological racial inferiority complexes were the general consensus. Dubois challenged racist biological inferiority rhetoric by analyzing the social constructs that foster health disparities such as socioeconomic factors that threaten the lives and health of African Americans. “In the late 19th and early 20th century the dominant medical paradigm attributed any observed racial difference in health to innate biological differences between racial groups”. “In contrast, Dubois saw racial differences in health as reflecting differences in social advancements and vastly different conditions under which blacks and whites lived. He argued that although the causes of racial differences in health were multi-factorial, they were nonetheless primarily social.”
Final Outcome of W.E.B Dubois’s Contribution to African American Community and Public Health
W.E.B. Dubois contributions to sociology and public health are invaluable and his impactful philosophies have altered societies perception of race and health disparities. “During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Black and White differences in mortality and morbidity were largely attributed to notions of biological racial inferiority. Efforts by Dubois to challenge these predominant notions resulted in the systematic empirical investigation of social factors contributing to Black health risk and health disparities”. Although health disparities amongst blacks is still common today, we can acknowledge the role Dubois played in exposing the socioeconomic conditions that promote health disparities amongst minorities and the disenfranchised.
Dubois was a freedom fighter who fought for African Americans to be viewed equally biologically, socially, and politically. W.E.B Dubois is a visionary, who’s progressive philosophies will continue to influence the souls of black of folks and all folks through his legacy.
Biography of William Edward Burghardt DuBois
W.E.B. DuBois was born in Great Barrington Massachusetts 1868. He graduated from Barrington Massachusetts high school in 1884. Soon after that, DuBois went to college in Cambridge Massachusetts until 1892 when he moved to Germany to receive more education. Afterwards he taught in Ohio. It was here that he met his wife and they got married in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Afterwards he studied more in Philadelphia as well as taught in Atlanta. He was then convinced to teach summer school at Tuskegee Alabama in 1903 once. In 1903 he left Atlanta to join the NAACP in New York where he stayed for a while. He visited Liberia in 1923 as well as the Soviet Union in 1926 for conferences. Once again he returned to Atlanta University to serve as the chair of the Sociology department in 1934 for ten years until 1944 when he went back to the NAACP. In 1958, after a brief period when he wasn’t allowed to travel with his passport, DuBois traveled to the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, China, and Moscow and then returned home. In 1961 He lived in Ghana where he eventually became a citizen until his death in 1963.
After DuBois graduated from high school he received scholarships through the mentorship and the help of his principal, Frank Hosmer, allowing him to go to the prestigious Fisk University. At Fisk he learned about African culture in America which is said to have helped him develop his sense of cultural pride. He also had experiences teaching during the summers of 1886-1887 at Tuskegee. After his schooling at Fisk, applied to Harverd and got his BA in 1890, his MA in 1891, and his PhD in 1895 in history. During this time DuBois became good friends with Albert Bushnell Hart and Wiliam James, who became his professional mentors as well. Dubois continued his education in Germany at Friedrich-Wilhelm III Universitat, but unfortunately was not able to complete his economics degree formally there due to residency issues.
DuBois initially believed in the initiation of black nationalism, but then slowly gravitated to equal education and treatment for all as well returning to his theories on black national nationalism later on in his life. He stated that he wanted to “make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows….’. Much of his life he also argued about issues with White supremacy, European imperialism, and the continuing loss of dignity for Africans. DuBois wanted to prepare African Americans to be ready for when segregation was no more, for he saw that coming in the future. As stated by Johnson “DuBois called upon Blacks to take advantage of every opportunity to be the intellectual and moral equals of whites so that when the walls of segregation finally came down, blacks would be in a position to compete successfully for positions throughout the social system. DuBois, a humanist, believed that education must be more complex than a simplistic focus only on societal and individual economic interests”.
W.E.B. DuBois was, and still is, a very monumental person to learn about in school. One of DuBois’s biggest accomplishments was the study he conducted in 1899, that was titled The Philadelphia Negro. He conducted this study after accepting a position at the University of Pennsylvania (History.com Editors, 2009). His study revolved around Philadelphia’s Seventh Ward, which was an area that was largely inhabited by African Americans. He mapped out the Seventh Ward and documented familial and work structures by going door-to-door and interviewing people in the area. The study is considered one of the earliest forms of statistical work that was used for sociological purposes. The study concluded the biggest challenges for the African American community were poverty, crime, lack of education, and lack of trust to people outside the community. DuBois also founded and led the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, better known as the NAACP.
DuBois was a large advocate for black civil rights, which is closely related to the work of social workers. His ultimate goal was to gain equal rights for everyone, especially the black community, just as a social worker tries to do. He impacted the social work profession in many ways. He showed how much of a change can occur when someone is passionate and really fights for what they want. He also exemplified what a social worker should be like and how to go about taking action for the greater good of people. When it comes to society, he had a major impact. He believed everyone should be treated equal, regardless of the color of their skin. He empowered those in the African American community by giving them a voice and showing them they can do anything regardless of the color of their skin. “As a means to uplift the Black community from these imposed conditions, DuBois advocated for an education grounded in Black culture and community. Believing higher education was the foundation of the American educational system, on which to create a passionate intellectual army of activists to advance the Black community, DuBois sought to uplift the Black race through the education and advancement of men and women highly trained in the cultural, political, and social needs of the Black community”.
W.E.B. DuBois fought to achieve equal rights for everyone in the black community, especially in the educational system. Racial injustice is still an issue faced today, but it is not as severe as it was many years ago. Today, people of color have a better opportunity to obtain a quality education. Thanks to the help of DuBois, and many others, the educational system is not as discriminatory as it used to be. The educational system is a lot more diverse and accepting of people of color. If people continue to be advocates like DuBois and many other people, the world would see a lot more positive change.
Relevance Of W.E.B. Dubois’ Theories In Contemporary Society
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was a Black American sociologist who prioritised the matter of race and racism unlike other traditional sociologists during and prior to his time. Dubois focused on the ‘double consciousness’; what it meant to be black and American and the experiences of black Americans. Du Bois’ theories of oppression on not only Black Americans but Black individuals in society in general can still be considered relevant in contemporary society. As written by Rabaka “Du Bois’ discourse can be said to prefigure not only post humanist, post structuralist and postmodernist thought, but also several thought-traditions to contemporary Africana studies”. This indicates that Du Bois’ writing was ahead of its time, hinting at the precarious positions Black individuals are often placed in in contemporary society due to class conflicts. This essay will use educational disparity and crime in contemporary times to underpin why Du Bois’ theories are relevant today.
