Black Leaders: Booker T. Washington and William Edward Burghardt Du Bois

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Booker T. Washington and William Edward Burghardt Du Bois were influential black leaders. Their leadership strengthened the minds of the black race. During the decades of Reconstruction following the Civil War, African Americans struggled to be assimilated into the new American society. To do this African Americans required social and economic equality. Two great Negro leaders that emerged for this cause were Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois. With these two strong-headed men, another problem arose. They both sharply disagreed upon the strategies needed to gain these equalities. Washington preferred a gradual, submissive, and economically based plan. On the other hand, Du Bois relied upon a more agitating and politically aggressive plan. They worked for the advancement of African-Americans in American society, but their methods of achieving this goal and their leadership style differed greatly from one another. It is hard to fathom that two men, who helped to strive for the great goal of racial fairness, could have been such opposites, but it is true. Booker T. Washington, a former slave and the founder of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, believed that African Americans needed to accept segregation and discrimination for the time being and concentrate on elevating themselves through hard work and material prosperity. The eventual acquisition of wealth and culture by African Americans would gradually win for them the respect and acceptance of the white community. This would break down the divisions between the two races and lead to equal citizenship for African Americans in the end. Also he urged blacks to accept discrimination for the time being and concentrate on elevating themselves through hard work and material pros... ... middle of paper ... ...ould relate to the common man, Du Bois was arrogant, egotistical, and imperious. Since he could not believe that the average Southern white man had any desire to help the Negro, Du Bois could see no future in the South for the ambitious young people of his race. Directly contradicting Washington's counsel, Du Bois urged them to go North for freedom and advancement. He encouraged urban migration at every turn, believing that the "country represented oppression and serfdom," while the "city represented opportunity." It is very clear to see that their experiences were different and this is very important in understanding how they saw the future of the race. But it's also important to keep in mind that for both of them, race uplift was the central key. Despite all of Du Bois attacks on him, Washington still managed to be more popular at the time, and more famous today.
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