Cole Sebastian 10/4/13 Green In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, two African-American writers emerged as influential

visionaries for the African-American community: Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois. Both men affected the drive of African-Americans to succeed. They urged blacks to stop letting themselves be suppressed and to enter the workforce and provide self-independence. Born on April 5, 1856 Booker T. Washington was one of the last black leaders to be born into slavery. He served as an advisor to Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. As opposed to Washington, W.E.B Du Bois never saw the horrors of slavery. Born on February 23, 1868 Du Bois was raised in Great Barrington, Massachusetts in a relatively integrated community. While Washington claimed that the path to equality lay in economic independence, Du Bois knew that the power of the ballot was the most powerful tool in the fight for equality. Washington was an older and more well known then Du Bois. His views on economic independence for black Americans were more widespread than Du Bois’ ideas on political equality. Raised in slavery, Washington grew up with no economic independence. This is most likely what caused him to believe that “there must be for [African Americans] economic independence.” Washington’s life of servitude may have caused him to believe that blacks must accept segregation and join the working class. Upon experiencing his childhood surrounded by racism and pure hate, he knew it was impractical to expect that segregation would cease to exist and that blacks should simply work hard and would eventually became equal financially. “I not only learned that it was not a disgrace to labor, but learned to love labor, not alone for its financial value, but for labor’s own sake and for the independence…” says Washington when describing what he learned at Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (Hampton University). Washington’s challenging background greatly affected his views, which Du Bois lacks. Du Bois had a less conservative view on the path to equality than Washington and was determined to achieve complete equality in a political and social level. Although Du Bois claimed that he had a great respect for Washington he lay “a heavy responsibility for the consummation

Cole Sebastian 10/4/13 Green of Negro disfranchisement, the decline of the Negro college and the firmer establishment of color caste in [America]." (Du Bois, Crisis) Because of how Washington glorifies labor, Du Bois claims that Washington has caused African Americans to lose the will to become educated. Du Bois’ intent is for blacks to become educated voters with equal political power. “The power of the ballot we need in sheer defense, else what shall save us from a second slavery?” Du Bois knew that blacks could not change anything if they had no say in the government or federal and state election. But the government was not completely accepting of African American political power. Even with Washington and Du Bois’ influential work, the government had complete power over success of many African Americans. Although the government was helpful to blacks with the Freedmen's Bureau and other organizations, these government missions caused “Among a large class, … a dependence upon the government for every conceivable thing.” (Washington, 61). Washington is accusing the government of coddling citizens and not letting blacks find their own economic independence. W.E.B Du Bois faced a major government obstacle when striving to achieve power of the ballot for blacks, the Grandfather Clause. The Grandfather Clause, along with poll taxes and literacy tests, made it impossible for freedmen to vote. Government barriers like these are impenetrable no matter how many much one rallies the people. Today, African Americans have both economic independence and the power of the ballot, causing them to be equal under the law. But racism still rings true throughout many areas of the nation. Both Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois took huge strides to create true equality. There may be no right way to promote equality, and true equality may never be achieved. But there’s no way to create absolute equality without first acknowledging the biggest barrier, the people of America.

Cole Sebastian 10/4/13 Green

Cole Sebastian 10/4/13 Green

Cole Sebastian 10/4/13 Green