Du Bois heavily accounts for the education of black individuals in society to overcome the degradation and ignorance forced upon Black Americans during slavery. He speaks of the three elements which would bring emancipation to black individuals. “The right to vote, civic equality, the education of youth according to ability”. This is relevant in today’s society as it often seems that inequality amongst education in accordance to race and class has been eradicated, however, it is reiterated in contemporary research on higher education that Black individuals are still facing unequal access to higher education and how in comparison to white individuals, black students still make up a minority of the students enrolled in universities. The findings suggest “Nearly half of Whites (47%) between the ages of 18 and 24, but only 40% of Blacks and 32% of Latinas/os, were enrolled in college in 2002”. This is similarly reflected in the recent findings of how re-segregation in contemporary schools is more subtle and engrained through institutional racism despite the Brown V. Board of Education in 1954: “The critique of American racism in education speaks to deeply embedded structures and processes that manifest inequality through social and economic conditions that manifest themselves as disparities in access, opportunities, resources and power”. This means the quality of education still remains unequal in areas of high deprivation which are predominantly inhabited by ethnic minorities. As Cornell West argues, “Wealth inequality tips the balance against fair opportunity in education, employment, and other crucial life-chances”. This illustrates that black individuals are still subject to institutional racism, poverty, and unequal life chances; meaning ignorance is still forced upon them and inequality persists.
Du Bois draws on Marx’s ideas on the oppressive nature of Capitalism and how this may disproportionately affect individuals from lower socioeconomic groups meaning a majority of individuals from ethnic minority backgrounds. This ties in with Du Bois’ ideas of the ‘talented tenth’, if black individuals have limited and restricted access to higher education, how can we build a society with black teachers, leaders and scholars that can enlighten black pupils and therefore, as Du Bois desired, bring black individuals to self-realisation of their culture and history. Du Bois’ ideas centralised the favouring of more academic education for black individuals as opposed to technical education as Du Bois believed technical education can create “artisans but not, in nature, men” . As Marx argued, “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles”. Therefore, the ongoing relevance of W.E.B Du Bois’ theory embeds itself in the effects of Capitalism on particularly black individuals in society today. For example, a capitalist society would impose instant gratification on individuals from lower social backgrounds, therefore education would often be avoided as it would seem as too much of a long-term investment and commitment. Instead, low-skill and high manual labour jobs would be adopted and as Du Bois argued, ‘technical education’ to obtain the basic necessities for living – maintaining class inequalities and income disparities. However, as Du Bois had claimed, salvation would not come from employment and jobs – instead, he saw (academic) education as the route to full emancipation of Black People as this would enable self-realisation. Therefore, it could be confirmed that W.E.B Du Bois’ ideas still hold relevance today – if a high proportion of Black Youth attend lower quality schools, the inequality within a capitalist society will only be reproduced to maintain Black individuals low in the social hierarchy; denying them the freedom of self-realisation and control over their social mobility and social inclusion, making them second-class citizens with reduced rights, similar to the position of Black individuals during the 19th century. However, Du Bois’ relevance today could be discounts as it could be argued the education levels of black in comparison to white individuals, and life opportunities do not differ highly since the illegalisation of segregated schooling of black and white pupils through the Brown decision in 1954, as of today, it is illegal to deny anybody access to education due to their race. However, as it is claimed in ‘The journal of Negro Education’ re-segregation often takes place through “alternatives to public schools” like private schooling, for those who can afford it. Often, once again, leaving black pupils with the lower-quality education and reproducing class inequality.
The relevance of W.E.B Du Bois’ writing today exemplifies itself in his acknowledgement of Capitalism and how the existing notion of class exploitation was prevalent during the slave trade. Du Bois establishes the idea that regardless of race, in any society, anywhere in the world, the exploitation and oppression of the lower social class by the upper and middle-class “is a temptation which human nature seldom has withstood and seldom will withstand”. Arguably, Capitalism influenced the slave trade, as Robinson and Kelley argue “slaves, performed the necessary physical labour that enabled the upwardly mobile settlers of Madeira to develop a lifestyle, derived from the tradition of the continental nobility”. In the modern day, traditional forms of slavery have embedded themselves in various elements of our society, and as Du Bois predicted, the temptation of exploiting the vulnerable and less powerful in our society still operates till current day. This is implicitly done through the criminal justice system and prisons, and the conflicting race and class relations between the police and individuals from working-classes and in particular, black individuals. For example, the population of America is less than 5 percent of the world’s population, however the prison population makes up 20 percent of the world’s entire prison population, this mass incarceration towards the end of the 20th century attracted many corporations which began privatising prisons and using prisoners as labourers, often for no pay or close to no pay. As Angela Davis argues (2003) “The prison has become a black hole into which the detritus of contemporary capitalism is deposited.” The growth of cheap and free labour destined for black prisoners, who distinctively made up 30% of the prison population at the time of Davis’ writing, and now according to the NAACP Criminal Justice Fact Sheet, 34% of the prison population in 2014 was made up of African Americans in comparison to the disproportionate 12% in general society. Therefore, it is clear to identify that the people who are exploited within such organisations are overwhelmingly African Americans who are subjected to free labour and then reduced ‘civic rights’ even after incarceration; indicating that the prison system may have replaced conventional slavery, which means black individuals are yet to be emancipated completely – making Du Bois’ writing relevant.
Du Bois’ consideration of Capitalism and civic rights for African Americans are not exclusive just for Americans, the unjust treatment of Black people by the authorities, in particular the police, extends to the UK. Cases like Stephen Lawrence’s wrongful portrayal in the media like the ‘Daily Mail’, the lack of urgency when dealing with the murder of Lawrence and the discriminatory assumptions of the police all suggest the political and social freedom of Black people is subject to repression in modern day, and Black people are often in jeopardy for being black, and being seen through the lenses of essentialism which may be the cause of 29 in every 1,000 black people being stopped and searched in comparison to 4 in every 1,000 for white people as the government reports on stop and searches suggest. Therefore the relevance of Du Bois’ ideas and theories remain central to current social issues.
W.E.B Du Bois’ writing still holds relevance in contemporary society. The political and social issues black individuals face are less obvious and more implicit than the physical enslavement of black individuals who were denied human rights and simply commodified during the slave trade. Yet the engrained institutional racial conflicts echo similar issues black individuals were experiencing during Du Bois’ lifetime; the unequal education, subject to captivity, tensions between the state and the individual and white domination means Du Bois’ writing still outlines current affairs. As Cornell West argues, “Wealth inequality tips the balance against fair opportunity in education, employment, and other crucial life-chances.”
