Paths to Racial Equality In the years after reconstruction, two men, Booker T. Washington and W.E.B.

DuBois, helped lead the newly free African Americans to racial equality. Both men had very different opinions of the paths that should be taken to get there. Washington claimed that the key to acceptance into American culture was economic security. DuBois, on the other hand, knew that the best course was one by political means. DuBois’ approach was more progressive and effective at eliminating discrimination and therefore helping African Americans to achieve racial equality. DuBois and Washington both saw the great obstacles standing in the way of racial equality. The neglect of education for the Negro race was the one impediment both men agreed upon. DuBois, though, acknowledged a few crucial problems that Washington seemed to dismiss. For one, DuBois saw the “social problem”(Blight 22) created by slavery. Slavery had established a “national memory”(Blight 23) that African Americans were, and would always be, of a lesser status than whites. DuBois also accused American’s for having no impetus to solve problems. “We” Americans, DuBois insisted, “congratulate ourselves more on getting rid of a problem than on solving it”(Blight 23). Although Washington did not acknowledge these issues, he did touch on one that was very important. He said that whites don’t see blacks as worthy or capable, but as “liars and chicken thieves”(Gibson). Although racial equality was the goal of both DuBois and Washington, they had different ideas on how that goal could be obtained. They both agreed that education was needed, for example, but they disagreed on the type of education. DuBois saw the need for the law to help the Negro race gain their equality. “The power of the ballot we need in sheer defense,” he said, “else what shall save us from a second slavery?”(Handout). If African American’s used their vote, DuBois pointed out; nothing could keep them from being equal with whites. He also thought that blacks had “no right to sit silently by”(handout) and let