The two African America Community leaders shared several differences and similarities. Most of their differences were a result of believing in different philosophies. First, Washington proposed industrial education, and later wrote “Up from Slavery” to educate African Americans1. Conversely, Dubois, who advocated for liberal arts education and authored “The Education of Blacks,”2. Second, Booker T Washington believed that African Americans could gain civil rights by working within white political systems and assimilating to achieve equity. On the other hand, W.E.B Dubois held that African Americans were to cling to their cultures and form their own nations to attain equity. Otherwise, all these leaders were engaged in civil rights movements to enhance African Americans’ lives. Third, Booker T Washington was convinced that whites were fair to African Americans and always prioritized gradual change. On the contrary, W.E.B Dubois insisted that whites were racists and therefore supported American society’s restructuring through radical change. The two leader aimed at making a positive difference among the Africans Americans by proposing different education systems, changes, civil rights movements, and their publications.
The two leaders had different backgrounds even though they had the same goals for African Americans. Booker T. Washington was born a slave in Virginia in 1856. After the Civil War, he attended Hampton Institute, where he learned about trades and agriculture. He then became a teacher at Tuskegee Institute and started to develop his philosophy of education and race relations. He believed that African Americans should first learn useful skills and work hard to improve their economic situation before they could demand civil rights and equality. He also believed in social uplift or the idea that African Americans could improve their condition by adopting white middle-class values. Washington’s beliefs were controversial at the time, but many people saw him as a leader and spokesman for the African American community.
On the other hand, W.E.B Dubois was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, in 1868 to a free African-American family. He became a leader of the African American community and worked to promote civil rights for all people. He is most famous for his book “The Souls of Black Folk,” which explores the black experience in America. Dubois believed that education was key to improving the lives of African Americans and founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) with Mary White Ovington and other leaders in 19093. The NAACP fought for civil rights through legal means and continues to work toward equality for all people today.
Firstly, the two leaders attained different education systems that they proposed and wrote influencial books to educate African Americans. Booker proposed industrial education such as trade learning, while W.E.B prioritized liberal art education. Booker believed that black people should first focus on acquiring vocational and industrial skills, and this was in direct contrast with the academic or liberal arts education being offered to white students. Washington held that it was more important for black people to have marketable skills so that they could get jobs and be self-sufficient4. He also felt that industrial education would aid in improving race relations because white employers would see that black people were capable of doing skilled labor.
On the contrary, W.E.B Dubois supported liberal arts education; in his book, “The Education of Blacks,” he argued that liberal arts education was the key to unlocking the potential of the black community. He believed that a liberal arts education would assist blacks in becoming more cultured and well-rounded individuals, which would then lead to greater empowerment and leadership within the community5. He likewise held that a liberal arts education would provide blacks with the analytical skills necessary to deconstruct and critique racist institutions and policies. Over time, the academic approach won out over the industrial approach, but many African Americans continued to believe in the value of vocational education.
The fundamental difference between liberal arts education and industrial education was that liberal focused on teaching students how to think critically, while industrial focused on teaching students how to do things. Liberal arts education prepared students for a lifetime of learning by teaching them how to think for themselves. On the contrary, industrial education equips students for a specific career by teaching them the skills they needed in order to be successful in their fields6. Liberal arts education taught students how to learn, while industrial education taught students what to learn.
In addition, both wrote acclaimed books about their experiences which were meant to taught African Americans: “Up from Slavery” by Booker T Washington and “The Souls of Black Folk” by W E B Dubois. In the book, Washington covered his life from slavery to reconstruction and then his years as a leader of the Tuskegee Institute, a black educational institution in Alabama. Washington’s philosophy was that African Americans should focus on economic empowerment rather than political rights, and he urged them to learn trades and become self-reliant7. He also argued that they should accept white supremacy and work peacefully within the existing political system. In “The Souls of Black Folk,” Dubois discussed a number of issues affecting African Americans, including racism, segregation, education, and civil rights8. He similarly explored the double consciousness idea, which was the experience of black Americans who were forced to see themselves through the lens of white America, and did not have a true sense of identity.
Secondly, both leaders had different perceptions of the means to attain civil rights and equity. Washington believed that African Americans should work within the existing American political system to achieve civil rights. He felt that this was the most practical way to initiate change and that protest would only serve to alienate whites and further damage race relations. Washington similarly considered education and self-reliance as means of improving the status of African Americans. While his ideas were not always popular, they did eventually lead to significant progress for African Americans in America.
Conversely, Dubois believed that African Americans should break away from America and form their own nation where they could be equal citizens. He called this idea the Double V campaign, which stood for victory against both racism and militarism. Dubois believed that African Americans needed their own homeland where they could be masters of their own destiny and not subject to the whims of white supremacists9. He equally thought that a separate African American nation would make it easier for America to focus its resources on defeating the Nazis in Europe since segregation was hampering black soldiers’ ability to fight effectively.