W.E.B. Du Bois And His Contributions To Sociology
W.E.B Du Bois is one of the renowned scholars in the field of history, civil rights activism and above all, sociology. There is an interesting story of his life, deep-rooted in his well-spent years of success in the career of sociology. W.E.B Du Bois won several honors in the United States and other countries since the 1900s. His memory still lives at the University of Pennsylvania and Hampton University where dormitories are named after him. His life was marked with achievements that left him an unending legacy that would follow him to his grave even after August 1963. A sociologist’s story cannot be deemed complete if the life is not described in stages accompanied by biography to their work and contributions in their careers. This paper, therefore, discusses this sociologist, presenting his early life and education, choice of his scientific career, contribution to sociology and his influence, and the implication of his work in the contemporary society.
Rooting and Growth of the Great Sociologist W.E.B Du Bois
In Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Alfred and Mary Silvina Burghardt gave birth to William Edward Burghardt on February 23, 1868. His father, Alfred Du Bois was born in Haiti but immigrated to the United States in 1860 and later married Mary Silvina. When W.E.B Du Bois was just 2 years old, his father divorced Mary Silvina. She went back to her parents’ house where she brought him up with support from neighbors and brothers. His mother died of a stroke in 1885 the same year W.E.B Du Bois joined college. In the integrated local public school where whites attended, Du Bois received good treatment and pulled through his early childhood education amidst struggles.
Approaching adulthood, he started writing about racism. The teachers noticed his impressive skills and intellect both in and out of the classroom, and they motivated him to write even more. He figured out that he could use the skill to fight for the rights of African Americans. He did not know this skill would lead him to become a remarkable Civil rights activist in the United States. He graduated from Searles High School and joined a college in Nashville, Fisk University until 1888. Historically, Blacks mainly attended this institution and was hence known as a college for blacks. Du Bois received help from the First Congregational Church of Great Barrington and neighbors in order to pay for college fees.
His life at Fisk College and later in Harvard University was filled with racial segregation enforced through Jim Crow Laws in the Southern United States. For instance, during his time in school, Black voting was not allowed and Harvard did not offer degrees to African Americans, specifically, graduates from Fisk University. Du Bois attained his second bachelor’s degree in history from Harvard in 1890. While he was at Harvard, his passion for sociology grew under the influence of a famous American Philosopher, William James who was then his professor. He landed a scholarship in 1891 to Harvard Sociology graduate school where he studied sociology. During his three year stay at Harvard, he borrowed money from his friends and received gifts from church to pay for his tuition fees. He later traveled to Berlin, Germany in 1892 where he met social scientists such as Heinrich Treitschke and Gustav Schmoller. In 1985, he became the first African American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University.
How W.E.B Du Bois Landed in Sociology
While in Germany, he discovered something within himself, which he had never experienced in the United States. He realized that people could be equal despite their skin color. His interaction with the Germans and the way they treated him as their equal elevated his self-belief and aggravated his thirst for more knowledge about social life. His discovery in Germany was that he was “…just a man of the somewhat privileged student rank…” whom the German white folks were glad to meet and walk the world. On the contrary, the racial segregation he faced in the South and at Harvard was a blow to his belief in life. These two distinct events caused him more quest to find his inner-self and understand life in depth.
In 1894, when he started his work at Wilberforce University in Ohio, he met Alexander Crummell, an African nationalist and an ordained Episcopal priest who laid the foundation of Pan-Africanism. Crummell had also lectured about American slavery in 1848 in England. He believed morality and ideas are critical for social change. The thinking of Crummell influenced Du Bois to great extent and prompted more thirst for his sociological knowledge. Du Bois later moved to the University of Pennsylvania in 1896 where he involved himself with further studies in sociological research. This research became the basis for his “The Philadelphia Negro” which he published three years later.
As history has it, his life was a misery in the hands of poverty, social segregation and oppressive laws, which were created to undermine the non-white races. As a child who grew up as an orphan and lived amongst the white population as a minority, Du Bois’ urge to understand life in depth pushed him to the limits and left him in leaning onto sociology and other social science-related fields. His experience in a society where racial and social segregation was pivoted by state laws stirred his thirst for ‘educated rebellion’. He knew the only way to destroy these vices was through education. Therefore, he purposed to reach the highest spot of social knowledge from where he could approach and reproach the state and society to do away with these social evils.
His career was influenced greatly by the life he experienced as a child, in the South and at the universities he attended. His mentors and fellow scholars also contributed to his choice of career. Furthermore, sometimes we do not choose our careers. It just falls from our interests and at times depends on the environment around which we live in. This happened to Du Bois, and he found pleasure in whatever he did, from sensitizing people on the rights of African Americans, the nuclear disarmament and his sympathy fight against capitalism. His selfless nature came from his childhood and college life experience.
Du Bois’ mark on Sociology and the Impact on Society
W.E.B Du Bois is well known to set a foundation for the study of sociology by publishing several books on racism and oppression. His name can be adjoined to those of Karl Marx, Max Webber, and Emile Durkheim, in the list of founders of the discipline of sociology. For instance, his contributions to sociology through the development of theories of structural racism, double consciousness, and class oppression left a mark that sociologists have, and will always appreciate. His “The Philadelphia Negro”, a sociological case study on the black community in America was classified among the earliest examples of sociology as a social science. This work was his first publication, published in 1899. He combined his sociological research that he had conducted while in the University of Pennsylvania as an assistant sociologist with census data and came up with graphs that upon interpretation he showed a relationship between racism and the livelihood of people. This study concluded that racism was structural in nature and that it was a social problem affecting African Americans in most cases.
In 1903, his work “The Souls of Black Folk” was published. This was a representation of Du Bois’ own life from childhood experience. This text focused on Du Bois’ life amongst the white people to bring out the consequence of racism on individuals’ psychosocial lives. His use of “veil” and “double consciousness” concepts helped him to illustrate how black people developed a view of the world different from their white counterparts owing to the concept of racism, which forces them to believe in a falsified experience and hence take a different path of social interaction. He associates the “veil” to the black skin by remembering an incidence in his elementary school where a white girl had declined to receive his greeting card. He expressed that this experience made him believe that he was different from the white counterparts. The veil according to him prevented the blacks from perceiving their ability in the right measure and attitude.
