February 27, 2006
Booker T. Washington Era
By Dr. Frank J. Collazo
The scope of the report addresses Booker T. Washington's accomplishments and pioneering in the social and cultural aspects of black people and promotes ways to develop the black community during the entire period of his life. He was the architect of the peaceful movement of industrial training for blacks in the South. He opened the door for other blacks to pursue the civil rights movement. Booker T Washington had common ground on some education issues with W.E.B Dubois but disagreed with him in the methodology of achieving the results.
Booker T Washington was an African American first in contrast to W.E.B. Dubois who was a registered communist and had controversial views about achieving civil rights with communist doctrine tendencies. At the end of his career and life, he declared himself a communist. There are examples of some blacks reaching prominence in the economic sphere in the United States of America.
Booker T. Washington, 1856-1915, Educator. Booker Taliaferro Washington was the foremost black educator of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He also had a major influence on southern race relations and was the dominant figure in black public affairs from 1895 until his death in 1915. Born a slave on a small farm in the Virginia backcountry, he moved with his family after emancipation to work in the salt furnaces and coalmines of West Virginia. After a secondary education at Hampton Institute, he taught an upgraded school and experimented briefly with the study of law and the ministry, but a teaching position at Hampton decided his future career. In 1881 he founded Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute on the Hampton model in the Black Belt of Alabama.
Booker taught two years at Hampton before he was asked to fill the position at Tuskegee as headmaster. He worked hard to find financing to make the school a success. Booker transformed Tuskegee from a small, poor and little known school into a world famous center for vocational training (Conley 396).
"Early in the history of the Tuskegee Institute we began to combine industrial training with mental and moral culture. Our first efforts were in the direction of agriculture, and we began teaching this with no appliances except one hoe and a blind mule." (Washington 15).
Though Washington offered little that was innovative in industrial education, which both northern philanthropic foundations and southern leaders were already promoting, he became its chief black exemplar and spokesman. In his advocacy of Tuskegee Institute and its educational method, Washington revealed the political adroitness and accommodation philosophy that were to characterize his career in the wider arena of race leadership. He convinced southern white employers and governors that Tuskegee offered an education that would keep blacks "down on the farm" and in the trades. To prospective northern donors and particularly the new self-made millionaires such as Rockefeller and Carnegie he promised the inculcation of the Protestant work ethic. President Theodore Roosevelt invited Booker T Washington to dinner at the White House opposed by the Southern Democrats.
To blacks living within the limited horizons of the post-Reconstruction South, Washington held out industrial education as the means of escape from the web of sharecropping and debt and the achievement of attainable, petit-bourgeois goals of self-employment, landownership, and small business. Washington cultivated local white approval and secured a small state appropriation, but it was northern donations that made Tuskegee Institute by 1900 the best-supported black educational institution in the country.
The Atlanta Compromise Address, delivered before the Cotton States Exposition in 1895, enlarged Washington's influence into the arena of race relations and black leadership. Washington offered black acquiescence in disfranchisement and social segregation if whites would encourage black progress in economic and educational opportunity. Hailed as a sage by whites of both sections, Washington further consolidated his influence by his widely read autobiography Up From Slavery (1901), the founding of the National Negro Business League in 1900, his celebrated dinner at the White House in 1901, and control of patronage politics as chief black advisor to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.
Washington kept his white following by conservative policies and moderate utterances, but he faced growing black and white liberal opposition in the Niagara Movement (1905-9) and the NAACP (1909-) groups demanding civil rights and encouraging protest in response to white aggressions such as lynching, disfranchisement, and segregation laws. Washington successfully fended off these critics, often by underhanded means. At the same time, however, he tried to translate his own personal success into black advancement through secret sponsorship of civil rights suits, serving on the boards of Fisk and Howard universities and directing philanthropic aid to these and other black colleges. His speaking tours and private persuasion tried to equalize public educational opportunities and to reduce racial violence. These efforts were generally unsuccessful, and the year of Washington's death marked the beginning of the Great Migration from the rural South to the urban North. Washington's racial philosophy, pragmatically adjusted to the limiting conditions of his own era, did not survive the change.
From his difficult and humble beginnings as a slave on a tobacco plantation in the Virginia Hills, Booker T. Washington was raised "Up From Slavery" during one of the lowest periods of race relations in American history, to become one of the greatest leaders of the African American race and a voice for the conscience of the American south.
He built a successful school, Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (Tuskegee Institute), now an endowed university, in the midst of former slaveholders. There he taught and demonstrated to the poorest and the most disenfranchised of his race the uplifting paths of faith in God, family, education, character development, the dignity of excellence in one’s work, self respect, and the power of economic development. He was the founder and first president of the National Negro Business League, the first organization of its kind established solely for the purpose of the promotion and the advancement of Black Business Enterprise. He was the first person in the United States to convene an international conference addressing the concerns of Black people throughout the world.
His was a relatively brief life, only fifty-nine years in duration, yet it was an extraordinary life spent in the uplift of and service to others. It was a life of high ideals, action and productivity, which culminated in a great and lasting work, still in evidence today. At his death he was still a towering national influence among all races and among all social strata, and he was deeply admired and respected throughout the world.
He received more distinguished honors than had ever accorded a man of the African-American race. He had the ear of two United States presidents, and he was the first African American to dine at the White House with Theodore R. Roosevelt and to share tea at Buckingham Palace with the Queen of England. He was the first African American to receive an honorary Masters Degree from Harvard University and an honorary Doctor of Philosophy Degree from Dartmouth College. He was the first African-American to be named to the National Hall of Fame and to be honored on a postage stamp and commemorated on a coin. Mr. Washington was the first African American to have a United States naval vessel named for him, and the first African-American to have a giant California Sequoia tree named in his honor. He was the first African-American to have schools and organizations all over the country bear his name, and the first African-American whose birthplace was declared a national monument.
Yet, with all that he accomplished personally, perhaps his greatest legacy is what he helped millions of others to accomplish. He was able, in only a relatively short time after slavery had been abolished, to help so many of his race to obtain an education, start a business, and establish a home. These individuals were, in turn, taught to go out into their communities and help others secure the same.
What is it about this exceptional man that at the dawn of the 21st century, ninety years after his death, we still pause to consider his vision for racial and economic advancement? Could it be, that as we revisit his deep spiritual and economic wisdom that the liberating truth of his words is as applicable today for the progress of our race, or for any advancing race for that matter, as it was when it was first spoken many years ago?
Booker T. Washington aptly proclaimed that, "The future is always built out of the materials of the past."
Prominence Among Blacks: The 1870s to the start of World War I, the period when African American educator Booker T. Washington was gaining prominence, was also a difficult time for African Americans. The vote proved elusive and civil rights began to vanish through court action. Lynching, racial violence, and slavery's twin children peonage and sharecropping arose as deadly quagmires on the path to full citizenship. After Reconstruction ended in 1877, the federal government virtually turned a deaf ear to the voice of the African American populace.
Yet in this era blacks were educated in unprecedented numbers, hundreds received degrees from institutions of higher learning, and a few, like W.E.B. Dubois and Carter G. Woodson, went on for the doctorate. While only a small percentage of the black population had been literate at the close of the Civil War, by the turn of the twentieth century, the majority of all African Americans were literate. The Library of Congress houses the papers of three presidents of Tuskegee Institute: Booker T. Washington, Robert Russia Moton, and Frederick Douglass Patterson, and other important manuscripts and photographs relating to the establishment, operations, aspirations, and success of historically black colleges and universities.
Also at this time, African American artistic genius in music, painting, sculpture, literature, and dance became more evident to white society at large. Some of the artists of this period, including poet Paul Laurence Dunbar and the Fisk Jubilee Singers, won international acclaim. This section of the exhibit demonstrates the progress of blacks in the last decades of the nineteenth century.