Moreover, the two African American Community leaders had diverse ideologies for gaining equality. Dubois believed that it was important for African Americans to maintain their cultural heritage and organize separately from whites in order to gain equality. He noted that when African Americans tried to assimilate into white society, they were held back by racism and discrimination10. However, when they organized together and maintained their own culture, they were able to make progress. For example, the civil rights movement was successful in large part because of the strength of the black community’s organization.
In comparison, Washington believed that it was important for African Americans to assimilate into white society in order to gain equality. He felt that this would be the best way for them to achieve social and economic success. Many people disagreed with Washington’s stance, arguing that it was more important for African Americans to focus on their own empowerment11. However, Washington’s approach eventually proved successful, as evidenced by the many African Americans who have achieved great success in America despite facing significant obstacles. Washington believed that it was hard for Africa Americans to achieve social and economic success without assimilating into white society because racism was entrenched in all areas of American life. He was convinced that African Americans could overcome institutionalized racism by becoming educated and economically successful.
One of the similarities is that both were heavily involved in the civil rights movement. Washington was considered one of the most influential African American leaders of all time. After the Civil War, Washington played a major role in helping newly freed slaves gain education and employment. Additionally, he became a key figure in the reconstruction era, working to ensure that black Americans had a voice in government. Washington was an advocate for peaceful protest and believed that African Americans should work hard and improve themselves before demanding equality. This approach was met with criticism by some who felt that he was too compromising, but his tactics eventually led to greater opportunities for black Americans.
Similarly, Dubois was another influential and important African American leader of the early civil rights movement. He was profoundly involved in many aspects of the movement, including working for equal education and opportunities for blacks, fighting against racism and segregation, and pushing for social reform. He joined the civil rights movement in the early 1900s, and he became a leader in the Niagara Movement, which aimed to end racial discrimination. He co-founded the NAACP, and he served as its first director of research12. Dubois wrote extensively on race relations, African American culture, and social injustice, including his well-known book “The Souls of Black Folk.” His work aided in shaping the way many people think about these topics, and he remained an important figure in the discussion of race relations in America.
Thirdly, Booker was more conservative than Dubois on social issues such as gaining of intermarriages, and they advocated for different change systems. The two African American Community leaders had different philosophies on how best to promote the cause of African-Americans. Washington advocated for economic self-sufficiency in order to provide African Americans with a means to escape poverty and racism. He believed that if African Americans could become economically self-sufficient, they would be in a better position to demand equality and respect. Additionally, Washington felt that economic self-sufficiency would help to improve the image of African Americans in the eyes of white America. The difference in their philosophies came down to the fact that Washington believed that white people would ultimately be fair and just in their treatment of African Americans.
In contrast, Dubois believed that white people were inherently racist and would never fully accept African Americans into society. Ultimately, their differing philosophies led to a schism within the African American community about how best to achieve equality. Likewise, in regard to social concerns like mixed-race marriage, Washington was more conventional than Dubois13. Washington was more conventional because he believed that society should be structured in a way that promotes order and stability. He thought that people of different races should be kept separate from each other to avoid social chaos. Dubois, on the other hand, believed in integration and felt that people of all races should be allowed to mix and intermarry. He thought this would lead to a more just and equal society. The Pan-African Congress, proposed by W.E.B Dubois, was a gathering of African American intellectuals and leaders meant to help African-Americans attain economic independence14. Dubois felt that black people in America could not truly be free until they were economically independent and called for a meeting of all the major thinkers and leaders in the black community to discuss ways to achieve this goal.
Concerning change system proposals, Booker was a proponent of gradual change, while W.E.B was a radical change supporter. Washington believed that change needed to be gradual in order to be successful. He felt that protesting and demanding change overnight would only result in violence and further division15. Washington’s approach was ultimately successful, as many African Americans did gain education and eventually achieved equality. However, his methods were met with criticism by some who felt that progress should have been made faster. Nevertheless, Washington’s philosophy of gradual change is still relevant today.
However, Dubois was a proponent of radical change because he believed that the only way to achieve equality for African Americans was through a complete restructuring of American society. He claimed that incremental change would not be sufficient and that only a radical approach could lead to the level of change needed to address systematic racism and inequality in America16. Du Bois believed that education was key to achieving equality for African Americans because, through education, they could learn about their history and culture and gain the skills necessary to participate in society on an equal footing with other races. Du Bois also believed that education would help to break down the barriers of ignorance and prejudice that prevented African Americans from achieving equality. He saw education as a way to empower African Americans and give them the means to challenge the institutionalized racism that was prevalent in America at the time.
