Over 100 years ago W.E.B DuBois and Booker T. Washington began a debate over strategies for black social and economic progress, which is still prevalent today. Booker T. Washington believed that the role of education for African Americans should be an industrial one, where as W.E.B DuBois wanted African Americans to become engaged in a Liberal Arts education.
Washington's approach to solving the problems African Americans faced was rooted in his belief in an industrial education. Born a slave and educated at Hampton Institute Washington learned from a trade and skill based curriculum. He advocated a philosophy of self-help, accommodation and racial solidarity. He believed that the best option for African Americans was, for the time being, to accept discrimination and work hard to gain material prosperity. Washington believed in education of a practical craft, through which African Americans would win the respect of whites, become full citizens, and become fully integrated into all aspects of society.
During a time of worsening social, political and economic conditions for African Americans Washington emerged as the major spokesman for the gradualist economic strategy. His rise to national prominence came in 1895 with his "Atlanta Compromise" address. Washington called on white Americans to provide jobs and industrial education for blacks, in exchange for blacks giving up demands for social equality. His message was that po...
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