Can you compare Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey's ideas?

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thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey believed that African Americans needed economic empowerment and education to ensure they achieved self-reliance. Garvey was inspired by Washington’s achievements in improving education for black communities, especially in the South.

Washington aligned himself with wealthy whites and managed to convince them to support and invest in education for African Americans. He successfully raised millions of dollars and set in motion a series of projects that improved education for black communities. Garvey sought Washington’s help in establishing similar education projects in Jamaica, where he was born. He admired and supported Washington’s educational projects aimed at empowering the black community.

Washington was a strong proponent of economic empowerment. He believed in enhancing the skills of African American people and teaching the application of those skills in a gainful industry. He suggested that it was the best way to achieve equality and respect in American society. Garvey shared similar sentiments. Garvey demonstrated the need for economic empowerment by engaging in business. He launched a shipping line and a winery (among other businesses) aimed at creating jobs and improving the economic status of the black community.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

These two men's ideas were pretty much diametrically opposed to one another.  Marcus Garvey was the first major black nationalist while Booker T. Washington was the most famous accomodationist of his time.

Washington's basic philosophy was that black people needed to understand that whites held the upper hand.  He argued that black people needed to work hard and refrain from making demands on the whites.  Washington believed that this sort of behavior would eventually win the respect of whites, who would grant blacks equality.

By contrast, Garvey believed in a black separatism and in being aggressive.  He believed that blacks should try to separate themselves from whites, even to the extent of returning to Africa.  He did not believe in waiting to be given respect by the whites.

There was, however, one area of similarity.  Both men believed that blacks needed to help themselves.  To Washington, that self-help involved being humble and working hard.  To Garvey, it involved being assertive and proud.  But in both cases, there was a sense that blacks had to advance through their own efforts.