Booker T. Washington's legacy is a troubled one. Dubois was right to say, "When Mr. Washington apologizes for injustice, he does not rightly value the privilege and duty of voting, belittles the emasculating effects of caste distinctions, and opposes the higher training and ambition of our higher minds" (afro 1). But can we really fault Booker T. for being misguided and flat-out wrong? Washington is not the first successful, insufferable man in America who rose from abject poverty to a life of bourgeois comfort, who then assumed that everyone else could too, if only they did as he did. This is not sycophancy. This is a classic case of projection and denial: myopic projection of his own experience, and flagrant denial of the horrors of white supremacy. To accuse Booker T. Washington of complacency is an insult to a good man's efforts in working ceaselessly for the betterment of several million newly freed, unemployed, African American slaves, of which he was one. The post-Civil War problems facing the nation were intractable and myriad. This was uncharted territory. In his defense, Washington founded a college made of mortar and brick which still stands today that has educated celebrated alumni like Eli Whitney, Ralph Ellison, and Damon Wayans. He opened a much-needed dialogue between the black community and the ruling (racist) white class in America. He paved the road for better thinkers, like Dubois, who saw the danger in Booker T's faulty reasoning.
Much has been said about Booker T's obsession with hygiene. It is a common criticism that the Northern school teachers, who came to the South to educate black children, seemed more concerned about clean fingernails...
... middle of paper ...
... Godliness at a very impressionable age. Swimming in charitable donations from the North while at Tuskegee, Booker T. believed in the essential goodness of the white race. (The next several decades proved him wrong.) Sycophancy requires a dishonest flattery. Washington revered the people who helped him to establish his school. Complacency implies lack of concern, and Washington truly believed that he was helping the black community by appeasing the white man. Learning a working class trade when the professional job market was shut-off to people of color (and most Americans, for that matter) seemed like the only way up to Booker.
"Afro-American Heritage and History." Working paper, 3 September 2002. 4 april 2005. <http://multirace.org/firstday/stamp16.htm>
Washington, Booker T. Up from Slavery. New York: Dover Publications, 1995.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Defense for Booker T. Washington Booker T. Washington is innocent of sycophancy and complacency. The meaning of sycophancy, as we know it, is a self serving flatterer. By far, I do not think that Mr. Washington is one of these. Mr. Washington’s second charge, complacency, according to the online dictionary of Merriam – Webster means, self-satisfaction accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies. Again, this is far from what Booker T. Washington is guilty of, in fact, Mr.... [tags: Up From Slavery African Americans Essays]
960 words (2.7 pages)
- How do you write about race. How do you write about economics in a community. Two different authors, but same characteristics. Booker T. Washington author of “Up from Slavery”, wrote a letter titled The Atlanta Exposition Address to the president. In the Exposition, he wrote about he’s beliefs on African Americans economic growth and how they should see race in order to succeed in the new South. Compared to Richard Write author of Long Black Song, he writes about the conflict with white people throughout the story, dealing with race and economics.... [tags: Black people, White people, African American]
1049 words (3 pages)
- Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois were both early leaders in the struggle for black equality. Washington was probably the preeminent black spokesman at the turn of the century. DuBois was one of the founders of the NAACP. Both agreed that the goal was full participation by blacks in American society, economically and politically. The differences in their backgrounds caused both men to come to different conclusions on how that goal could be reached. Booker T. Washington was born a slave. Growing up in the South, working to help pay his way through college, teaching black schoolchildren in the South, he was painfully aware of the inequalities that Southern blacks faced on a day-to-day ba... [tags: Blacks in American Society]
1090 words (3.1 pages)
- FRS 2000 Research Paper The controversial discourse on race between W.E.B DuBois and Booker T. Washington defined much of the social, political, and economic issues in Black Harlem and other African American communities in the United States during 1910-1930. These two Black intellectual leaders supported entirely diverse views on how to empower and aid African Americans in freeing themselves from their often subhuman conditions. Although they share different perspectives on how African Americans can achieve equality towards gaining civil rights, they shared the same idea to uplift the Black race.... [tags: African American, Black people, Negro]
1212 words (3.5 pages)
- The Black Panther Party for Self Defense was the most significant activist group during the Civil Rights Movement Era. It was founded in Oakland, California by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale in October of 1966. The Black Panthers Party was founded to fight for and protect the rights of African Americans. Believing that the approach Martin Luther King Jr. was expressing would take too long, the approach Black Panther Party took was more along the lines of Malcolm X more aggressive theories rather than Martin Luther King Jr.’s more peaceful strategy.... [tags: Civil Rights]
1608 words (4.6 pages)
- During his lifetime, Booker T. Washington was a national leader for the betterment of African Americans in the post-Reconstruction South. He advocated for economic and industrial improvement of Blacks while accommodating Whites on voting rights and social equality. Washington traces his life from his being born a slave to an educator. His writings and speeches, though initially was very influential for his race, later in his life began to be challenged by the new generation of African Americans and died as he did in 1915 with him.... [tags: Booker T. Washington Essays]
2870 words (8.2 pages)
- BOOKER T. WASHINGTON: THE AMBIGUITY OF INFLUENCE ABSTRACT My paper will discuss the continuing influence of Booker T. Washington's writings on historically black colleges. While my paper will focus on the ways in which the historically black college continues to adhere to the model provided by Washington, it will also explore the ways in which it diverges from the early Hampton-Tuskegee ideal. According to James D. Anderson in The Education of Blacks in the South, both contemporary observers and later historians have portrayed the white south as taking a monolithic view of black education.... [tags: Booker T. Washington]
1921 words (5.5 pages)
- In 1901, Booker T. Washington published his autobiography “Up from Slavery”, providing a powerful and compelling voice for the newly free African-Americans, a plea for equality in a quickly changing America. In his memoirs, Washington evokes his address at the Atlanta Exposition where he asks everyone to “cast down your bucket where you are”, meaning that all Americans, whatever their skin color, should take advantage of what is good and valuable around them, be aware of the possibilities and sources available to them, and learn to live with what they have, and who they are, not wait for help or outside supplies, which is exactly that he does in his own narrative.... [tags: Slavery, Slavery in the United States]
1037 words (3 pages)
- Booker T. Washington's "Up From Slavery" The autobiography of Booker T. Washing titled Up From Slavery is a rich narrative of the man's life from slavery to one of the founders of the Tuskegee Institute. The book takes us through one of the most dynamic periods in this country's history, especially African Americans. I am very interested in the period following the Civil War and especially in the transformation of African Americans from slaves to freemen. Up From Slavery provides a great deal of information on this time period and helped me to better understand the transition.... [tags: Biography Washington Slavery essays]
2566 words (7.3 pages)
- W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington were two very influential leaders in the black community during the late 19th century, early 20th century. However, they both had different views on improvement of social and economic standing for blacks. Booker T. Washington, an ex-slave, put into practice his educational ideas at Tuskegee, which opened in 1881. Washington stressed patience, manual training, and hard work. He believed that blacks should go to school, learn skills, and work their way up the ladder.... [tags: Strategy Du Bois Washington African American ]
1226 words (3.5 pages)