This period has been called the "nadir" of black history because so many gains earned after the Civil War seemed lost by the time of World War I, and because racial violence and lynching reached an all time high. However, blacks and whites founded both the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the National Urban League (NUL) during this time. The papers of both of these major civil rights organizations, which are among the holdings in the Library's Manuscript Division, document the unswerving efforts on the part of blacks and their white allies to insure that the nation provide "freedom and justice to all."
Born a slave in Virginia in 1856, Booker T. Washington managed to get a primary education that allowed his probationary admittance to Hampton Institute. There he proved such an exemplary student, teacher, and speaker that the principal of Hampton recommended Washington to Alabamians who were trying to establish a school for African Americans in their state.
Washington and his students built the school, named Tuskegee Institute after its location, from the ground up. As a result of his work as an educator and public speaker, Washington became influential in business and politics. His vast collection of personal papers, as well as many early records of Tuskegee Institute, is housed in the Manuscript Division.
Booker T. Washington founded Tuskegee Institute in 1881 under a charter from the Alabama legislature for the purpose of training teachers in Alabama. Tuskegee's program providing students with both academic and vocational training. The students, under Washington's direction, built their own buildings, produced their own food, and provided for most of their own basic necessities. The Tuskegee faculty utilized each of these activities to teach the students basic skills that they could share with African American communities throughout the South.
Frances Benjamin Johnston was commissioned to photograph Tuskegee in 1902. This photograph shows a history class learning about Native Americans and Captain John Smith in Virginia.
Dunbar to Washington -- Defending Artistic Freedom: At the turn of the century, Paul Laurence Dunbar was the most celebrated black writer in America. Although Dunbar's reputation rested on his mastery of dialect verse, he also demonstrated skill as a short story writer, novelist, playwright, and librettist. In 1902 Booker T. Washington commissioned Dunbar to write the school song for Tuskegee Institute. Dunbar wrote his lyrics to the tune of "Fair Harvard." Washington was not pleased with the "Tuskegee Song." He objected to Dunbar's emphasis of "the industrial idea" and the exclusion of biblical references. In this letter to Washington, Dunbar defends his artistic sensibility.
Booker T. Washington's Atlanta Compromise Speech: Booker T. Washington was already a popular educator and speaker when he gave this speech in Atlanta. The speech catapulted him into national prominence. In the text he challenged both races to adjust to post-emancipation realities. He stated that the races could work together as one hand while socially remaining as separate as the fingers. At the time, Washington's statement, offering reconciliation between the races, pleased most Americans. Increasingly, however, as racial violence and discrimination against blacks escalated at the turn of the century, African American leaders began to believe that the speech represented not a compromise but a capitulation.
Dubois Congratulates Washington: Although W. E. B. Dubois would later publish his pointed challenge to Booker T. Washington's educational and political philosophy in his celebrated work, Souls of Black Folk (1903), at the time of Washington's Atlanta speech, Dubois wrote this letter to express his congratulations.
In 1905 W. E. B. Dubois and black militant journalist William Monroe Trotter organized a meeting of black intellectuals and professionals in Niagara Falls, Canada, to demand full citizenship rights for African Americans: freedom of speech, an "unfettered and unsubsidized" press, recognition of the principle of human brotherhood, the right of the best training available for all people, and belief in the dignity of labor. The Niagara Movement later allied with an interracial group to form the NAACP.
A Biographical Sketch
By Gerald C. Hynes
Introduction: William Edward Burghardt Dubois, to his admirers, was by spirited devotion and scholarly dedication, an attacker of injustice and a defender of freedom.
A harbinger of Black Nationalism and Pan-Africanize, he died in self-imposed exile in his home away from home with his ancestors of a glorious past—Africa.
Labeled as a "radical," he was ignored by those who hoped that his massive contributions would be buried along side of him. But, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote, "history cannot ignore W.E.B. Dubois because history has to reflect truth and Dr. Dubois was a tireless explorer and a gifted discoverer of social truths. His singular greatness lay in his quest for truth about his own people. There were very few scholars who concerned themselves with honest study of the black man and he sought to fill this immense void. The degree to which he succeeded disclosed the great dimensions of the man."
His Formative Years: W.E.B. Dubois was born on February 23, 1868 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. At that time Great Barrington had perhaps 25, but not more than 50, Black people out of a population of about 5,000. Consequently, there were little signs of overt racism there. Nevertheless, its venom was distributed through a constant barrage of suggestive innuendoes and vindictive attitudes of its residents. This mutated the personality of young William from good natured and outgoing to sullen and withdrawn. This was later reinforced and strengthened by inner withdrawals in the face of real discriminations. His demeanor of introspection haunted him throughout his life.
Dubois showed a keen concern for the development of his race during his high school years. At age fifteen he became the local correspondent for the New York Globe. And in this position he conceived it his duty to push his race forward by lectures and editorials reflecting upon the need of Black people to politicized themselves.
Dubois was naturally gifted intellectually and took pleasurable pride in surpassing his fellow students in academic and other pursuits. Upon graduation from high school, he, like many other New England students of his caliber, desired to attend Harvard. However, he lacked the financial resources to go to that institution. But with the aid of friends and family and a scholarship he received to Fisk College (now University), he eagerly headed to Nashville, Tennessee to further his education.
This was Dubois' first trip south. And in those three years at Fisk (1885–1888) his knowledge of the race problem became more definite. He saw discrimination in ways he never dreamed of and developed a determination to expedite the emancipation of his people. Consequently, he became a writer, editor, and an impassioned orator. And in the process acquired a belligerent attitude toward the color bar.
Also, while at Fisk, Dubois spent two summers teaching at a county school in order to learn more about the South and his people. There he learned first hand of poverty, poor land, ignorance, and prejudice. But most importantly, he learned that his people had a deep desire for knowledge.
After graduation from Fisk, Dubois entered Harvard (via scholarships) classified as a junior. As a student his education focused on philosophy and centered in history. It then gradually began to turn toward economics and social problems. As determined, as he was to attend and graduate from Harvard, he never felt himself a part of it. Later in life he remarked, "I was in Harvard but not of it." He received his bachelor's degree in 1890 and immediately began working toward his master and doctor's degree.
Dubois completed his master's degree in the spring of 1891. However, shortly before that, ex-president Rutherford B. Hayes, the current head of a fund to educate Negroes, was quoted in the Boston Herald as claiming that they could not find one worthy to enough for advanced study abroad. Dubois' anger inspired him to apply directly to Hayes. His credentials and references were impeccable. He not only received a grant, but a letter from Hayes saying that he was misquoted. Dubois chose to study at the University of Berlin in Germany. It was considered to be one of the world's finest institutions of higher learning. And Dubois felt that a doctor's degree from there would infer unquestionable preparation for ones life's work.
During the two years Dubois spent in Berlin, he began to see the race problems in the Americas, Africa, and Asia, and the political development of Europe as one. This was the period of his life that united his studies of history, economics, and politics into a scientific approach of social research.
Dubois had completed a draft of his dissertation and needed another semester or so to finish his degree. But the men over his funding sources decided that the education he was receiving there was unsuitable for the type of work needed to help Negroes. They refused to extend him any more funds and encouraged him to obtain his degree from Harvard. Which of course he was obliged to do. His doctoral thesis, The Suppression of the African Slave Trade in America, remains the authoritative work on that subject and is the first volume in Harvard's Historical Series.
Easing On Down the Road: At the age of twenty-six, with twenty years of schooling behind him, Dubois felt that he was ready to begin his life's work. He accepted a teaching job at Wilberforce in Ohio at the going rate of $800.00 per year. (He also had offers from Lincoln in Missouri and Tuskegee in Alabama.) The year 1896 was the dawn of a new era for Dubois. With his doctorate degree and two undistinguished years at Wilberforce behind him, he readily accepted a special fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania to conduct a research project in Philadelphia's seventh ward slums. This responsibility afforded him the opportunity to study Blacks as a social system.
