In the 1890s, the Ku Klux Klan terrorism and racial-segregation laws had basically taken over the south. The Civil War Reconstruction had failed to make sure that full rights had been granted to the freed slaves. African Americans desperately needed a way to respond to the white supremacists of that time. Two main advocates for Negro rights were Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois.
Booker T. Washington believed mainly in solving these problems through education. He believed in African Americans educating themselves through trades and investing in their own businesses. Proving to whites the value of their hard work could have an impact to the American economy. Du Bois also believed in self-improvement through education. However, he believed that first they must get rid of segregation. Du Bois criticized Washington’s acceptance of racial segregation because he felt that it only encouraged whites to deny African American rights.
I believe that Washington’s vision is more compelling only if it is the last resort. If there was no other way of getting out of racial segregation without violence and rioting, then showing white leaders the value of African Americans in society is the way to go. Washington believed that through working hard and improving yourself with education would show white supremacists their real impact in society.
The Story of John Jones illustrates the clear differences of being raised white verses black during that time period. It shows how even coming from a less-fortunate home one can still bounce back and make something of them selves. It addresses the issues between Dubois and Washington because it shows how even through racial segregation John was able to learn from it and better his community through his newfound knowledge of society.
1) Do you agree with Du bois or Washington’s method of approaching segregation?
2) Would you “accept” racial segregation if you felt that proving to society the value of the African Americans was the only way out?
Washington, Booker T. “Industrial Education for the Negro.” Teachingamericanhistory.org.
Du Bois, W.E.B. “The Souls of Black Folk.”
Costly, Andrew. “Three Visions for African Americans.” – Constitutional Rights Foundation. Web. 11 Oct. 2016.