He was against capitalism because he saw it as the origin of racism and social stratification. In the ‘Black Reconstruction in America’, a work of his published in 1935 read about class-consciousness where he explained that capitalism leads to class division and racism. He explained that capitalism drifted economic benefits towards one race and left the others suffering. As a result, class divisions were created, whereby the capitalists occupied the top level of the ladder while the rest of the society worked and suffered for the capitalists. He was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909. Du Bois was a pioneer of civil rights and his influential work on the context of slavery and racial discrimination laid the foundation of African American rights provision. One year after his death, the United States Civil Rights Act embodied several of the social reforms that he fought for in his life.
W.E.B Du Bois was born in a slightly disoriented and poor background. He observed all the miseries that the black community was subjected to in the United States. He grew up as a poor child and fought his way through the education system despite the difficulties. The hardships he went through softened his heart and when he achieved his academic honors, he used it to fight for the rights of the less privileged in the society. He was a great sociologist who before his death had laid a foundation for future sociologists, achieved great honors. He left a legacy for himself by the time he died in 1963.
Comparing and Contrasting the Ideologies of Booker T. Washington and W.e.b Du Bois
Immediately following the Civil War, African Americans were faced with great discrimination and suffering. The newly free slaves were faced with the problem of making their stance in society that once looked at them as nothing more than property. During this period, two men became leaders of two different ideas. Booker T. Washington of Virginia and William Edward Burghardt DuBois of Massachusetts, held two very different approaches regarding the best way for African Americans to improve their situations. While their methods may have differed, both of these men had a common goal in the uplift of the black community.
Booker T Washington was among the most important African-American leaders of his time. Born in Franklin County, Virginia in the mid-1850s, spent his early childhood in slavery. After growing up, Washington felt that a formal education was the best way to improve his living standards. Because of segregation, the availability of education for blacks in was fairly limited. In response, Washington traveled to Hampton Institute where he took industrial education. At Hampton, he focused on industrial or practical working skills as opposed to the liberal arts. Because of his experiences at Hampton, Washington went on to become an educator as well as a supporter of industrial education, founding the Tuskegee Normal and Agricultural Institute. He advocated African-American peoples advancement through learning practical skills, particularly trades and agricultural skills, rather than through university education and voting rights. He believed that African-Americans had to help themselves before whites would help them, and he thought that African-American entrepreneurship in the learning of practical skills would enhance the solidarity of their community. Rather than attacking Jim Crow head on, he believed that if African-Americans helped themselves, they would eventually advance politically and achieve civil rights. Born in 1868 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, W. E. B. DuBois grew up both free and in the North. He did not experience the harsh conditions of slavery or of southern prejudice. He grew up in a mainly white environment, attended Fisk University as an undergraduate, was the first African-American person to ever earn a doctoral degree from Harvard, and was one of the founders of the national Association for the advancement of colored people. DuBois demonstrated his political beliefs through his involvement in the Niagara Movement, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and served as editor of The Crisis, a black political magazine. He felt that blacks should educate themselves in the liberal tradition, just as whites. DuBois approach was received well by other northern freemen. Different from Booker T. Washington, he wanted African-Americans to enjoy civil rights and voting rights equal with whites in a more immediate way than what Washington called for. Du Bois thought that the African-American elite were critical in bringing about African-American equality, so Du Bois advocated advanced to education for African-Americans and not just the work related skills.
One of the biggest disagreements in ideas between the two was over the issue of black suffrage. In terms of voting, DuBois believed that campaigning for the ballot was necessary, but opposed giving the vote to the uneducated blacks. He believed that economic gains were not safe unless there was political power to protect them. Washington, on the other hand, felt that DuBois did more harm than good and served only to irritate southern whites. While there were many points of disagreement between Washington and DuBois, there were similarities in their ideas as well. Both worked against lynching and opposed racially motivated violence. While Washington may have stressed industrial education over liberal arts, he did believe that liberal arts were beneficial. Though both men can be criticized on various aspects of their approaches, both DuBois and Washington were key figures in the advancement of African Americans. Washington and DuBois were both in pursuit of racial equality, but had different ideas on how to reach it. Washington believed in economic equality, then political and social equality. While it was important to build economic stability within the African American community, voting rights were necessary to achieve political and social equality. DuBois plan encouraged political and social equality, which was essential at the time. The founding of the NAACP helped pass important laws during the movement.
Although Washington’s plan made sense and was important, W.E.B. Ideas were true for many African Americans who felt the need for equal rights between races.
W.e.b. Dubois: Impacting the Harlem Renaissance Through Words
The Harlem Renaissance was a time of mass creativity within the black community in the Harlem neighborhood in New York. Their creative abilities shown through many ways such as spoken word and poetry, writing, artistry, and music. The time period also held some great intellectuals and writers such as W.E.B. DuBois. DuBois used his words throughout the Harlem Renaissance to help the African-American people separate from the mainly white city and find themselves as a people through their passions and arts. Through his work as a speaker for the black community as well as his writing capturing the African-American experience, W.E.B. DuBois influenced the Harlem Renaissance with his powerful language.
DuBois’ full name is William Edward Burghardt Du Bois and was born on February 23, 1868. He was born and raised in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. DuBois was a very intelligent and successful student from an early age and on. He went to a local high school in Great Barrington and later graduated as valedictorian 1884, making him the first black person to graduate from his high school. Later he chose to attend Fisk University in 1885 and this is also where he got his writing start as an editor for the school paper. He stayed there and received his Bachelor of Arts in 1888 then the same year, left and entered Harvard as a junior. He took bachelor cum laude in 1890 and spoke at commencement. He also sought out an education at the University of Berlin, but ultimately ran out of funding. He left without receiving a doctorate and later went back and received one from Harvard while teaching in Ohio at Wilberforce University.
DuBois’ passion for writing is made clear through his wide variety of works and positions working jobs writing. His first experience being the editor for the school paper during his time at Fisk. DuBois also worked in sociology, using his statistical findings in his works. He did a study of Pennsylvania’s Seventh Ward and published the findings under the name The Philadelphia Negro in 1896. This work consumed much of his time to the point he even missed the birth of his son. The concept was much broader than just the just the everyday life of an African-American, it consisted of all the injustices and prejudice of the black man repeatedly experienced. DuBois expresses the power that color prejudice introduces socially in Philly that most didn’t realize. Another important work of his would be Souls of Black Folk published in 1903. Often called an American classic, Souls of Black Folk “offers an assessment of the progress of the race, the obstacles to that progress, and the possibilities for future progress as the nation entered the twentieth century”. He introduces many terms, that encompass the black experience as well. One of them being the concept of the “the veil”. DuBois described the veil as an experience only had by African-Americans within which they went through oppression. For the black person it was an easy task to understand the world in the veil as well as the one outside of it, but not for white people. White people couldn’t understand the effect of the veil because they were not only unable to understand the black experience. Also they were not able to realize that the veil not only served as insight into the average prejudice black people went through, but is also another shape of oppression. African-Americans and the veil exist together, so without the black experience there would be no veil. Another key concept would be the concept of “double consciousness”. Double consciousness refers to the 2 identities that are forced onto an African-American upon being a citizen in the United States. Having to combine these two identities prove to be very difficult as one cannot be only “Negro” or an “American” especially with it not being in a land where they aren’t wanted or a land that doesn’t belong to them.