Dubois plunged eagerly into his research. He was certain that the race problem was one of ignorance. And he was determined to unearth as much knowledge as he could, thereby providing the "cure" for color prejudice. His relentless studies led into historical investigation, statistical and anthropological measurement, and sociological interpretation. The outcome of this exhaustive endeavor was published as The Philadelphia Negro: "It revealed the Negro group as a symptom, not a cause; as a striving, palpitating group, and not an inert, sick body of crime; as a long historic development and not a transient occurrence." This was the first time such a scientific approach to studying social phenomena was undertaken, and as a consequence Dubois is acknowledged as the father of Social Science.
After the completion of the study, Dubois accepted a position at Atlanta University to further his teachings in sociology. For thirteen years there he wrote and studied Negro morality, urbanization, Negroes in business, college-bred Negroes, the Negro church, and Negro crime. He also repudiated the widely held view of Africa as a vast cultural cipher by presenting a historical version of complex, cultural development throughout Africa. His studies left no stone unturned in his efforts to encourage and help social reform. It is said that because of his outpouring of information "there was no study made of the race problem in America which did not depend in some degree upon the investigations made at Atlanta University."
During this period an ideological controversy grew between Dubois and Booker T. Washington, which later grew into a bitter personal battle. Washington from 1895, when he made his famous "Atlanta Compromise" speech, to 1910 was the most powerful black man in the America. Whatever grant, job placement or any endeavor concerning Blacks that influential whites received was sent to Washington for endorsement or rejection. Hence, the "Tuskegee Machine" became the focal point for Black input/output. Dubois was not opposed to Washington's power, but rather, he was against his ideology/ methodology of handling the power. On one hand Washington decried political activities among Negroes and on the other hand dictated Negro political objectives from Tuskegee.
Washington argued the Black people should temporarily forego "political power, insistence on civil rights, and higher education of Negro youth. They should concentrate all their energies on industrial education." Dubois believed in the higher education of a "Talented Tenth" who through their knowledge of modern culture could guide the American Negro into a higher civilization.
The culmination of the conflict came in 1903 when Dubois published his now famous book, The Souls of Black Folks. The chapter entitled "Of Booker T. Washington and Others" contains an analytical discourse on the general philosophy of Washington. Dubois edited the chapter himself to keep the most controversial and bitter remarks out of it. Nevertheless, it still was more than enough to incur Washington's continued contempt for him.
In the early summer of 1905 Washington went to Boston to address a rally. While speaking he was verbally assaulted by William Monroe Trotter (a Harvard college friend of Dubois). The subsequent jailing of Trotter on trumped-up charges, apparently by Washingtonites, raised the wrath of Dubois. This incident caused Dubois to solicit help from others "for organized determination and aggressive action on the part of men who believe in Negro freedom and growth.
Twenty-nine men from fourteen states answered the call in Buffalo, New York. Five months later in January of 1906 the "Niagara Movement" was formed. The meeting was held at the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. (They were prevented from meeting on the U.S. side.) Its objectives were to advocate civil justice and abolish caste discrimination. The downfall of the group was attributed to public accusations of fraud and deceit instigated and engineered presumably by Washington advocates, and Dubois' inexperience with organizations and the internal strain from the dynamic personality of Trotter. In 1909 all members of the Niagara Movement save one merged with some white liberals and thus the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was born. Dubois was not altogether pleased with the group but agreed to stay on as Director of Publications and Research.
The main artery for distributing NAACP policy and news concerning Blacks was the Crisis magazine, which Dubois autocratically governed as its editor-in-chief for some twenty-five years. He was of no mind to follow pedantically the Associations views, and therefore wrote only that which he felt could lift the coffin lid off his people. His hot, raking editorials oftentimes lead to battles within the ranks of the Association. Besides this, the NAACP was, at that time, under the leadership of whites, to which Dubois objected. He always felt that Blacks should lead, and that if whites were to be included at all, it should be in a supportive role. The meteoric and sustained rise in the circulation of the Crisis, making it self-supporting, tranquilized the moderates within the Association. This afforded Dubois the ability to continue his assault on the injustices heaped upon the Blacks.
World War I had dramatic affects on the lives of Black folks. Firstly, the Armed Forces refused Black inductees, but finally relinquished and put the "colored folks" in subservient roles. Secondly, while the war was raging, Blacks in the southern states were moving north where industry was desperately looking for workers. Ignorant, frightened whites, led by capitalist instigators, were fearful that Blacks would totally consume the job market. Thus, lynching ran rampant. Finally, after the war, Black veterans returned home to the same racist country they had fought so heroically to defend.
Dr. Dubois, using the Crisis as his vehicle, hurled thunderbolts of searing script, scorching the "dusty veil" and revealing the innards of a country whose quivering heart beat bigotry. So vitriolic and eloquent was his pen that subsequent reaction from his followers caused congressional action to:
His articles never quit. The countryside was inundated with DuBois' unmitigated protest. This period marked the height of Dubois' popularity. The Crisis magazine subscription rate had grown from 1000 in 1909 to over 10,000 in May of 1919. His "Returning Soldier" editorial climaxed the period. "By the God of Heaven, we are cowards and jackasses if now that the war is over, we do not marshal every ounce of our brain and brawn to fight the forces of hell in our own land.
Shortly after the Armistice was signed, Dubois sailed for France in 1919 to represent the NAACP as an observer at the Peace Conference. While there he decided it was an opportune time to organize a Pan-African conference to bring attention to the problems of Africans around the world. While this was not the first Pan-African Congress (the first one was held in 1900) he had long been interested in the movement. While a few revolutionaries lauded the concept, it failed because of lack of interest by the more influential Black organizations.
Dubois realized that for Africans to be free anywhere, they must be free everywhere. He therefore decided to hold another Pan-African meeting in 1921. While this one was better organized, he was dealt double trouble. First, following the war, "a political and social revolution, economic upheaval and depression, national and racial hatred made a setting in which any such movement was entirely out of the Question." More importantly, however, was the encounter with the astonishing Marcus Garvey.
"Unlike Dubois, Garvey was able to gain mass support and had tremendous appeal." He established the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) for the purpose of uniting Africa and her descendants. He instituted the visionary concept of buying ships for overseas trade and travel; he issued forth uncompromising orations on race relations and inspiration. You can accomplish what you will!" He held pageants and parades through "Harlem" with red, black, and green liberation flags flying. (The colors symbolize the skin, blood, hopes and growth potential of Black people. The green is also symbolic of the earth.). His methodology was refreshing and inspiring. And it was in direct contrast to the intellectual style of Dubois.
Dubois' first efforts were to explain away the Garvey movement and ignore it. But it was a mass movement and could not be ignored.
Marcus Garvey Conflict: Later, when Garvey began to collect money for his steamship line, Dubois characterized him as "a hard-working idealist, but his methods are bombastic, wasteful, illogical and almost illegal." Marcus Garvey, choosing to ignore the critiques of Dubois, continued with his undertakings until charges of fraud were brought against him. He was imprisoned and upon his release, he was exiled from the United States. He died in 1941. The white press amplified the conflict between the two men. It also served to debilitate the progress of the future planned Pan-African Congress.
Pan African Congress: Nevertheless, Dubois held his conference in 1923 and as expected the turnout was small. When the conference was concluded, he set sail for Africa for the first time. During the trip through "the eternal world of Black folk" he made a characteristic observation –"The world brightens as it darkens." His racial romanticism was given free reign as he wrote –"The spell of Africa is upon me."
Ideology Change: Returning home from his African experience, Dubois had a chance to reflect upon his past. Dubois noted how America tactically sidestepped the issues of color, and how his approach of "educate and agitate" appeared to fall on deaf ears. He felt that his ideological approach to the "problem of the twentieth century" had to be revised.