One of the counterarguments is that American society is not the root cause of inequity for African Americans. Instead, some argue that the underlying reason for inequality is due to African Americans’ proximity to poverty. Additionally, many people assert that Dubois’s ideology does not take into account human nature and the tendency for people to behave in their own self-interest17. In order for African Americans to gain equity, they would need to restructure American society- an endeavor that may be unfeasible or unrealistic.
In conclusion, Washington and Dubois were two of the most influential leaders of the African American community. They had very different philosophies, but both were instrumental in empowering their people. Washington was more conservative and believed that African Americans should work within the system to achieve equality. Dubois was more radical and believed that African Americans should stand up for their rights and demand equality. Both men were highly respected and had a huge impact on the advancement of civil rights for African Americans. In the end, they both succeeded in helping their people to become stronger and more empowered.
Brotz, Howard, and William Austin. 2017. African-American Social and Political Thought: 1850-1920. Routledge.
Dawson, Michael. 2020. Behind the Mule. Princeton University Press.
Feagin, Joe and Kimberley Ducey. 2018. Racist America: Roots, Current Realities, and Future Reparations. Routledge.
Hanses, Mathias. 2019. “Cicero Crosses the Color Line: Pro Archia Poeta and WEB Du Bois’s ‘The Souls of Black Folk’.” International Journal of the Classical Tradition.
Jordan, William. 2020. The Damnable Dilemma: African-American Accommodation and Protest during World War I. Routledge.
Kobayashi, Audrey. 2019. “Issues of Race and Early Radical Geography: Our Invisible Proponents.” Spatial Histories of Radical Geography: North America and Beyond.
Marquez, Bayley. 2019. Settler Pedagogy: The Hampton Institute and Schooling in Indian Country, the Black South, and Colonial Hawaii. University of California.
Morris, Aldon. 2017. The Scholar Denied: WEB Du Bois and The Birth of Modern Sociology. University of California Press.
Morris, Aldon. 2021 “WEB Du Bois: The Father of Pan-Africanism”. Manchester University Press. 89
Rosen, Hannah. 2017. “Teaching Race and Reconstruction.” Journal of the Civil War Era. 79.
Vinson, Robert Trent. 2018. “Up from Slavery and Down with Apartheid! African Americans and Black South Africans against the Global Color Line.” Journal of American Studies.
Wright, Earl. 2017. The First American School of Sociology: WEB Du Bois and the Atlanta Sociological Laboratory. Routledge.
- Vinson, Robert Trent. 2018. “Up from Slavery and Down with Apartheid! African Americans and Black South Africans against the Global Color Line.” Journal of American Studies. 296.
- Morris, Aldon. 2017. The Scholar Denied: WEB Du Bois and The Birth of Modern Sociology. University of California Press. 62.
- Jordan, William. 2020. The Damnable Dilemma: African-American Accommodation and Protest during World War I. Routledge. 76.
- Morris, Aldon. 2017. The Scholar Denied: WEB Du Bois and The Birth of Modern Sociology. University of California Press. 21.
- Wright, Earl. 2017. The First American School of Sociology: WEB Du Bois and the Atlanta Sociological Laboratory. Routledge. 31.
- Morris, Aldon. 2017. The Scholar Denied: WEB Du Bois and The Birth of Modern Sociology. University of California Press. 110.
- Vinson, Robert Trent. 2018. “Up from Slavery and Down with Apartheid! African Americans and Black South Africans against the Global Color Line.” Journal of American Studies. 297.
- Hanses, Mathias. 2019. “Cicero Crosses the Color Line: Pro Archia Poeta and WEB Du Bois’s ‘The Souls of Black Folk’.” International Journal of the Classical Tradition. 26.
- Feagin, Joe and Kimberley Ducey. 2018. Racist America: Roots, Current Realities, and Future Reparations. Routledge. 43.
- Feagin, Joe and Kimberley Ducey. 2018. Racist America: Roots, Current Realities, and Future Reparations. Routledge. 69.
- Brotz, Howard, and William Austin. 2017. African-American Social and Political Thought: 1850-1920. Routledge. 45.
- Jordan, William. 2020. The Damnable Dilemma: African-American Accommodation and Protest during World War I. Routledge. 88.
- Dawson, Michael. 2020. Behind the Mule. Princeton University Press. 14.
- Morris, Aldon. 2021 “WEB Du Bois: The Father of Pan-Africanism”. Manchester University Press. 89
- Kobayashi, Audrey. 2019. “Issues of “Race” And Early Radical Geography: Our Invisible Proponents.” Spatial Histories of Radical Geography: North America and Beyond. 39.
- Kobayashi, Audrey. 2019. “Issues of “Race” And Early Radical Geography: Our Invisible Proponents.” Spatial Histories of Radical Geography: North America and Beyond. 39.
- Rosen, Hannah. 2017. “Teaching Race and Reconstruction.” Journal of the Civil War Era. 79.