DuBois is seen by many as one of the “fathers” of the Harlem Renaissance. His arguments and political and social views helped free many African-Americans with their arts and socially. Dubois coined the phrase “The Talented Tenth” as a proposed way to improve the social conditions of the African-American people. He explains “The Talented Tenth as, “The Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men. The problem of education, then, among Negroes must first of all deal with the Talented Tenth; it is the problem of developing the Best of this race that they may guide the Mass away from the contamination and death of the Worst, in their own and other races”. He is saying that only exceptional African-American will lead their people and steer them away from the bad in everyday life. Believed that one out of every ten black men could one day be a leader by educating them, work, showing the importance of their culture, and social activism. In 1905, DuBois and another man named William Monroe Trotter started a civil rights organization after not being allowed entrance into hotels in New York a group of black business owners, teachers, and church goers gathered at Niagara Falls and that’s where the group got its name. The group’s view openly opposed those Booker T. Washington’s view of accommodationism meaning where he states that “African-Americans should accommodate themselves to racial prejudice and concentrate on economic self-improvement”. DuBois rejected this view and believed that the only way stop segregation was through gaining political power, protests to irritate, and through greater education to the African-American youth. One of the most influential and impactful ways DuBois helped change the world in the Harlem Renaissance was with his hand in the co-founding and creation of the NAACP. It was founded in New York in 1909 in response to Springfield race riot in Illinois in 1908. Many of the original members were from the Niagara movement. The NAACP quickly attached itself to DuBois’ racial pride and the right to expression in the black culture, mixing to become what is called the “New Negro Movement”. The NAACP also played a huge role helping the African-American community reach their full potential, especially in Harlem, New York. It helped push an Anti-Lynching Bill in 1918 and continued to back it through passage. DuBois even found a way to voice his political views and use the outlet promote young African-Americans through the NAACP in the form of the paper “The Crisis”. In his writings in the paper he helped black literature evolve and flourish through his writings like essays or papers. The paper covered a multitude of subjects ranging from education, labor, women’s suffrage, and war. The Crisis shared the same mission as the NAACP give people equal opportunities without discrimination based on race. This worked as The Crisis became one of the most highly read papers that spoke on social injustice for black people of U.S. history. DuBois also made vocal his political view of Pan-Africanism. To many the concept of Pan-Africanism was seen as a question proposed to each newly freed black person: to buy into and integrate in American life or get back to the “roots” of the African parts of the culture deeply embedded in them. Ultimately the goal was to bring together all of those that share the African roots if any kind under one name.
The Harlem Renaissance was a time of evolution and as a whole was more than just a time of music and art. It symbolized the start of a long journey for African-Americans to separate themselves from the white social society and create their own culture. W.E.B. DuBois realized that it was a time for change and used his political views and spoke about the involvement of intellectuals to help spur that change. DuBois used the beauty of his writing to give his voice be heard, all for the advancement of his people and those same words still hold even power even today.
Analysis Of The Difference Between W.E.B. DuBois’ And Booker T. Washington’s Points Of View
W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington were two of the greatest leaders in the 19th and 20th century who had high hopes for the African American communities, but they disagreed on their strategies for black social and economic growth. Washington believed in education to learn new skills/trades, and patience he believed educations “is to teach the present generation to provide a material or industrial foundation” so, wait it out the times will change just learn trades you are able to survive off. He preached a philosophy of self-help, racial solidarity and accepted that black Americans would remain a second-class citizen, Dubois could not. Dubois believed African Americans can do better than accepting their second-class citizenship by getting college educations and giving them a broad base of understanding, so they can make their own choices in life instead of only offering a certain type of job solely based on the color of his skin. Education should teach students to be critical thinkers and impassioned citizens not just pick up a specific trade.
Booker T. Washington was born a slave in the 1850s but died as one of the most influential African-American intellectuals of the late 19th century. When emancipated after the Civil War, he became one of the few African Americans to complete school, as a result of which he became a teacher. Washington argued that when whites saw African Americans contributing as productive members of society, equality would naturally follow. African Americans should abandon their short-term hopes of social and political equality. Washington expressed his vision for African Americans in his direction of the school he started. He believed that by providing needed skills to society, African Americans would play their part, leading to acceptance by white Americans. He believed that blacks would eventually gain full participation in society by acting as responsible, reliable American citizens. Being born a slave and having to work so hard to become successful plays a great role in Washington’s political philosophy. In the “Atlanta Compromise” speech, Washington stated that African Americans should accept disenfranchisement and social segregation if whites allow them economic progress, educational opportunity and justice in the courts. Which coming from what he saw growing up this makes sense that this is what he thought was possible for the future. Not all had the same beliefs as Washington.
DuBois publicly opposed Booker T. Washington’s ‘Atlanta Compromise’, an agreement that asserted that vocational education for blacks was more valuable to them than social advantages like higher education or political office. DuBois was born 1868 to a free black family who owned land and did not experience racism until he went Nashville, Tennessee, to attend Fisk University. He criticized Washington for not demanding equality for African Americans, as granted by the 14th Amendment. Dubois believed that all people of African descent had common interests and should work together in the struggle for their freedom and not just for the trade school jobs.
I think both men’s upbringing played major roles in why they had such different point of views. Washington growing up in the south urged blacks to accept discrimination for the time being and concentrate on elevating themselves through hard work and material prosperity. Where DuBois wanted all to fight the fight for equal freedom and rights as white Americans. Washington believed that it was economic independence and the ability to show themselves as productive members of society that would eventually lead blacks to true equality, and that they should for the time being set aside any demands for civil rights. DuBois maintained that education and civil rights were the only way to equality, and that conceding their pursuit would simply serve to reinforce the notion of blacks as second-class citizens.