Russian Revolution: The Russian Revolution of 1917 illuminated and made clear the change in his basic thought. The revolution concerned itself with the problem of poverty. "Russia was trying to put into the hands of those people who do the world's work the power to guide and rule the state for the best welfare of the masses." Dubois' trip to Russia in 1927, his learning about Marx and Engles, his seeing the beginning of a new nation form with regard to class, prompted him to say –"My day in Russia was the day of communist beginnings." He could no longer support integration as present tactics and relegated it to a long-range goal. Unable to trust white politicians, white capitalists of white workers, he invested everything in the segregated socialized economy. His ideology carried over to his editorials in the Crisis magazine.
NAACP Policy Change: By 1930 he had become thoroughly convinced that the basic policies and ideals of the NAACP must be modified and/or discarded. There were two alternatives:
1. Change the board of directors of the NAACP (who were mostly white) so as to substitute a group that agreed with his program.
2. Leave the organization.
By 1933 Dubois decided his financial, organizational and ideological battles with the NAACP were unendurable, and he recommended that the Crisis suspend its operation. He resumed his duties at Atlanta University and there upon completed two major works.
Dubois’ Books: His book Black Reconstruction dealt with the socio-economic development of the nation after the Civil War. This masterpiece portrayed the contributions of the Black people to this period, whereas before, the Blacks were always portrayed as disorganized and chaotic.
Dusk of Dawn: His second book of this period, Dusk of Dawn, was completed in 1940 and expounded his concepts and views on both the African and African American's quest for freedom.
As in years past, Dubois never relented in attacks upon imperialism, especially in Africa.
The World and Africa: The World and Africa was written as a contradiction to the pseudo-historians who consistently omitted Africa from world history.
UN Conference: In 1945 he served as an associate consultant to the American delegation at the founding conference of the United Nations in San Francisco. He charged the world organization with planning to be dominated by imperialist nations and not intending to intervene on the behalf of colonized countries.
Fifth Pan African Congress: He announced that the fifth Pan-African Congress would convene to determine what pressure could be applied to the world powers. This conference was dotted with an all-star cast:
1. Came Nkrumah, dedicated revolutionary father of Ghanaian independence, and first president of Ghana.
2. George Padmore, an international revolutionary, often called the "Father of African Emancipation," later became Kwame Nkrumah's advisor on African Affairs.
3. Jomo Kenyatta, called the "burning spear," reputed leader of the Mau Mau uprising, and first president of independent Kenya.
The congress elected Dubois International President and cast him a "Father of Pan-Africanism.” Thus, W.E.B. DuBois entered into his last phase as a protest propagandist, committed beyond a single social group to a world conception of proletarian liberation.
Alienation: Always antagonizing and making guilty groups feel extremely uncomfortable, he wrote in 1949: "We want to rule Russia and cannot rule Alabama." As a member of the left-wing American Labor Party he wrote: "Drunk with power, we (the U.S.) are leading the world to hell in a new colonialism with the same old human slavery, which once ruined us to a third world war which will ruin the world."
As the chairman of the Peace Information Center, he demanded the outlawing of atomic weapons. The Secretary of State denounced it as Soviet propaganda. Jumping at the chance to quiet "that old man," the U.S. Department of Justice ordered Dubois and others to register as agents of a "foreign principal." Dubois refused and was immediately indicted under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Sufficient evidence was lacking, therefore Dubois was acquitted.
The subversive activity initiated by the U.S. government acted as a catalyst in the alienation Dubois already felt for the present system. His feelings were heard around the world in 1959. While in Peking he told a large audience –"In my own country for nearly a century I have been nothing but a NIGGER." By the time the U.S. press published the account, he was residing in Ghana; an expatriate from the United States. President Nkrumah welcomed Dubois and asked him to direct the government-sponsored Encyclopedia Africana. The offer was accepted graciously and a year later, in the final months of his life, Dubois became a Ghanaian citizen and an official member of the Communist party.
Free at Last: On August 27,1963, on the eve of the March On Washington, Dubois died in Accra, Ghana. His role as a pioneering Pan-Africans was memorialized by the few who understood the genius of the man and neglected by the many who were afraid that his loquacious espousals would unite the oppressed throughout the world into revolution.
"I sit with Shakespeare, and he winces not. Across the color line I move arm and arm with Balzac and Dumas, where smiling men and welcoming women glide in gilded halls. From out of the caves of evening that swing between the strong-limbed Earth and the tracery of stars, I summon Aristotle and Aurelius and what soul I will, and they come all graciously with no scorn nor condescension. So, wed with Truth, I dwell above the veil."
W.E.B. Dubois and the 1900 Paris Exposition:
Included in an award-winning exhibit at the Paris Exposition, this photograph--one of 500--was part of the evidence collected under the direction of W. E. B. Dubois to illustrate the condition, education, and literature of African Americans at the turn of the twentieth century, only thirty-five years after the abolition of slavery. In his own description of the exhibit, Dubois noted that by 1900 African Americans owned one million acres of land and paid taxes on twelve million dollars worth of property. In addition to photographs about black-owned businesses like this one in Georgia, the exhibit included a number of images related to successful black businesses elsewhere. The related display in the foyer of the Library's John Adams Building features additional photographs of black businesses assembled for the Paris Exposition.
African Americana at the Library of Congress: Daniel Alexander Payne Murray was a successful African American businessman, librarian, and historian who worked for the Library of Congress for fifty-two years beginning in 1871. In late 1899 the U.S. commissioner general asked the Library of Congress to organize a display of literature about African Americans for the Paris Exposition of 1900. Murray was assigned to the task and worked swiftly to publish a preliminary list. He also worked with W.E.B. Dubois and Booker T. Washington on organizing the full "Negro Exposition" in Paris.
Training African American Girls: Nanny Helen Burroughs, an educator, public speaker, and churchwoman, was an ardent follower of Booker T. Washington's philosophy. She worked tirelessly with the National Baptist Convention's Women's Auxiliary, first as recording secretary and then as president, for over fifty years. She established a school for girls in the District of Columbia in 1909 so as to provide them with vocational and missionary training. She stated that in addition to the three R's--reading, writing and arithmetic, these young women needed the three B's-- Bible, bath, and broom. Burroughs often battled men within her denomination about the ownership and administration of her school.
Rights for African American Women: While Burroughs represented working class women, Mary Church Terrell was a member of the African American elite. As a speaker, writer, and political activist, she dedicated the lion's share of her talent to the pursuit of full citizenship for both women and blacks. In 1898, Terrell, then president of the National Association of Colored Women, gave this address before the all-white National American Women's Suffrage Association. She pointed out that for black women, access to education and employment were as important as the vote. Terrell's autobiography was called A Colored Woman in a White World (1940); some of her papers, including the manuscript for her autobiography, as well as those of her husband, are in the Library's Manuscript Division.
Madame C. J. Walker's Mansion on the Hudson
This home was designed in 1918 by an African American architect, Vertner Woodson Tandy, for an African American cosmetics magnate, Madame C. J. Walker, on the Hudson River north of New York City. When Madame Walker was asked why she built such a palatial home, she replied that she had not built it for herself but so that blacks could see what could be accomplished with hard work and determination.
Madame C. J. Walker.
Villa Lewaro, the name of the estate, has significance for both its architect and original owner. Tandy was New York's first licensed black architect. This building was known as his best work. No one knows Mme. Walker's exact worth, but she was considered to be the nation's first African American woman millionaire.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People—Platform: Even though Booker T. Washington called for reconciliation between the races, the period of his ascendancy as a leader was one of tremendous racial violence toward African Americans in various parts of the United States, but especially in the South. After a terrible race riot in Springfield, Illinois in August 1908, an interracial group, comprised mainly of whites but with a few prominent African Americans, met in 1909 to form an organization that was soon named the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The organizational goals were the abolition of segregation, discrimination, disenfranchisement, and racial violence, particularly lynching. The "first and immediate steps" of the organization are listed at the bottom of the document.
