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How did W.E.B. Du Bois explain the success of Booker T. Washington's approach?

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kristenmarieb... | Student, Grade 10 | Valedictorian

Posted September 24, 2012 at 2:27 AM via web

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How did W.E.B. Du Bois explain the success of Booker T. Washington's approach?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 24, 2012 at 11:06 AM (Answer #1)

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For Du Bois, it was quite easy to explain how Washington was seen as such a exalted figure by both African- Americans and Whites.  Du Bois saw the Atlanta Compromise as a way of placating Whites in that it artificially set a ceiling as to where people of color could pursue limited opportunities for advancement and seek out small areas of freedom.  For Du Bois, this was easily embraced by the White establishment because it refused to challenge the structure of what is into what can or should be.  In terms of its embrace by African- Americans, Du Bois argued that Washington's approach embodied how blighted the horizons were in the consciousness of African- Americans.  Simply put, people of color had been conditioned for so long to expect the very worst in treatment that anything that was not that would be seen as something glorious.  The "segregation and discrimination" that Du Bois saw in Washington's Atlanta Compromise and in Washington's speeches and ideas were part of the fundamental transformation as to how people of color were to both be perceived by others and themselves in post- Civil War America.  In this, Washington's approach was less transformative and thus more ably received by Whites and people of color in its temporal context.  Du Bois understood this in the most keen of ways.

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