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Black History Month 2012: History of Black Education

Washington and DuBois

Immediately following the Civil War, African Americans were faced with great discrimination and suffering. The newly free slaves were faced with the dilemma of carving a niche in a society that once regarded them as nothing more than property. During this period, two figures emerged as the preeminent leaders of two different philosophical camps. Booker T. Washington of Virginiaand William Edward Burghardt DuBois of Massachusetts, held two very different proposals regarding the best way for African Americans to improve their situations. While their methods may have differed, both of these remarkable men had a common goal in the uplift of the black community.

Born in Franklin County, Virginia in the mid-1850s, Booker T. Washington spent his early childhood in slavery. Following emancipation, Washington (like many Blacks) felt that a formalized education was the best way to improve his living standards. Due to social segregation, the availability of education for blacks in was fairly limited. In response, Washington traveled to Hampton Institute where he undertook industrial education. At Hampton, his studies focused on the acquisition of industrial or practical working skills as opposed to the liberal arts. Because of his experiences at Hampton, Washington went on to become an educator as well as an adamant supporter of industrial education, ultimately founding the Tuskegee Normal and Agricultural Institute. Washington felt that the best way for blacks to stabilize their future was to make themselves an indispensable faction of society by providing a necessity. “The individual who can do something that the world wants done will, in the end, make his way regardless of his race” (Washington 155).

As a Southerner himself,Washington was familiar with the needs of southern blacks as well as the treatment that they received.Washington stressed that Blacks should stop agitating for voting and civil rights not only in exchange for economic gains and security, but also for reduced anti-black violence. As such, his philosophies were more popular amongst southern blacks than northern blacks.Washington also garnered a large following from both northern and southern whites. Northern whites appreciated his efforts in a time when they were growing increasingly weary of the race problem; one that they associated with the South. Southern whites appreciated his efforts, because they perceived them as a complete surrender to segregation and self-uplift.


February 3, 2012 - Posted by | Black History Month | , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Thanks for the post . I did several reports on Booker T Washington eons ago while in school. And some of my grandkids are dong them as well. But thank you for the descriptions posted of these men.
    Carol L.

    Comment by Carol L. | February 4, 2012 | Reply

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