Formation of the National Urban League: After the turn of the century the distribution of the African American population shifted dramatically as thousands migrated from the rural South to the urban North in search of better economic, social, and political opportunities. The Committee on Urban Conditions among Negroes was founded in 1910 by a coalition of progressive black and white professionals. The following year the Committee merged with two other interracial social welfare agencies in New York to form the National League on Urban Conditions among the Negroes, later known as the National Urban League. The League's principal goal was to promote the improvement of "industrial, economic, social, and spiritual conditions among Negroes" in the cities. The League helped migrants and other urban blacks to find jobs and housing and sponsored training and other programs.
George Washington Carver (1864-1943): American educator and outstanding innovator in the agricultural sciences. Carver was born of slave parents near Diamond, Missouri. He left the farm where he was born when he was about ten years old and eventually settled in Minneapolis, Kansas, where he worked his way through high school.
Following his graduation in 1894 from Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (now Iowa State University), Carver joined the college faculty and continued his studies, specializing in bacteriological laboratory work in systematic botany.
In 1896 he became director of the Department of Agricultural Research at Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (now Tuskegee University), where he began an exhaustive series of experiments with peanuts. Carver developed several hundred industrial uses for peanuts, sweet potatoes, and soybeans and developed a new type of cotton known as Carver's hybrid. His discoveries induced southern farmers to raise other crops in addition to cotton. He also taught methods of soil improvement.
In recognition of his accomplishments, Carver was awarded the Spingarn Medal in 1923 by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In 1935 he was appointed collaborator in the Division of Plant Mycology and Disease Survey of the Bureau of Plant Industry of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 1940 he donated all his savings to the establishment of the George Washington Carver Foundation at Tuskegee for research in natural science. Carver died at Tuskegee, on January 5, 1943. His birthplace was established as the George Washington Carver National Monument in 1943.
Carver’s Accomplishments: American scientist George Washington Carver taught and conducted important agricultural experiments at Tuskegee in the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. Today, the Carver Foundation and Tuskegee’s Agricultural Research and Experiment Station carry on work in the natural sciences. The university houses the George Washington Carver Museum, which contains memorabilia and historical collections. The museum is part of the Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site, which is located on the campus and administered by the National Park Service. Tuskegee’s Daniel “Chappie” James Memorial Hall houses the Black Wings aviation exhibit, which focuses on the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of black aviators who trained near Tuskegee during World War II (1939-1945). The Tuskegee Archives, devoted to black history, was established in 1904.
Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site: The national historic site authorized in 1974 was located in Tuskegee, Alabama. At Tuskegee University, the site preserves structures associated with Tuskegee Institute, the school for African Americans established in 1881 by American educator Booker T. Washington. Historic structures include the original brick buildings constructed by students and The Oaks, Washington’s Victorian-style home. The Oaks was built in 1899 with bricks made by students of the institute and restored in 1980. The site also contains the George Washington Carver Museum, established in 1938 to house the extensive scientific and artistic collections of this American scientist. Carver, who joined the faculty at Tuskegee in 1896, worked at the institute for more than 40 years. The museum features exhibits on his agricultural research with peanuts and sweet potatoes as well as pieces of Carver’s artwork. Administered by the National Park Service, the area was 23 hectares (58 acres).
George Washington Carver National Monument: The national monument was authorized in 1943. Located in Diamond, Missouri, the monument preserves the birthplace and childhood home of scientist and educator George Washington Carver. Carver was born a slave in 1864. He was orphaned as an infant and raised by relatives. The monument includes the Moses Carver House, built in 1881, in which Carver was raised. The Carver Trail winds through the woods and prairie around the home, and a statue entitled Boy Carver by Robert Amendola is along the trail. The Carver family cemetery is part of the monument. Administered by the National Park Service, the area was 85 hectares (210 acres).
Botanist George Washington Carver: A former slave, he contributed immensely to the understanding and development of the South's economic potential. Carver shared the
results of his useful agricultural experiments--especially the peanut and the sweet potato--in pamphlets such as this one. In the preface, Booker T. Washington writes:
"I have asked Professor George W. Carver to make a careful study of the condition and needs of the farmers in Macon and surrounding counties and to publish something that will be of immediate and practical help to the farmers in this section. It will pay, in my opinion, for every man interested in farming...to read carefully the suggestions which Prof. Carver has made."
Sculptor Richmond Barthé: In the 1940s black artists experimented with a variety of styles to capture the distinctive spirit of their African American subjects. Sculptor Richmond Barthé took the African American figure as his subject. Barthé sculpted busts of famous African Americans, such as Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver, as well as more monumental works such as The Boxer (1942). William Henry Johnson adopted a style he termed primitivism to evoke the lifestyle of rural African Americans. Although Johnson was highly sophisticated, his colorful primitivism paintings of religious subjects and everyday life resemble folk art. Painter Jacob Lawrence depicted the 20th-century migration of blacks to the North in a series of paintings titled ... And the Migrants Kept Coming (1940-1941). Romare Bearden created collages that combine drawings, paintings and photographs.
National Inventors Hall of Fame: The National Inventors Hall of Fame is a U.S. organization founded in 1973 to honor successful inventors. Members are chosen by the selection committee of the National Inventors Hall of Fame Foundation, which is composed of representatives from national scientific and technical organizations.
Best Known Inventors: The best-known black inventors of the late 19th century were George Washington Carver, Jan Matzeliger, and Elijah McCoy. Arriving at Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) in Alabama in 1896, Carver in his Laboratory was always inventive, industrious, and committed to aiding his fellow African Americans in the largely rural South. George Washington Carver determined that years of cotton farming had depleted nitrogen in the soil.
Inventions: George Washington Carver invented cosmetics, paint, and dye.
Carver received acclaim for his innovative work there with agricultural products, particularly the peanut, the sweet potato, and the cowpea. He made more than 500 different kinds of products from the peanut and about 120 from the sweet potato.
Carver was also one of the first people in that era to promote the use of organic fertilizer.
He promoted the replenishment of nitrogen through the planting of peanuts. He also taught farm wives ways to use the nutritious peanut in recipes and invented 500 uses.
George Washington Carver concentrated his agricultural research on improving cotton harvests.
The George Washington Carver War Housing Building in Arlington, Virginia in 1942 gives further evidence of Cassell's expertise as architect and supervisor.
Matzeliger, Jan Earnst (1852-1889): Suriname-born African American artist and inventor revolutionized the shoe industry. Matzeliger was born on September 15, 1852 in Paramaribo, Suriname, South America, the son of a Dutch engineer and a native black mother. In 1855 Matzeliger moved to the home of a paternal aunt. At the age of ten, he began an apprenticeship in the machine shops superintended by his father. His father’s experience and observations sparked young Matzeliger's interests and talents in mechanics.
Matzeliger left Suriname in 1871 to become a sailor aboard an East Indian vessel. Two years later, at the end of the cruise, he disembarked in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For the next few years, Matzeliger worked in odd jobs around the Philadelphia area. In 1876 he left for the New England states, living in Boston, Massachusetts, and eventually settling in Lynn, Massachusetts.
Shortly after settling in Lynn, Matzeliger found employment in a shoe factory operating a McKay sole-sewing machine. He also spent time on the heel-burnisher and the buttonhole machine. During his first days in Lynn, Matzeliger had some trouble, since his facility with the English language was limited. He quickly made up for the shortcoming by attending night school and studying during his free time. His spare hours soon became absorbed in self-education, and he maintained a personal library emphasizing scientific and practical works. Matzeliger's abilities ranged beyond the mechanical, for he possessed a marked talent in painting. He presented a number of paintings to friends and gave lessons in oil painting.
By September 1880, after years of observation and practical experience, Matzeliger assembled his first machine over a period of six months. The device, constructed of wire, wood, and cigar boxes, was the first crude step toward perfecting a mechanical luster for the manufacture of shoes. The machine stretched leather shoe uppers around a foot-shaped model, or last. Matzeliger’s second version, built from assorted castings and iron parts, took four years to construct. The assembly process took place in a vacant corner of the plant where Matzeliger worked. Adequate financing for the invention soon presented a major problem. To secure a patent, arrange demonstrations, and complete finishing touches, Matzeliger knocked on doors to obtain the needed capital. He soon obtained financial support from investors C. H. Delnow and M. S. Nichols of Lynn, at the cost of two-thirds ownership of the device.
