Washington Vs. Du Bois

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?


Works Cited

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.



10 thoughts on “Washington Vs. Du Bois”

  1. Hi Allen. After reading these articles l can feel more about racial segregation and how Negro treated at that time. Booker T. Washington believes industrial training is the foundation for Negros to their values in society,and he wrote “In most cases if a Southern white man wanted a house built he consulted a Negro mechanic about the plan and about the actual building of the structure. If he wanted a suit of clothes made he went to a Negro tailor, and for shoes he went to a shoemaker of the same race.”(Washington) in his article. To W.E.B. Du Bois, Washington’s ambition is good, but it began at a wrong point that it is based on economic cast.

    Du Bois believes it matters one learn to be a man, not just learn how to work. To be more civilized, more think and improve is needed. To be specific, he wrote “The function of the Negro college, then, is clear: it must maintain the standards of popular education, it must seek the social regeneration of the Negro, and it must help in the solution of problems of race contact and cooperation.”(Du Bois)

    l think Du Bois’s opinion is more correct than Washington’s. Those who has racial segregation will not change their opinion even if you do well in your work. What important is communication between different races and education of them. Nobody needs to prove anything because we are same as we are all human beings. Although some people have racial discrimination and this problem continues for a long time, colored races can just keep moving on their own ways and ignore these people.

  2. Hello Allen, nicely written blog. To answer your first question, I agree more with Du Bois’ method of approaching segregation. You should be given your rights inherently. People should not have to prove that they are equal in order to receive rights, they should be immediately given to them because they are human. We are an intelligent species, it is ridiculous to put others of the same species lower than others because of the shade of their exterior. I understand that slow and steady can sometimes be the better choice, but allowing racism to continue just furthers racism, spreading it from generation to generation. To answer your second question, if the only possible way to escape racism was to prove the worth of colored people while still living in segregation, I guess I would accept it, but as I said before it would just perpetuate racism allowing segregation to persist.

  3. Hi Allen, thanks for your blog.
    I was thinking about your question regarding whose view about segregation is correct – Washington’s or Du Bois’. I don’t think the answer is as black and white as it may seem. In today’s world, I would imagine that everyone agrees with the Du Bois’ opinion of segregation and that all races should have equal educations, rights and aspirations. However, during that period of time when both Washington and Du Bois lived and wrote, things may have been different and Du Bois’ words on the matter may have seemed like the more radical and outlandish outlook. The story of John Jones illustrates that for the people of those times, education could actually “spoil” a black person and change who he is. John was once a fun, lovable, good-natured boy who went off to college and became a serious, cold, snobbish person. Although John says he is happy he went to school and became a thinking person, doing so cut him off from his family and from the people of his town. We can understand that in such circumstances perhaps higher education is not the most ideal for a colored person. It seems understandable that Washington came to his conclusion, that blacks should stick to what they are used to, based on his foresight of situations like that of John Jones. Washington didn’t envision a bright future for “thinking” black men.

  4. Hi Allen, I agree with your blog. Washington was trying to do what he thought was best. Maybe he thought it was a last resort, but he was trying to educate as well as give them the training that would be the” secrets of civilization”. He knew that the white man would go for advice to the Negro because they were trained in building structures, carpenters, mechanics, brick masons, blacksmiths, engineers and so on. It was important for the Negro to be respected for their skills . He didn’t want them to learn only to do work for others. He wanted them to have a foundation for themselves and for the generations to come.
    Du Bois did get his education from Harvard University so probably had a different way of looking at things since experiencing the elite foundation. He had a vision. He said, “colleges that yearly would send into the life of the South a few white men and a few black men of broad culture, catholic tolerance, and trained ability, joining their hands to other hands, and giving to this squabble of the Races a decent and dignified peace?” He was right.

  5. Hi Allen, good job! In regards to your questions, I agree far more with Du Bois’ method of approaching segregation rather than Washington’s. One should aim to further their self worth and respect through education, not be content with the little, if any, worth and respect through work: “Proving to whites the value of their hard work could have an impact to the American economy.” I understand that in a time where agriculture and industrial work ruled the economy some value would be given to the people actually carrying out the work, but I do not believe that is the only way to approach segregation. However, Yehuda’s response did give me a new perspective when comparing both methods. That did not come to mind when analyzing both methods, so that should be an interesting point to discuss in class today. Moreover, I would not accept racial segregation even if I felt that was the only way out. I’m sure many during that time period did just that, and in the end, witnessed a different outcome due to other methods carried out by people who would not conform.

  6. This is a very good detailed blog! You wrote good facts about both Washington and DuBois. They both has different perspectives on how Negroes can attain respect and educate themselves. Washington had a view that they should focus on labor skills more instead of education. I agree with what you said in your blog that, “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.” His view was to make them submissive of their rights. DuBois said that no matter what everything and everyone should be equal. There should be no segregation. I also agree more with DuBois’ view. Although I also read Yehuda and Juliana’s post and they are right. Maybe in that time period there was more going on. It was necessary to show people who underestimated Negroes, that they are needed.

  7. I found Washington’s and DuBois’ difference in opinions on segregation to be fascinating. Their conclusions were different but their reasoning and goals were the same: the betterment of black people’s lives in America. I would probably use DuBois’ method to approaching imporovement of black civil rights, for desegregation has shown many people the pointlessness of racism (although we still have a ways to go). I completely understand Washington’s perspective on segregation though, for after being mistreated and abused by a certain people, desegregation could be perceived as joining those certain people. I believe that Washington always had the best intent for Black lives in America, but he basically wanted to grow internally and with minimal interaction with the people that had acted so wrongly before.

  8. Hey Allen, great post and great explanations of the two different views on overcoming racial segregation. I must say that Du Bois had the more valid method of overcoming segregation as education really is one of the best methods of leveling the playing field among individuals. Education proves that any individual can increase their capabilities through hard work and shows that there is no “inferior” race, as was believed by white supremacists of the time. Simply accepting things as they are achieves absolutely nothing, surrender only makes the aggressors job easier. In order for any issue to be overcome, there must be resistance and opposition; this is most true in the context of the struggles for civil rights in the decades following the abolishment of slavery. The reality is, people are extremely stubborn and hesitant when it comes to changing their views on matters, and simply accepting a lower status will achieve nothing. Du Bois had the right opinion and I believe it has proven itself time and time again.

  9. Washington and DuBois had two different approaches, but they both wanted to improve black people’s lives and grant them rights that they deserve. I agree more with DuBois’s perspective because everyone should be treated equally no matter their race. DuBois brings in a long lasting aspect, since he was educated. He knew that in order for segregation to lessen we have to prove your capability. Proving your hard work can have an impact and make others feel that you should be valued. This can be done by educating yourself and proving that you indeed deserve to have rights.

  10. The article was talking about the racial segregation. Booker T. Washington thought that African Americans should proving to white their values by hard working, educate themselves; Du Bois thought that first they must get rid of segregation. I am agree with Du Bois opinion. There is no different between black and white, blacks don’t need to prove themselves to anyone. Washington’s thoughts showed that he still put black and white in different sides, but they are totally the same, they are equal human beings. The racial segregation issue was like a tree; Du Bois’s thought was the trunk, which was much more important and stronger or powerful than Washigton’s idea; Washigton’s idea can be a branch, it might have effect on this problem, but it can’t resolve the fundamental problem.

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