W.E.B. DuBois is being honored this Black History Month and forever more for his dedication to the progress within the Black community.
DuBois was the first Black/African American to earn a doctorate level degree from Harvard University.
Dr. DuBois began to gain public recognition when he openly disagreed with the subservience of well known Booker T. Washington.
Booker T. Washington’s mother was a slave and he was born into slavery as a slave as well. Booker T. Washington made some great accomplishments in life having come from the depth of oppression. His zeal to learn forced him into educating himself until he found vices to assist him in developing his education.
One notable story is that, Washington is said to have traveled 500 miles walking, taking odd jobs in between, to get to the Hampton Agricultural Institute in Virginia and when he arrived, he served his way into a janitor job and later a scholarship.
Booker T. Washington’s accomplishments will never be dismissed but honesty pushes us to the reality of his growth and truth supplies that while Washington’s slave beginnings ended in educational success, his growth was stunted by oppression.
Washington’s growth ceased, his growth stopped, his growth ended, he became stagnate when he agreed that Black should be second class citizens to Whites. The first time that a Black man gave a public speech in front of an audience that included Whites is accredited to Booker T. Washington in a speech known as the, “ Atlanta Compromise.”
Washington brought death to his own growth and seemingly death to the potential of Black in this Atlanta Compromise when he proposed that Blacks should accept things as they are and by working hard or harder, Blacks can prove themselves to Whites and be accepted. The Library of Congress describes Washington’s position in the following words,
“Blacks should not agitate for social and political equality in return for the opportunity to acquire vocational training and participation in the economic development of the New South” (Library of Congress)
In bold contrast of Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois stood out when he professed that Blacks should demand equality.
Dr. DuBois is said to have studied with some of the best known social scientist throughout his educational path and was a contrast of Booker T. Washington who had been a slave and such liberation may have been instilled in and of him due to his glimpse of experience in equality as when Dr. DuBois moved to the Southern United States, he chose not to assimilate but took offense to the way he was treated.
Dr. DuBois was what many refer to as, Mulatto. He was born in Massachusetts and had experienced very little racism until he moved to Tennessee to attend Fisk University; DuBois claims that it was there that he first experienced the Jim Crow laws of segregation.
Dr. DuBois attended the University of Berlin as a “study abroad” component of his graduate education at Harvard and had a wealth of knowledge in and of social science thereafter.
In fact, it was Dr. DuBois who conducted the first case study of Blacks in and of the inner city. DuBois findings supported that Blacks did have debilitating habits within their environment but that such behavior was the direct result of racism against the entire people and their essence thereof.
Dr. DuBois’ findings were the first of its kind whereby oppression was said to be the reason for the condition in which Blacks lived and how they related to the environment as a whole.
This study he referred to as, The Philadelphia Negro and can be found at the following link:http://archive.org/details/philadelphianegr001901mbp
Booker T. Washington may have been impressed at his accomplishment because he had been a slave. However, the fact that Booker T. Washington had been a slave may have also been the reason why he saw equality as too far a stretch of the Negro imagination.
As we retire from the speculation for possible reasons why Booker T. Washington did not draw the same conclusion as W.E.B. DuBois, we honor W.E.B. Du Bois today for not cowering away from the root of the problem and giving the Black voice volume in the World.
Cites: Library of Congress
http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/dubois/ Accessed February 2013
Booker T. Washington and the Atlanta Compromise | Teaching with … Accessed February 2013