With sufficient capital in hand, Matzeliger was granted patent No. 274,207 on March 20, 1883, for the Lasting Machine. The drawings sent to the Patent Office confused the patent officials so much that one patent officer had to journey to Lynn to personally observe the machine. In the following year, Matzeliger joined the Christian Endeavor Society at the North Congregational Church. Although he was never a formal member of the church, he attended services regularly and participated in a number of church functions. Matzeliger's affiliation came about only after suffering a number of rebuffs from other churches in the community because of his race.
Indefatigable in his zeal for work, the inventor continued to perfect his Lasting Machine for its first factory test. On May 29, 1885, during the first public operation of the machine, it made a record run of lasting 75 pairs of shoes. In subsequent days the machine came to be termed the Nigger Head Luster.
Finding themselves unable to properly finance the production of Matzeliger's invention, Delnow and Nichols sought additional capital from George A. Brown and Disney W. Winslow. The result was the creation of the Consolidated Lasting Machine Company, which began to manufacture Matzeliger's device. The Lasting Machine was indeed revolutionary, for it could turn out from 150 to 700 pairs of shoes a day, compared to a maximum of 50 a day by using the manual method. Proper recognition for the machine came only posthumously, with the awarding of the Gold Medal and Diploma at the Pan-American Exposition of 1901. The Consolidated Lasting Machine Company, which had purchased Matzeliger's patents, quickly expanded. By the late 1890s, a number of smaller companies merged to form the United Shoe Machinery Corporation. The corporation soon came to dominate the shoe machinery industry in the United States with a capitalization of millions.
Matzeliger's mechanical genius was not limited to a single Lasting Machine. He patented a number of items prior to his death and had several granted thereafter. The patents included no. 415, 726, Mechanism for Distributing Tacks, Nails, etc. (October 12, 1888); no. 421,954, Nailing Machine (February 25, 1890); no. 423,937, Tack Separating and Distributing Mechanism (March 25, 1890); and no. 459,899, Lasting Machine (September 22, 1891).
In the summer of 1886, Matzeliger contracted what appeared at first to be a cold. When properly diagnosed, however, it turned out to be tuberculosis. While bedridden, he continued to paint and work on his experiments. His health continued to worsen, and he died in Lynn Hospital on August 24, 1889, less than a month before his 37th birthday. He was buried in the Pine Grove Cemetery, Lynn. Never married, he did not live to see the profound impact of his invention on the shoe industry or to reap the financial benefit of the invention. He willed to the North Church a substantial portion of his holdings in the shoe machinery companies.
Highlight of Invention: Corbis Matzeliger invented a shoe-lasting machine that made the skill of shoe lasting by hand, the shaping of a shoe around a foot-sized form obsolete.
Matzeliger studied the problem of shoe lasting for years, and by the time that he was able to produce a working model of his invention, he was suffering financially and physically from his devotion to his work. Matzeliger was so desperate for funds to complete construction of his demonstration model, test its performance, and apply for the patent, that he sold two-thirds of the rights to two local investors.
Matzeliger received his patent in 1883, and the trial run of the first Matzeliger lasting machine was a success, lasting 75 pairs of shoes. Matzeliger continued to refine his ideas and produced two more lasting machines that were improvements on his first machine.
McCoy, Elijah (1844-1929): An American inventor. McCoy was best known for his inventions of devices used to lubricate heavy machinery automatically. He was born in Colchester, Ontario, Canada, to parents who had escaped from slavery in Kentucky in 1837. McCoy went to Edinburgh, Scotland, at age 15 and studied mechanical engineering for five years. Returning home, he became a railroad fireman on the Michigan State Railroad. In those days steam locomotives had to stop at intervals so that the fireman could oil their pistons, levers, and connecting pins. About 1870, while living in the town of Ypsilanti, Michigan, McCoy began to experiment with automatic lubricators for steam engines.
He received his first patent in 1872 for a "lubricator cup" that provided a steady but unregulated flow of oil to a lubricating point. Later that year he patented a lubricator equipped with stopcocks linked to a rod that enabled the oil flow to be controlled. The oil was steam-heated to keep it from congealing in cold weather. In 1925 McCoy invented a graphite lubricator for steam engines that ran on superheated steam. The graphite was suspended in oil and the design prevented lubricant clogging. McCoy's lubricators were used on locomotives, steamships, and factory machinery.
McCoy also patented an ironing table (1874) and a scaffold support (1907). He spent most of his adult life in Detroit, where he often worked with black children and urged them toward success.
Highlights of His Invention: Engineer McCoy’s invention of a self-lubricating device for steam engines transformed the railroad industry. McCoy was the most prolific of the 19th-century black inventors. In 1872 he patented the first of his automatic lubrication devices to be used on stationary steam engines. The money that McCoy received for this patent he put toward further studies of the problems of lubrication. In 1873, McCoy patented an improved lubricator, and he went on to develop over 50 improvements in lubricators for both stationary and locomotive engines. Many railroad and shipping companies adopted McCoy’s lubricators, and he became an instructor, and later a consultant, in the proper fitting and use of his devices. Many other kinds of lubricators were patented, but none could stand up to the standard of McCoy’s.
Chemurgy: A branch of chemistry involving the use of farm and forest products and their residues in industrial manufacture and in the development of new types of plants for industrial use. The word was coined in the United States in the early 1930s, when ways were being sought to use increasing farm surpluses. Plants, because they consist mainly of cellulose, starch, sugar, oils, and proteins, serve readily as raw materials for industrial and chemical products.
In 1938 Congress authorized the U.S. Department of Agriculture to establish laboratories at Philadelphia, New Orleans, Louisiana, Peoria, Illinois, and Albany, California, for the purpose of finding new uses for farm products grown in their respective sections of the country. From these and other laboratories associated with the Department of Agriculture have come the first large-scale processes for producing penicillin and other antibiotics.
The development and promotion of new kinds of plants led to many new chemurgical uses. For example, safflower was planted on some 121,400 hectares (about 300,000 acres) in the U.S. in the late 1960s. Processed safflower oil is used as a food to reduce the amount of cholesterol in the diet. It is also used in the paint industry as a drying agent. Safflower meal is increasingly used as feed for livestock.
An early chemurgist, Charles H. Herty, developed improved newsprint through experiments he conducted with the pulp of the southern pine tree. Another pioneer in chemurgy, George Washington Carver, developed many products from such plants as the peanut and sweet potato.
Cotton Production in the United States: Cotton Production in the United States, the South's most important agricultural product, following Eli Whitney's 1793 invention of the cotton gin, permitted commercial use of American short-staple cotton and was closely bound up with slavery in the United States and with late 19th-century sharecropping. During the early 20th century African American scientist George Washington Carver concentrated his agricultural research on improving cotton harvests. Since the 1930s, however, the number of African Americans engaged in cotton production has dropped greatly as a result of the impact of the boll weevil and the mechanization of cotton farming, both which helped accelerate a massive 20th-century black migration out of the South.
NAACP Spingarn Medal: Recipients of the NAACP Spingarn Medal, instituted in 1914 by J. E. Spingarn, former chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was for the highest achievement by a Black American and awarded annually for the previous year.
Missouri National Park Units: The George Washington Carver National Monument, near Diamond in southwest Missouri, marks the birthplace of the famous scientist, agronomist, educator, and humanitarian.. Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, near Springfield, preserves the site of an important American Civil War battle for control of Missouri.
W.E.B. Dubois’s Views on Carver: "Someday when the Crisis is treating of Negro leaders I should like to see another comprehensive sketch on Dr. George W. Carver appear. He is doubtless a warm friend of yours. He is the first Negro I remember. He was completing his undergraduate work at Iowa State College at Ames, Iowa, when my father went there as president in 1891. I was only porridge-eating size then, but I have a distinct remembrance of him working among the flowers around the dilapidated old horticultural building (long since replaced). That must have been several years later, probably when he was an instructor in the botany department.
