WEB. Dubois vs. Booker T. Washington, who had it right?
Résumé de l'exposé
W.E.B Dubois and Booker T. Washington were two great leaders of the African American community back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries who sharply disagreed on strategies to ensure black social and economic rights and progress following the era of radical "Reconstruction". Born a slave in 1856, Washington was the founder of Tuskegee Institute, a normal and industrial school in Alabama. His rise to national recognition came in 1895 with a speech he delivered at the opening of the Cotton States and International Exposition held in Atlanta in September 1895 in which he outlined his social philosophy and racial strategy. In this speech, he called on white America (especially the South) to support the industrial education for Black Americans and provide jobs while the latter would give up demands for social equality and civil rights. His main idea to the Black community was that political and social equality were less important immediate goals than economic sustainability and success. Why was it so? Following the U.S Civil War, the North imposed to the South the end of slavery and the recognition of equal rights for all U.S citizens independently of their race. The XIIIth amendment to the U.S Constitution ratified in 1865 held that slavery and involuntary servitude (except as punishment for a crime) was abolished, the XIVth amendment ratified in 1868 defined citizenship and dealt with post Civil-war issues while the XVth amendment ratified in 1870 prohibited the denial of suffrage based on race, color or previous condition of servitude. Yet, during the years following Reconstruction (1865-1877), the situation of the African Americans strongly deteriorated. The hopes for full citizenship were soon shattered after the "great betrayal" of 1876 when the federal government restored white supremacist control to the South (Northern troops left the South). The era of Jim Crow laws on segregation led to the Black disfranchisement, social discrimination and harsh violence through lynching and the foundation of the Ku Klux Klan in 1865. Strict legal segregation of public facilities in the South was empowered in 1896 by the Supreme court ruling in the Plessy vs. Fergusson case, which relied on the "separated but equal" doctrine. The people of color were deprived of their civil rights in a "second-class" citizenship especially because of the 1898 William vs. Mississippi decision (even if Blacks had the right to vote, the States were allowed to impose restrictions). Hence the basic question : how to regain first-class citizenship? Washington's answer was exposed in his 1895 speech : he encouraged the African American community to become skilled workers so that they would be indispensable to the wealth of the South, then political and social rights would soon be granted to them. W.E.B. Dubois was born in 1868 in a privileged family, he was highly educated, got a PhD. in history from Harvard, studied in Berlin. He had a complete opposite background compared to Washington. Dubois's approach differed as he pushed for a struggle for civil rights, led by the "talented tenth" of his race who should form the Black elite which would be very demanding to obtain equality of situations. Washington was a gradualist economic strategist while Dubois was a gradualist political strategist. In a word, both of them shared the same goal but offered two opposite visions, two opposite philosophies for the path to equality. Who had it right? The first idea that would strike one is that they were both right as they shared the same goal, but if one of them had to be wrong, it means that one out of the two strategies was better and prevailed. This demands to choose between an incrementalist approach and a radical one. So the main question is : which one tended to be more effective? This also supposes to make a quick assessment of nowadays' issues within the African American community. In order to try offering an answer to this question, one should try and see whether Washington and Dubois were so opposed one to another (I) and then make an assessment of the methods proposed by updating them (II).
Sommaire de l'exposé
I. Dubois vs. Washington? Same vision, yet two opposite stances
A. "Separated approaches but equal goal"
B. Who had it right?
II. Updating Dubois and Washington's methods : the Civil Rights movement and Race relations
A. From philosophy to the Civil Rights, a strong case for Dubois
B. Race relations nowadays, the persistence of Washington's program
Extraits de l'exposé
[...] The U.S is being resegregated : in 1963 MLK in his have a dream? address envisioned the day ?when the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood?. Since that day, some progress has been made in race relations. Sadly though, the progress has been in the laws rather than in the minds. Legal segregation is history but it has been replaced with self-segregation: the result is that two universities one black and one white exist side by side on the same campus. [...]
[...] Dubois opposed Washington's program because to him it was narrow in its objectives. He stressed the necessity for liberal arts training because he believed that Black leadership should come from college-trained backgrounds: the ?talented tenth?. Giving a clear-cut answer to the question had it right?? is particularly difficult. How could we decide on who had it right when the two protagonists used to agree? Dubois changed his stance when he felt the ideas he had espoused proved to be inefficient (as segregation remained and political rights were still lacking). [...]
[...] While the Congress was debating the bill, the streets of Washington were crowded with the largest demonstration the nation's capital had ever known as over 200,000 people participated in the ?March on Washington for Justice and Freedom?. It was the occasion that Reverend Martin Luther King delivered his have a dream? address in which he expressed his hopes that his children might some day live in a nation which would judge them not the color of their skin but by the content of their character?. To my view, this could be seen as an applied ?Duboisian approach? but where did it lead? After President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, problems remained. [...]
[...] In my opinion, Booker T. Washington's approach is being followed by the Asian community. The 1992 Los Angeles riots also demonstrated that there is more to ethnic conflicts in America today than just black vs. white strife. The main victims in the LA riots were Koreans, whose shops were looted or firebombed. Inner-city African Americans resent the apparently easy success of the Asian community, thinking that they made it because they received grants from the government when in fact they achieved their position through hard work, remaining silent, like in Washington's program. [...]
[...] After all, Washington was born a slave and managed to become a prominent national figure. And though his approach is not a fight for rights as is Dubois's one, he seemed to have had a double discourse : not frightening the White community while on the other hand secretly financing and directing many court suits against proscriptions of civil rights. What remains of these visions nowadays? Which one has been applied? Updating Dubois and Washington's methods : the Civil Rights movement and Race relations From philosophy to the Civil Rights, a strong case for Dubois African Americans were encouraged by a basic government sympathy to become increasingly active in their efforts to improve their civil rights : in May 1954, the Supreme court, presided over by Chief Justice Earl Warren, had issued a decision which held that segregation in U.S public schools was unconstitutional, thus reversing its 1896 ruling on ?separated but equal?. [...]
À propos de l'auteur
Guillaume P.EtudiantPhilosophie politiqueWEB. Dubois vs. Booker T. Washington, who had it right?