In the interview, Du Bois discusses Booker T., looks back on his controversial break with him and explains how their backgrounds accounted for their opposing views on strategies for black social progress Here is the full text of this classic in the literature of civil rights.
It is a prophetic work anticipating and inspiring much of the black consciousness and activism of the 1960s.
Washington, according to Du Bois, promoted submissiveness by asking that the Negro relinquish fundamental privileges.
Firstly, Washington asks for them to rid themselves of political power.
Du Bois contends that radicals saw this speech as an act of surrender to the white race.
African-Americans, they believed, were accepting their place in society.Instead of focusing on political power, Washington believed that the African-American needed to focus on personal development.Secondly, Washington had asked for African-Americans to give up their civil rights.This, he said, would win the respect of whites and lead to African Americans being fully accepted as citizens and integrated into all strata of society. In addition, he argued that social change could be accomplished by developing the small group of college-educated blacks he called “the Talented Tenth:” “The Negro Race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men.The problem of education then, among Negroes, must first of all deal with the “Talented Tenth.” It is the problem of developing the best of this race that they may guide the Mass away from the contamination and death of the worst.” At the time, the Washington/Du Bois dispute polarized African American leaders into two wings–the ‘conservative’ supporters of Washington and his ‘radical’ critics.He argues that Washington’s proposals for African-Americans resulted in the ultimate disenfranchisement of the Negro, the legal inferiority of this group, and the lack of aid to black colleges and universities.Instead of helping the African-American succeed, therefore, Washington was further stratifying them into positions of oppression.This site on Du Bois offers a lengthy biographical summary and a bilbiography of his writings and books.A summary of Booker T.’s life, philosophy and achievements, with a link to the famous September 1895 speech, “the Atlanta Compromise,” which propelled him onto the national scene as a leader and spokesman for African Americans.His persistence and advocacy created a link between blacks and whites, and facilitated a way in which blacks and whites could co-exist. Instead of providing accolades to the black community for their efforts, Washington stated that he wanted blacks to focus on industrial education, accumulation of wealth, and the conciliation of the South.Du Bois believed that someone familiar with the plight of the black man would not propose this to newly freed men.