His old chief in that department, Dr. L. H. Pammel, resigned only the other day after many years' service. "Dr. Carver irritates me enormously at times when he wholly discounts his own abilities and gives all credit for his amazing chemistry discoveries to a 'Divine Guide', a 'Divine Fire' and the like. All genius, I suppose, has the backing of the Angels of the Lord, but certainly his forty years of patient study cannot be dismissed so lightly and rudely. For all that, he remains a wizard who receives my unbounded admiration. It depresses me when I encounter many supposedly educated Negroes who do not seem to have heard of him. He keeps his light too well hidden under a bushel. You may agree with me that the average Negro pays little attention to the real achievements of his race outside of politics and sports—though perhaps, to be entirely fair, I should say 'too little attention.'"
Tuskegee University: Tuskegee University is a historically black college in Tuskegee, Alabama, organized by Booker T. Washington to emphasize industrial education.
Tuskegee's roots lie in the post-Reconstruction era in the South, when African Americans’ opportunities for higher education were still severely limited. Tuskegee University was technically chartered by the Alabama state legislature to repay black voters for their support. However, its early history is almost synonymous with the name of its first administrator, 19th-century African American leader Booker T. Washington.
In February 1881 the Alabama legislature voted to set aside $2,000 each year to fund a state and normal school for blacks in Tuskegee. The trustees asked officials at several other black institutions to recommend someone to head the new school. Although they were implicitly asking for white candidates, Hampton Institute’s president Samuel Chapman Armstrong suggested his black protégé, Booker T. Washington. The trustees agreed to hire Washington as principal. Washington arrived in Tuskegee on June 24, 1881, and opened the Normal School for colored teachers at Tuskegee in a shack adjacent to the black Methodist church on July 4. The first 30 students ranged in age from 16 to 40; most were teachers hoping to further their own education.
Washington's most significant contribution was his strong belief in industrial education and training as the key to success for African Americans. Students were required to learn a trade and perform manual labor at the school, including making and laying the bricks for the buildings that became the first campus. Tuskegee's charter had mandated that tuition would be free for students who committed to teaching in Alabama public schools. The students' labor helped with financial costs, and Washington solicited much of the remaining funding from northern white philanthropists.
Tuskegee was incorporated as a private institution in 1892, and its name was changed to the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute that year. Social conventions would have prohibited white instructors from serving under a black principal, so Tuskegee became the first institution of higher learning with a black faculty. In 1896 the school hired George Washington Carver, whose groundbreaking agricultural research received international recognition. Washington became nationally accepted as a black leader during the 1890s because many whites appreciated his accommodations approach to race relations, and Tuskegee gained wide recognition and substantial funding.
The original industrial training approach gradually changed after Washington's death in 1915. Tuskegee awarded its first baccalaureate degree in 1925 and began its first college curriculum in 1927 and nurses' training. In 1937 its name was changed to Tuskegee Institute.
During World War II (1939-1945) the Army Air Corps established an airfield at Tuskegee that trained more than 900 black pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen. Graduate programs in veterinary medicine, nursing, business, architecture, agriculture and home economics, education, and arts and sciences were eventually added. In the 1960s and 1970s Tuskegee became the first black college to be designated a Registered National Historic Landmark and a National Historic Site.
By the schools centennial in 1981, Tuskegee's campus included 150 buildings on 2,000 hectares (5,000 acres), and its endowment was approximately $22 million. Five years later, the school changed its name to Tuskegee University. Today, approximately 3,200 undergraduates are enrolled at Tuskegee, and there are an additional 200 graduate students. The school offers 70 different degrees and has an especially strong engineering program.
Notable Tuskegee graduates include writer Ralph Ellison, who portrays a fictionalized version of the school and its "founder" in his novel Invisible Man (1952); Arthur W. Mitchell, the first black Democratic congressman; and actor/comedian Keenan Ivory Wayans. Tuskegee's 30,000 living alumni are professionals in communities across the country and throughout the world.
Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Dubois Debate: The issues raised by the celebrated debate between Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. DuBois will be its central theme. For two decades Washington established a dominant tone of gradualism and accommodations among blacks, only to find in the latter half of this period that the leadership was passing to more militant leaders such as W. E. B. Dubois. The following is a summary of the issues raised by Dubious:
· During the four decades following reconstruction, the position of the Negro in America steadily deteriorated.
· The hopes and aspirations of the freedmen for full citizenship rights were shattered after the federal government betrayed the Negro and restored white supremacist control to the South.
· Blacks were left at the mercy of ex-slaveholders and former Confederates, as the United States government adopted a laissez-faire policy regarding the “Negro problem” in the South.
· Strict legal segregation of public facilities in the southern states was strengthened in 1896 by the Supreme Court’s decision in the Plessy vs. Ferguson case.
· Racists, northern and southern, proclaimed that the Negro was subhuman, barbaric, immoral, and innately inferior, physically and intellectually, to whites—totally incapable of functioning as an equal in white civilization.
Between the Compromise of 1877 and the Compromise of 1895, the problem facing Negro leadership was clear: how to obtain first-class citizenship for the Negro American.
Some black leaders encouraged Negroes to become skilled workers, hoping that if they became indispensable to the prosperity of the South, political and social rights would be granted to them.
The most heated controversy in Negro leadership at this time raged between two remarkable black men—Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Dubois. The major spokesman for the gradualist economic strategy was Washington. Dubois was the primary advocate of the gradualist political strategy. Booker T. Washington emerged in the midst of worsening social, political, and economic conditions for American blacks. His racial program set the terms for the debate on Negro programs for the decades between 1895 and 1915
Washington learned the doctrine of economic advancement combined with acceptance of disfranchisement and conciliation with the white South from Armstrong. His rise to national prominence came in 1895 with a brief speech, which outlined his social philosophy and racial strategy. Washington was invited to speak before an integrated audience at the opening of the Cotton States and International Exposition held in Atlanta in September 1895. He was the first Negro ever to address such a large group of southern whites.
Washington is remembered chiefly for this “Atlanta Compromise” address. In this speech, he called on white America to provide jobs and industrial-agricultural education for Negroes. In exchange, blacks would give up demands for social equality and civil rights. His message to the Negro was that political and social equality were less important as immediate goals than economic respectability and independence. Washington believed that if blacks gained an economic foothold, and proved themselves useful to whites, then civil rights and social equality would eventually be given to them. Blacks were urged to work as farmers, skilled artisans, domestic servants, and manual laborers to prove to whites that all blacks were not “liars and chicken thieves.”
The philosophy of Washington was one of accommodation to white oppression. He advised blacks to trust the paternalism of the southern whites and accept the fact of white supremacy. He stressed the mutual interdependence of blacks and whites in the South, but said they were to remain socially separate: “In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.”
Washington counseled blacks to remain in the South, obtain a useful education, save their money, work hard, and purchase property. By doing such things, Washington believed, the Negro could ultimately “earn” full citizenship rights.
Dubois Statements Against Washington’s Strategy: White Americans responded with enthusiasm to Washington’s racial policies and made him the national Negro leader. “It startled the nation,” wrote Dubois, “to hear a Negro advocating such a program after many decades of bitter complaint; it startled and won the applause of the South, it interested and won the admiration of the North; and Dubois after a confused murmur of protest, it silenced if it did not convert the Negroes themselves.” Northern whites saw in Washington’s doctrine a peace formula between the races in the South.
Southern whites liked the program because it did not involve political, civil, and social aspirations, and it would consign the Negro to an inferior status. Because Washington’s program conciliated whites, substantial contributions from white philanthropists were given to Tuskegee and other institutions that adopted the Washington philosophy. Washington’s prestige grew to the point where he was regarded as the spokesman for the entire Negro community. With strong white support, Washington became the outstanding black leader not only in the fields of education and philanthropy, but in business and labor relations, politics and all public affairs.