Analysis of the Difference in Ideologies Between Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois
Within the literary canon of African American literature, two of the most influential works of that canon would undoubtedly have to be Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington, and The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois. Within these two works, both authors put forth their own ideological solutions to the problems which are faced by African Americans in the 20th century. One arguing for uplifting African Americans through hard work and education within regards to certain practical work skills at the expense of obtaining civil rights, the other arguing that while it is important to get an education, only true racial uplift can be gained by also pursuing civil rights for African Americans. According to Houston A. Baker Jr. who specializes in African American literature, not only would these literary works become so influential as to define the political philosophies of generations to come, but they also represent two very important concepts within his own personal view of African American literature. These two concepts are the mastery of form and the deformation of mastery. The objective of this paper is to compare and contrast the two differing ideologies of these two significant authors as well as to demonstrate how their work acts as the ideal representations of the aforementioned concepts.
Though they had been freed, the Reconstruction era after the civil war failed to secure the rights of African Americans as citizens. By the late 19th century lynchings, segregation laws, and restrictions on their ability to vote practically made the rights guaranteed to them by the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments after the war meaningless. During the post reconstruction years in the United States, the primary concern amongst the intellectuals of the African American community were to come up with a solution as to how they could come to live within a society that still refused to recognize them as equals.
Two intellectuals emerged with their own ideas as to how to solve this conundrum. These intellectuals, known well within the pages of American history, are Booker T Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois. Learning from their own life experiences, both men developed their own methods as to how they wanted to improve upon the plight of the African American. Booker T. Washington was born as a slave on a farm in western Virginia. The exact month, date and year of his birth are unknown as a result of slavery, however the year 1856 is what one will find on his headstone. The rest of his ancestry also remains quite a mystery. Together with his older brother and younger sister, his mother, Jane, an African American woman who was herself enslaved, raised him. The exact identity of his father is unknown, though it is well understood that he was a white man.
It is accurate to say that much of the Booker T. Washington’s ideology was influenced by his upbringing. In his book Up From Slavery he writes, “From the time that I can remember anything, almost every day of my life has been occupied in some kind of labor”. Through his earliest years from being born on a slave plantation, to seeking employment at the age of nine, Washington learned the value of two things, labor and education. As a young boy Washington was sent to work in salt factories and coal mines, while at the same time working as a houseboy for a white family. Due to Abraham Lincoln’s issuing of the emancipation proclamation this would prove to be somewhat actual employment as opposed to slave labor. As far as education was concerned Washington began taking night classes at a school which was open to African Americans. He would eventually be allowed to participate in the day classes for a few months. From then on young Booker’s schedule would be comprised of him getting up early in the morning to work until nine, and return for at least two more hours of work straight away after the school was closed in the afternoon.
So after he was done working in the salt and coal, Washington officially began and would continue his education at the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in Virginia. Upon entering Hampton, Washington learned to value the importance of receiving an education. Though perhaps such is not an accurate statement as it seems he always had an appreciation for learning. He writes, “I determined, when quite a small child, that, if I accomplished nothing else in life, I would in some way get enough education to enable me to read common books and newspapers”. It is to be understood that his desire for education sparked from his aspiration to read.
However one could argue that his time at Hampton only made him come to know the true value of receiving an official education. In addition to this, he also began to further understand and learn the value of hard work. Washington would work as a janitor in order to pay for his tuition. During his time at Hampton he would soon find himself being taken under the wing of the institute’s founder, General Samuel Chapman Armstrong, who came to view him as his favorite pupil. Under Armstrong’s tutelage, Washington learned the value of maintaining self-control, upholding moral standards, and seeking practical training in the business of trade. After graduating from Hampton, Washington taught at an elementary school in his home town for a few years. General Armstrong would eventually ask him to return to Hampton in the year 1880. In time Washington’s mentor would soon nominate him to become the head of a new school in the city of Tuskegee, Alabama.
This school would come to be known as the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute. The primary purpose of this institute would be to train African Americans in the methods of teaching, farming, and it would give them the education needed to become skilled workers. Washington would particularly come to advocate for the notion of industrial education. He saw it as a means of aiding in the advancement of his people. Washington believed that African Americans needed to focus primarily on educating themselves, specifically by learning how to engage in useful trades, and by investing in their own businesses. He claimed that through their demonstration of hard work, and economic progress, African Americans would be able to prove how they were of value to the United Sates’ economy. This in turn would hopefully change how they were to be perceived in the eyes of white people.
By gaining financial independence and the ability to demonstrate themselves as productive citizens, what would ultimately occur is that African Americans would achieve full equality. It was understood that there was to be a condition to this philosophy. In order for African Americans to focus on these priorities, any demands for civil rights needed to be put aside for the time being. In 1895, Washington would express these views of his in a speech he gave to a mixed-race audience at the Cotton State and International Exhibition, in the state of Atlanta. He would garner support from two groups. The first was comprised of African Americans who trusted in his approach’s realistic judgment, whereas the second was comprised of white Americans who were contented with prolonging any serious discussion regarding the sociopolitical equality for African Americans until some other time. For all this support, Washington’s view would also garner much disapproval from a great many critics, one of them being none other than W. E. B. Du Bois. Born William Edward Burghardt Du Bois on February 23, 1868 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Du Bois grew up in a city that was predominantly white. In 1885, he attended Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. It was there that he came into contact with the Jim Crow laws, and for the first time began to truly understand racism in America. Du Bois would eventually come to teach at a college in Ohio for a brief time. Afterwards he became the director of a major study on the social conditions of African Americans.
After completing his research, he came to the conclusion that the very thing that was keeping African Americans from acquiring well-paying jobs was purely discrimination from the White population of the United States. He certainly despised such discrimination, but what one can imagine was worse than a white person engaged in prejudice, was a black person who encouraged such discriminatory behavior, effectively helping white people deny African Americans the means necessary to advance as a people. This is particularly what he views Booker T Washington is doing. Within the book The Souls of Black Folk there is a chapter in which Du Bois particularly looks into Washington’s perspective. Within this chapter known as “Of Mr. Washington and Others” Du Bois criticizes his point of view. He makes his criticism known by first recognizing Washington’s view as somewhat backward. He writes, “Mr. Washington represents in Negro thought the old attitude of adjustment and submission”. To further explain his point Du Bois provides an overview of what it is exactly that Washington is calling for. In order for African Americans to survive, what Washington advises them to do is in some way to become submissive towards the system they currently live in. He advises they do so by effectively surrendering three things. First their potential for political power, second any supposed claims they have to civil rights, and third their access to higher education. Instead Washington feels the efforts of the Negro should best be put towards teaching themselves how to accumulate wealth through industrial education, and achieving southern reconciliation. Du Bois recognizes this point of view as having been the dominant way of thinking for over fifteen years. But unfortunately while this view may have been the dominant way, what has come of it is nothing to be desired.
