Elite African Americans Essay, Research Paper
During the Reconstruction period, congress sent to the states three important new amendments the Constitution. The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery, while the Fourteenth Amendment made black citizens, equal to their white counterparts. The fifteenth Amendment states that no citizens could be stopped from voting because of their race or color. There were high spirits and vision of progress among blacks in America. These feelings of joy and happiness lasted shortly when laws were passed that provided for the segregation of southern society into two parts. One for the whites and the other for the blacks. Among the chaos and confusion arisen two black elites in Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois. Although both approached the way to deal with oppression and assimilation differently, both enjoyed success in being respected and admired leaders who brought their people one step closer to really becoming free.
With the support of Northern missionary societies and a few Southern state governments, they expanded the network of black colleges and institutions into an important educational system Booker T. Washington, born into slavery had worked his own way out of poverty by acquiring an education. He as the founder and president of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Once established, he urged other blacks to follow the same road to self-improvement. Washington urged blacks to attend school, learn skills, and establish a strong footing in agriculture and trade. Blacks should refine their speech, improve their dress, and adopt habits of personal hygiene and cleanliness. Only when blacks do all these things will they win the respect of the white citizens. In a famous speech in Georgia in 1895, Washington outlined a philosophy of race relations that became known as the Atlanta Compromise. Washington stated the agitation of questions of racial equality is the extreme folly (Norton 614). He envisioned a society where blacks and whites would remain apart but world still share the same goals. As the first black leader to acquire a wide audience among his race, Washington proposed a powerful challenge to those whites who oppressed his people from overcoming such incredible odds. Washington s speech helped to awaken the interest of a new generation to the possibilities for advancement.
Black Americans faced impossible obstacles in challenging and conquering their oppressed status. Booker T. Washington s approach was to work for immediate self-improvement. Not all blacks agreed with this approach. By the early 1900 s a new leader within the black community emerge to challenge the African Americans oppressed status. W.E.B. DuBois, unlike Washington did not grew up in slavery. He was born in Massachusetts and educated at Harvard. Dubois disagreed with Washington, in that rather than content themselves with education at the trade and agricultural schools, advocated that talented blacks should except nothing less than a full university education. They should aspire to be professionals in whatever they do. Above all, black citizens should fight for the immediate restoration of their civil rights, and not simply wait for them to be grated by the whites. In 1905, DuBois and his supporters formed the National association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The new organization was successful in pursuing equal rights, using as its principle weapon, lawsuits in the federal court. The NAACP relied, on the efforts of the most intelligent and educated members of the black race, the talented tenth as DuBois called them. By forming these trained elites, blacks were creating a leadership group that was capable of fighting for the rights of the race as a whole.
Both Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Dubois faced enormous obstacles to become the leaders of the black race. Their main goals were to challenge the conquer the oppression and assimilation that had plagued their people. Both fought oppression with different approaches, and each came away some what successful. Washington s approach taught many blacks to improve their state of being, while DuBois created the NAACP to fight for the equal rights of his people. Both of these leaders made remarkable improvements in the black community, as they help to overcome oppression and assimilation in a racist society.