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Masaryk University

Faculty of Arts

Department of English
and American Studies

English Language and Literature

Martin Slezák

Booker T. Washington and W.E.B Du Bois:

The Apple of Discord

Bachelor’s Diploma Thesis

Supervisor: Jeffrey Alan Vanderziel, B.A.


I declare that I have worked on this thesis independently,
using only the primary and secondary sources listed in the bibliography.


Author’s signature

Table of Contents

1.Introduction 5

1.Booker Taliaferro Washington 9

2.William Edward Burghardt Du Bois 14

3.Ideologies 17

4.1 Washington 17

4.2 W.E.B. Du Bois 20

4.Differences 24

5.1 Atlanta Exposition Address 24

5.2 Du Bois’s comments 27

5.3 Personal dislikes and the bones of contention 31

5.Conclusion 36

6.Bibliography 40

Resumé 43

Abstrakt 44


For many years, education for African American slaves was nothing but a thing to be feared, which can be seen in the fact that teaching African-Americans was punished as it was enforced by a form of law called "The Slave Codes": "9. It was illegal to teach slaves to read/write. It was illegal to give them books". After the Civil War ended in 1865, roughly four million African-Americans received that what they desperately strived for: freedom. Finally, they had access to freedom they had never experienced in this country. However, their freedom was only partial. They were still deprived of many opportunities and were by many still not seen as human beings. In other words, African-Americans did not immediately enter American society as full and equal citizens. American citizenship was provided for African-Americans in 1868 by the 14th Amendment. Establishing African-American citizenship did not instantaneously eradicate perceptions of African-Americans as inferior and subhuman. During this unique period of American history, African-Americans did their best to gain equality despite the circumstances. It proved to be a monumental task to live as full and free in the age of segregation.

It was a challenging effort to try and rebuild the society in the U.S. after the end of the Civil War, particularly in the South. African-Americans were obliged to establish opportunities for themselves to try and become participants of society, i.e. citizens. Politics, land ownership and education were not available to them prior to their freedom. Nevertheless, they were provided with such basic needs as food, clothing and a shelter. However, these things that were necessary for them to be on the same level of recognition as whites like legally recognized relationships and literacy were strictly regulated by laws and social norms. In particular, education was the only way they could demonstrate to the whites that they are as capable as they were. What is more, the education is a political matter as well. That is why in 1865 the schooling was not accessible for the public masses, African-American or white. It has been reserved for a certain class men and later in the years for white women as well. It was the key for African-Americans which they would unlock the doors leading to equality.

After the end of Reconstitution, in the 1880’s, the Southern ideologies regarding African-Americans, such as inferiority and segregation, had returned to be implemented into the society yet again, which challenged the efforts of African Americans to become participants of society. Due to the return of those ideologies, segregation was slowly implemented into the society. African-Americans needed a sympathetic ear, someone who would help them rise and press their needs in the higher levels of society. They needed leaders, who would serve as an example of what African-Americans are capable of. Those leaders are one of the most prominent African-American leaders: Booker T. Washington and W.E.B Du Bois.

This thesis’s aim is to elucidate the ideologies of both Booker T. Washington and W.E.B Du Bois to the readers and possibly find out if there was even the slightest chance that they could cooperate together and unite the African-American community and then possibly unveil the reason why they could not cooperate and the reason behind their opposition. In order to do so, I am going to analyze their writings namely Up from Slavery, The Souls of the Black Folk, their speeches like "The Atlanta Exposition Address" and The Niagara Movement Speech. With careful reading I will try to highlight their main ideas, differences, and direct or indirect comments on each another.

The first two chapters 2 and 3 are dedicated to Washington’s and Du Bois’s summary of their lives with the main focus on their childhood and early education they received. In order to highlight their differences and understand their ideologies and ideas, it is important to mention some of their crucial moments in lives beginning with their early childhood, to the sources of acquiring their education. Washington represents an entity of effort. From a slave to a African-American leader took a lot of effort and determination and he seized every opportunity that had been available to him. On the other hand, Du Bois, who never experienced slavery, and has been pursuing his greed for education and seizing the post of the most intelligent African-American leader there was.

In chapter 4 I will explore the ideologies of education of both Washington and Du Bois. Even though they differ in their backgrounds, forms of education and overall strategy of their ideologies, they both wanted to achieve the same goal for African-Americans, equality and proper education. They both established institutions through which they would provide a baseline for their followers. Booker T. Washington is known for his slow and passive approach towards uprising of African-American uplift and his focus on industrial education. He is a founder of Tuskegee Industrial and Normal Institute, with the aim on making African-Americans contributors to the society. His ideas were more popular with white folk and mostly Southerners. W.E.B Du Bois on the other hand strives for a quicker route and is more aggressive on the approach. His main focus is on academic education and civil rights. Du Bois’s ideas on the other hand, were much more popular with white abolitionists and Northerners. Although he was not as direct with establishing institution that would help African-Americans, he was pressing the issues through his speeches and with formation of groups such as the NAACP or The Niagara Movement, where he would promote African-American literature and art, and the importance of voting rights.

In the last chapter I will analyze parts of their speeches and individual works, more specifically the "Atlanta Exposition Address" and The Souls of the Black Folk. The "Atlanta Exposition Address" is probably the most known speech delivered by Washington, where he preaches his ideology and tries to explain it to a wider audience of both African-Americans and whites. As for Du Bois, I will be analyzing The Niagara Movement speech, article from The Crisis, which is an African-American magazine edited by Du Bois, and finally his work The Souls of the Black Folk. The Souls of the Black Folk is a collection of essays written by Du Bois, where he covers a wide range of topics, but more importantly a part where Du Bois reacts to Washington’s ideology. The Parts where they contradict each other or comment on each other (even if it is indirectly), and try to find out if there was a point where they could merge their ideologies together and perhaps provide a smoother approach for their goals. In addition, I will explore few essays and occasions where both Du Bois and Washington made personal comments on one another, and according to the information acquired try to identify their personal dislikes and what was the reason of their personal "hatred".

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