As a result of this way of thinking, African Americans have only been further disenfranchised. Legally they have been further relegated to a status in society which only presents them as something inferior. Also any aid they would receive from institutions dedicated to their higher education has been withdrawn. Though Du Bois acknowledges that these things are not the direct result of Washington’s ideology, he can’t help but state that his point of view has had quite a hand in exacerbating the social situation regarding the place of African Americans in society which only sped up the creation of such problems. Choosing to not only judge Washington’s view based on what is to be perceived as its results, Du Bois also criticizes his view point on its own merits, which he views as nothing more than a series of paradoxes. While Washington wants to make African Americans business men and property owners, Du bois finds this is impossible for African Americans cannot possibly be expected to engage in such occupations, or at the very least advance within such occupations, if they did not have the right of suffrage. Du bois finds it particularly paradoxical that Washington, “Insists on thrift and self-respect, but at the same time counsels a silent submission to civic inferiority such as is bound to sap of manhood of any race in the long run”.
Du bois wonders how man can come to advise one have self-respect, yet at the same time tell one to engage in something that only may work to reinforce undesirable notions of what one’s place is in the world, in effect only telling them to stay in the same place they’ve been for years, a place that did not exactly encourage such respect. As the third and final paradoxical way of thinking, Du Bois asserts how Washington seems to place industrial training above institutions of higher learning. Du Bois finds this to be paradoxical because from his perspective the places of learning that Washington cherishes so much would be useless and wouldn’t remain open for a single day if it weren’t for the teachers who are trained at such institutions of higher learning who staff them. By the end of the chapter Du Bois strangely enough asserts that while one should in some way rejoice in Washington’s success, and what he has done for African Americans, one cannot help but criticize him for what one can perceive a Washington acting as somewhat of an apologist for racial injustice, and for his inability to recognize the importance of seeking all the civil rights that African Americans are owed as citizens. There are quite a few problems with Du Bois’ assessment of Washington’s perspective. One of them being his perception as to Washington’s view regarding scholarly pursuits versus industrial education. Washington’s assertion as to the significance of industrial education did not mean he felt that being able to fully master scholarly subjects was out of the realm of possibilities for African-Americans, nor should they all completely surrender their access to it. He simply believed that there were more practical or important subjects to be taught. Another being that despite what Du Bois might think, It was never Washington’s intention that African Americans should accept their inferiority, but rather that they should be instructed on how to do things out of necessity.
Also as far Washington becoming an apologist for racial injustice by trying to appeal to white, as well as black audiences supposedly arguing in some form to maintain racial separation. What Du Bois further fails to understand, or doesn’t really take into account about Washington’s program of education is that the program was in many ways a product of its time in that it was designed to deal with a more deprived group of African-American people who seemed to require instruction on the most fundamental of subjects. Many African-Americans had neither the skills nor the expertise necessary to make progress in the economic domain during the Reconstruction era. A large portion of the population had sunk into a period of never ending debt as a result of sharecropping in Alabama’s Black Belt, where the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute was situated. Industrial education was seen as a means which provided an opportunity for these people to obtain the tools needed to function in society by learning how to engage in trade. From Washington’s perspective it would have been pointless to create a training program that would not seek to improve the societal status of African-American population as a whole.
Thus whatever program was to be created, it had to effectively be able to educate the poorest of the population. Washington was trying to show them how to be self-sufficient by teaching his students how to work effectively and in doing so prosper in American society. Furthermore it was more than just being able to get by in life by that self-sufficiency. It gave them a sense comprehension. Meaning that not only did he make it his mission to teach his students how to do things, but also how to solve whatever problems they may face later on in life. Additionally Washington believed that African Americans had an unreasonable desire to start at the top. This was principally ridiculous as not only did they lack sufficient skills to justify this desire, but there would be increasing animosity amongst the white population in pushing for such a thing as a result. Houston A. Baker Jr is a scholar at Vanderbilt University who specializes in African American literature. In his approach to African American literature, two concepts emerge. These are the notions of the mastery of form and the deformation of mastery.
The concept of the mastery of form is when an artist, in order to make themselves known, rights their work within the metaphorical confines of a literary tradition. In the book Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance Houston A. Baker Jr. finds that Washington’s work falls into such a tradition, specifically the tradition of minstrelsy. In the early 19th century, minstrelsy was a form of entertainment that depicted African Americans, sometimes played by both white and black people, as a happy, dancing, music performing characters. These acts would come to play an important role in shaping how African Americans were to be viewed within American society. This form of entertainment reinforced the racist stereotype that they were uneducated, ever-happy, and musical. In this particular sense Baker is interested more with the profound cultural significance of Minstrelsy, however, and not so much with the act. To give an explanation as to how he views the concept of mastery of form, Baker uses the analogy of a praying mantis.
To further illustrate this point, he uses the work of a zoologist by the name of H.B Cott to explain the significance of such an analogy. He writes, “The praying mantis is an insect whose ‘allaesthetic’ characteristics allow it to master the form of the green stalk so completely that predators-at a distance, and even close at hand-cannot distinguish its edibility”. In this case the mastery of form is associated with a kind of cryptic mask akin to the kind of mask African Americans have had to use, much like the praying mantis, to survive. As for how this applies to Up From Slavery, much like the mantis, Washington also uses a kind of mask of sorts in order to achieve some kind of purpose, according to Baker. To him Washington is perfectly aware of how to use the strategy of gaining liberation by manipulating the mask for revolutionary reasons. This is particularly brought to light within the speech Washington gave in 1895. In contrast to the mastery of form, the concept of the deformation of mastery is when an artist decides to write something which effectively goes against a literary tradition, rather than working within it. Baker particularly views The Souls of Black Folk as an excellent example of this concept. To him this work of literature is Du Bois’ way of demonstrating the need for a revolution. This is demonstrated as the book goes over the decades of the sufferings of African Americans. Much like the gorilla that rises on its hind legs when confronted with an intruder in its natural habitat, beating its chest while hooting, engaging in what is known as a phaneric display, Du Bois boldly advertises his
- Baker, Jr. Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance. University of Chicago Press, 2013.
