Two of the most influential people in shaping the social and political agenda of African Americans were Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Dubois, both early twentieth century writers. While many of their goals were the same, the two men approached the problems facing African Americans in very different ways. This page is designed to show how these two distinct thinkers and writers shaped one movement, as well as political debate for years afterward.
BOOKER T. WASHINGTON
Booker T. Washington was considered one of the shrewdest African American leaders of all time. As one commentator stated, Washington was modest but "too dignified to be humble". Nevertheless, Washington had a great influence on various African American writings and his influence can still be seen today.
As Washington stated in his book, Up From Slavery, "I am not quite sure of the exact place or exact date of my birth, but at any rate I suspect I must have been born somewhere and at sometime" (29). But, in reality, Booker Taliaferro Washington was born on a slave plantation in Franklin County, Virginia on April 5, 1856, where his mother worked as a cook. Washington's father, who he knew little of, was suspected to be a white man who worked on a near-by plantation. Growing up on the slave plantation, Washington lived in the most destitute surroundings. His "home" was a fourteen by sixteen square foot log cabin that he shared with his mother, brother, and sister. He spent most of his time on the plantation doing odd work, such as cleaning and working at the mill, since he was too small to do much more.
After the Civil War and the aboliti...
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...o instrumental in making progress. The famous Montgomery bus boycott took almost a year, but finally broke the large white-run service, and gave blacks a sense of how their importance in America could be displayed and proven.
As one can see, Washington and DuBois played a tremendous role in creating the atmosphere which took African Americans into the Harlem Renaissance era. Without them, particularly DuBois, the movement for cultural identity would have lacked essential inspiration and foundation. We hope that we have provided our readers with information that shows this.
Washington, Booker T.Up From Slavery Hearst Co.:New York,1965.
DuBois, W.E.B. The Souls of Black FolkHearst Co.:New York,1965.
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