“The Negro” by W. E. B. Du Bois

Dubois and Booker Washington were men who believed they had to act to make a change for Blacks. They had to stand up for the rights of men of their race. This meant going against the fallacy that the black race was inferior to the white one. Washington is known as a power broker, black educator and institution builder. This enigma was born in the year 1856 on a Virginia farm in Washington. He is remembered for the formation of National Negro Business League. Besides, he was an adviser to two presidents: William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt. He advocated for the social and political equality of the blacks and trained them to be economicallyautonomous inthe industrial arts. Du Bois attended Harvard University and published the book Souls of Black Folk in 1903 (Du Bois, 1). Besides, he founded the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP). This paper looks at the philosophies of the two leaders that sought to emancipate blacks.

Washington’s presence became recognized when the economic, social and political situation of the Black Americans had worsened.He advocated for the black people to get an education, to be offered employment opportunities, to acquire property and respect in the world of business (Washington, 9). He stated that if they got this, the Negroes would cease their civil rights and social justice demands. His message to the Black Americans in his Atlanta address was that gaining economic independence was more important than gaining social equality as the latter would come eventually once the Whites saw the economic capabilities of the Negroes and regarded them as indispensable. He urged the Negroes to work as farmers, servants and manual workers as a way to show the Whites that they should not be regarded as””liars and chicken thieves.””(Washington & Burghardt, p.15)

Besides, he pushed for the black race to be given voting rights so that they could be involved in the day to day activities and electing leaders into various positions. In his speech, Washington asserts that the rights of the black person were inevitable and there was no escape from it whether by the law of man or that of God.

Also stating in the same article,The case of a negro, where he statesthat the negro is at his best in the southern states. Meaning while empowering his race he is saying, the north lacks opportunity’s that the south has. His philosophy was majorly centred on the Black Americans accept the social oppression of the Whites but strive to gain economic independence. With hisproposal, Washington gained admiration and respect among the Negroes and the Whites. However, there were those who opposed this proposal among them being W.E.B. DuBois. He was of the opinion that Washington accepted black inferiority. He failed to provide accolades for the black community and instead promoted industrial education and wealth accumulation. He thought that this was not necessary as the blacks had just been freed. Furthermore, Washington encouraged submissiveness amongst the blacks.

He did this by promoting personal development instead of the fight for equality and civil rights. In The souls of Black Folk, he said, the Black men of America have a duty to perform a duty stern and delicate a forward movement to oppose a part of the work of their greatest leader. (DuBois, p. 6) He believed that the Negroes should have been persistent to obtain social equality. Through Washington’s proposals, DuBois felt that the Negroes were disenfranchised, were considered inferior and could not obtain financial aidfrom learning institutions. He shared in Washington’s belief that education was important but he saw this as a means for the Negroes to obtain the rights of a full citizen(Ware, p. 12). Dubois main reason for therejection of Washington’s policy was because he felt it’s scope was narrow. It hindered social and civil justicefor the Negroes.

The two leaders played an integral role in ensuring that the rights of the blacks are respected and guaranteed. This not only resulted in the black person’s fitting in the society but also changed the way people viewed them. By encouraging self-determination, Washington was building self-belief and confidence amongst a race composed of oppressed people. However, his promotion of submissiveness might be right in the presence of a government that did not recognize the rights of the blacks. This policy meant that the people had to follow the policies and rules put in place. This was the reason why his policy attracted great admiration from both the African American and the White communities. It provided an easy way for the Negroes to obtain an education. However, it limited their civil and social rights. It still placed them in an environment where they were treated unjustly.

Du Bois, on the other hand, is right as the civil rights of the black people was essential and had to be fought for. His policy was much difficult to employ as the Whites felt the Negroes were an inferior race and therefore resisted any effort to change this attitude. Malcolm X thought that was of the opinion that education offered should place the black man’s history and culture at the center of education (Jerome, 126). This is crucial and relevant in this century as it makes the blacks to have a sense of identity. Besides, they are in a position to grow and learn from the past mistakes. Malcolm felt it necessary for the Blacks to rise above the limits placed on them by the Whites. Through his experiences, he was able to criticize the education that the Black people received.

He was not in agreement with certain aspects of the Black education including public desegregation. He was of the opinion that the Blacks should be taken to all-black schoolsand receive quality education instead of having to undergo segregation while studying with the Whites. He feltthat the Black community should take control of the education that their children were receiving instead of letting this control fall into the hands of other people(Curry, p. 20). The history of the Blacks, according to him, should have been a way for them to get better education for themselves and rise beyond the barriers put in place to hinder their educational progress.

The issues of the rights of the black people are very crucial. Human beings were created in the same image despite the colorof their skin. The act of looking at a black man as inferior and a slave has no place in the modern world. As a society, this could never have been achieved without W.E.B. Dubois who stood up for this race. They might have used different methods and criticized each other, but they had a similar goal. Their fruits of their efforts are being enjoyed all over the world.

Works Cited

Du Bois, W. E. B. The souls of black folk. Oxford University Press. (2008).

Morris, Jerome E. “Malcolm X’s critique of the education of Black people.”Western Journal of Black Studies 25.2 (2001): 126.

Washington, B. T. The Case of the Negro. University of Virginia Library.(1995).

Washington, Booker T., and William Edward Burghardt Du Bois. The Negro in the South, His Economic Progress in Relation to His Moral and Religious Development: Being the William Levi Bull Lectures for the Year 1907. GW Jacobs, 1907.

Ware, Edward T. “Higher education of Negroes in the United States.”The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 49.1 (1913): 209-218.Curry, Jabez Lamar Monroe.

Education of the Negroes since 1860. Trustees of the John F. Slater Fund, 1894.