- Blatty, David. “W.E.B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington and the Origins of the Civil Rights Movement.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 13 Apr. 2016, www.biography.com/news/web-dubois-vs-booker-t-washington (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
- “Booker T. Washington.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 3 Apr. 2019, www.biography.com/people/booker-t-washington-9524663 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
- Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopedia. “Houston A. Baker, Jr.” Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 18 Mar. 2019, www.britannica.com/biography/Houston-A-Baker-Jr (Links to an external site.)
- Costly, Andrew. “Three Visions for African Americans.” Constitutional Rights Foundation, www.crf-usa.org/brown-v-board-50th-anniversary/three-visions-for-african-americans.html (Links to an external site.)
- Du Bois, W. E. B. Souls of Black Folk: the Original Classic Edition. Emereo Pty Limited, 2012. “Mastery of Form / Deformation of Mastery.” Powered by College of Charleston Blogs, blogs.cofc.edu/modernism/mastery-of-form-deformation-of-mastery/.
- Porter, Horace. “REREADING THE GREAT BOOKS OF HARLEM.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 3 Jan. 1988, www.washingtonpost.com/archive/entertainment/books/1988/01/03/rereading-the-great-books-of-harlem/fc024b84-dbeb-428d-8cc1-bb985adaac0a/?utm_term=.d485103e9e8c (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
- Stocker, Maureen S. Educational Theory of Booker T. Washington. Accessed April 26, 2019. https://newfoundations.com/GALLERY/Washington.html#_edn16.
- Washington, Booker T. Up from Slavery. First Avenue Editions, a Division of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc., 2019.
The Difference in Views on Race Relations in America Between W.e.b. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington
The ideas of W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington sit on two different sides of the spectrum for fixing race relations in America following reconstruction. W.E.B. Du Bois ideas for race progression for African Americans were “radical” because he called for political action, persistent agitation, and academic education would be the best way to achieve full citizenship rights for African Americans. Du Bois wanted three main things for African American citizens first, the right to vote second, the education of African American youth, and third he wanted civic equality. While Booker T. Washington’s ideas were “conservative” because he called on white America to provide jobs and industrial-agricultural education for African Americans, then African Americans would have to give up civil rights and social equality. His message to fellow African Americans was that political and social equality is less important than economic respectability and independence. Washington’s leading belief was that if African Americans could prove to whites that they were useful and helpful to the country that they would eventually be treated equally and have the same rights as whites in America.
W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington didn’t disagree on everything they shared common beliefs for the advancement for African Americans for example, both believed that the economic advancement of African Americans was more important than universal manhood suffrage. Both also strongly believed in racial solidarity and economic cooperation. They also both placed a heavy emphasis on self-help and moral improvement. Even though W.E.B. Du Bois heavily disagreed with Booker T. Washington’s ideas he still had a great respect for him. The following quote shows that Dubois had respect for Booker T. Washington ideals when he stated ‘One hesitates, therefore, to criticize a life which beginning with so little, has done so much. And yet the time is come when one may speak in all sincerity and utter courtesy of the mistakes of Mr. Washington’s career as well as of his achievements, without being captious or envious, and without forgetting that it is easier to do ill than well in the world’.
In The Souls of Black Folk. Booker T. Washington was born into slavery in Virginia in the year 1856. He was a founder and principal of Tuskegee Institute, a normal and industrial school in Alabama. From the years 1895 to 1915 he was one of the most influential leaders for African Americans at the time. Booker T. Washington believed that after reconstruction the best approach for African Americans to become equal was to accommodate white Americans and by doing so meant accepting segregation and disfranchisement. He wanted African Americans to start focusing on farming and industrial skills so they could obtain economic freedom. Booker T. Washington’s called for white Americans to work to decrease racial violence, and support African American success in agriculture, industry, and business.
In 1901 Booker T. Washington was invited to the Whitehouse by President Teddy Roosevelt for dinner. News of the dinner between a former slave and the president of the United States became a national sensation and Teddy Roosevelt fell under heavy scrutiny for having dinner with a former slave in the white house. For Booker T. Washington education, employment, and self-reflection were the way towards racial equality. W.E.B. Du Bois was born in Massachusetts, in 1868. He attended Fisk University in Nashville, a school for African American students. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics gave Du Bois a job in 1897. This job helped create studies on black Southern households in Virginia, which uncovered how slavery still affected the personal lives of African Americans. Du Bois would do four more studies for the bureau, two in Alabama and two in Georgia. He originally was not opposed to Washington’s agenda. But from 1901 to 1903 his philosophy transitioned. DuBois thought that Washington’s program had become unbearable. Du Bois published a collection of essays that attacked Washington’s outlook in a collection of essays, The Souls of Black Folk, in 1903. Du Bois started the “radical” protest movement for civil rights for African Americans. He thought that political action, insistent tension, and education would be the way to reach true citizenship rights for African Americans. He stressed the necessity for liberal arts training because he believed that black leadership should come from college-trained backgrounds. The conflicting ideas of Washington and Du Bois can be seen in current day American politics.
The Democratic Debates that were held last week highlighted Democrats and their view on righting social injustices that are still a result of racism in America. Unfortunately, this is a continual battle to right the wrongs that have been imposed on African Americans and other minorities in America. We are still trying to fight the injustices in prison and corrupt police that prevail on the streets of poor Americans that are predominately African Americans. It will take strong voices like DuBois to help eradicate racism in the modern-day United States so we can move forward with equality among races. In summary, I agree with W.E.B. Du Bois ideas because they are far more effective than Booker T. Washington’s because if no one was complaining about the racial injustice then nothing would have been fixed. But at the end of day Du Bois and Washington both wanted the same thing for African Americans full rights and equality. They both just had different ideas for achieving that dream.
- “The Debate Between W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington.” PBS, Public Broadcasting dtService, 1998, www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/debate-w-e-b-du-bois-and-booker-t-washington/.
- Gibson, Robert A. “Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. DuBois: The Problem of Negro Leadership.” 78.02.02: Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. DuBois: The Problem of Negro Leadership, 2018, teachersinstitute.yale.edu/curriculum/units/1978/2/78.02.02.x.html
- “Booker T. Washington.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 9 July 2019, www.biography.com/activist/booker-t-washington.
- “W.E.B. Du Bois.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 10 Sept. 2019, www.biography.com/activist/web-du-bois.
- Staff, NPR. “Teddy Roosevelt’s ‘Shocking’ Dinner With Washington.” NPR, NPR, 14 May 2012, www.npr.org/2012/05/14/152684575/teddy-roosevelts-shocking-dinner-with-washington.