In 1901, Washington published his carefully executed and immensely popular autobiography, Up From Slavery. Washington’s career is full of paradoxes. He advised blacks to remain in the South and avoid politics and protest in favor of economic self-help and industrial education. But he became a powerful political boss and dispenser of patronage, the friend of white businessmen like Andrew Carnegie and advisor of presidents.
Washington publicly accepted without protest racial segregation and voting discrimination, but secretly financed and directed many court suits against such proscriptions of civil rights. He preached a gospel of Puritan morality and personal cleanliness, yet engaged in acts of sabotage and espionage against his black critics.
Before whites he was a model of humility and ingratiation; to his staff and students at Tuskegee he was a benevolent despot.
Several Negro leaders voiced their opposition to Washington’s “Atlanta Compromise” with its admonition to work and wait. They could not topple Washington from power, but one of them did win recognition as a leader of the opposition—W. E. B. Dubois.
W.E.B. Dubois: W. E. B. Dubois was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, in 1868. His family had not known the stigma of slavery for over a hundred years. Dubois was educated at Fisk University, Harvard University (where he earned his Ph.D. in history in 1895) and the University of Berlin. Dubois was a professor of economics and history at Atlanta University where he conducted a series of sociological studies on the conditions of blacks in the South at the same time Washington was developing his program of industrial education.
Dubois was not an early opponent of Washington’s program. He enthusiastically accepted the Tuskegee “Atlanta Compromise” philosophy as sound advice.
He said in 1895 that Washington’s speech was “a word fitly spoken.” In fact, during the late 1890’s, there were several remarkable similarities in the ideas of the two men, who for a brief period found issues on which they could cooperate.
Agreement: Both Washington and Dubois tended to blame Negroes themselves for their condition. They both placed emphasis on self-help and moral improvement rather than on rights. Both men placed economic advancement before universal manhood suffrage. The professor and the principal were willing to accept franchise restrictions based on education and property qualifications, but not race. Both strongly believed in racial solidarity and economic cooperation, or Black Nationalism. They encouraged the development of Negro business. They agreed that the black masses should receive industrial training.
Washington/Dubois Controversy: The years from 1901 to 1903 were years of transition in Dubois’ philosophy. Dubois grew to find Washington’s program intolerable, as he became more outspoken about racial injustice and began to differ with Washington over the importance of liberal arts education when the latter’s emphasis on industrial education drew resources away from black liberal arts colleges.
Dubois noted that Washington’s accommodating program produced little real gain for the race. Another factor that alienated Dubois from Washington was the fact that Washington and his “Tuskegee Machine”—an intricate, nation-wide web of institutions in the black community that were conducted, dominated, and strongly influenced by Washington—kept a dictatorial control over Negro affairs that stifled honest criticism of his policies and other efforts at Negro advancement.
Dubois came to view Washington as a political boss who had too much power and used it ruthlessly to his own advantage. Although Dubois admitted that he was worthy of honor, he believed Washington was a limited and misguided leader. Dubois launched a well-reasoned, thoughtful, and unequivocal attack on Washington’s program in his classic collection of essays, The Souls of Black Folk, in 1903.
Dubois took the leadership in the struggle against Booker T. Washington and headed the radical protest movement for civil rights for Negroes. He took the position that “the Black men of America have a duty to perform; a duty stern and delicate—a forward movement to oppose a part of the work of their greatest leader.”
Dubois said that Washington’s accommodations program asked blacks to give up political power, insistence on civil rights, and higher education for Negro youth. He believed that Washington’s policies had directly or indirectly resulted in three trends: the disfranchisement of the Negro, the legal creation of a distinct status of civil inferiority for the Negro, and steady withdrawal of aid from institutions for the higher training of the Negro.
Dubois charged that Washington’s program tacitly accepted the alleged inferiority of the Negro. Expressing the sentiment of the radical civil rights advocates, Dubois demanded for all black citizens 1) the right to vote, 2) civic equality, and 3) the education of Negro youth according to ability.
Dubois Opposed Washington’s Program: Dubois opposed Washington’s program because it was narrow in its scope and objectives, devalued the study of the liberal arts, and ignored civil, political, and social injustices and the economic exploitation of the black masses. Dubois firmly believed that persistent agitation, political action, and academic education would be the means to achieve full citizenship rights for black Americans. His educational philosophy directly influenced his political approach.
Dubois Stressed on College Education: He stressed the necessity for liberal arts training because he believed that black leadership should come from college-trained backgrounds. Dubois’ philosophy of the “Talented Tenth” was that a college-educated elite would chart, through their knowledge, the way for economic and cultural elevation for the black masses.
Niagara Movement: In 1905, Dubois helped found a radical civil rights protest organization called the “Niagara Movement.” Its members were predominately northern, urban, college-educated black men—the “Talented Tenth.” This short-lived movement launched a campaign for complete equality and justice for blacks, with an emphasis on political rights. Lack of financial support caused the Niagara Movement—the direct forerunner of the NAACP—to dissolve by 1910.
NAACP Establishment: In 1909, after an outbreak of rioting and murders of Negroes in Springfield, Illinois, a protest meeting was held in New York that led to the formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Dubois was one of the founding members of the organization. The NAACP was a coalition of black and white radicals, which sought to remove legal barriers to full citizenship for Negroes. The association began an intensive campaign to bring about the enforcement of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.
The NAACP fought against segregation and discrimination mainly in the courts.
Dubois was the director of NAACP publications and research, and founder-editor of the association’s official publication, The Crisis. This magazine, one of the best sources of information about the black world, became the vehicle through which Dubois could delineate his racial program and political ideals to the black American community.
From 1910 to 1915, Dubois voiced the new aspirations of the American Negro in The Crisis. This was a period of increasing influence for the leadership of Dubois and the NAACP. Washington felt threatened by the rise of the association, and the ideological battle between Washington and Dubois continued until the formers death in 1915.
Both Washington and Dubois wanted the same thing for blacks—first-class citizenship—but their methods for obtaining it differed. Because of the interest in immediate goals contained in Washington’s economic approach, whites did not realize that he anticipated the complete acceptance and integration of Negroes into American life. He believed blacks, starting with so little, would have to begin at the bottom and work up gradually to achieve positions of power and responsibility before they could demand equal citizenship—even if it meant temporarily assuming a position of inferiority.
Dubois understood Washington’s program, but believed that it was not the solution to the “race problem.” Blacks should study the liberal arts, and have the same rights as white citizens. Blacks, Dubois believed, should not have to sacrifice their constitutional rights in order to achieve a status that was already guaranteed.
Summary: Mr. Washington had a major influence on southern race relations and was the dominant figure in black public affairs from 1895 until his death in 1915.
In 1881 he founded Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute on the Hampton model in the Black Belt of Alabama. Booker taught two years at Hampton before he was asked to fill the position at Tuskegee as headmaster. Early in the history of the Tuskegee Institute he began to combine industrial training with mental and moral culture. He convinced southern white employers and governors that Tuskegee offered an education that would keep blacks "down on the farm" and in the trades.
He had the ear of two United States presidents and was the first African American to dine at the White House with Theodore R. Roosevelt and share tea at Buckingham Palace with the Queen of England. Washington offered black acquiescence in disfranchisement and social segregation if whites would encourage black progress in economic and educational opportunity. Washington opposed the Niagara Movement launched by W.E.B. Dubois.
Booker T. Washington was raised "Up From Slavery" during one of the lowest periods of race relations in American history to become one of the greatest leaders of the African American race and a voice for the conscience of the American south. He was the first person in the United States to convene an international conference addressing the concerns of Black people throughout the world. He received more distinguished honors than ever accorded a man of the African-American race. Booker T. Washington was a pioneer in education and set the tone for the black advancement in the United States of America. He was the first African American to receive the following degrees and awards for his work of advancing the cause of the black people:
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