Following the Civil War, many Black people were left to fend for themselves. They had no access to employment, and the South was war torn and many White people feared the former slaves. The result was a large population of Black people with no viable means of support. The skills that the people had were limited because of the work they had been trained or allowed to perform. Besides, illiteracy was widespread because many slaves had not been allowed to learn to read and write. In a way, the people were still held in bondage by their restriction to assimilate into society.
Booker T. Washington identified the need for Black people to develop skills that White people would employ them to use. He wanted to teach Black people brick making and laying, and some other laborious skills they did not know. For women, he believed that becoming domestic workers would open up doors of opportunity. As a former slave, he was looking for the fastest route that would help his people to support themselves. The politicians widely received his ideas.
W.E.B. Dubois was a well-educated Black man from the North. He believed that Washington's ideas were a method that would continue to hold Black people back and under the suppression of White people. He saw education as the key to empowering Black people and a prevention from being held hostage to a life as common laborers. His ideas were considered more radical because they scarred the White people and were not as accepted as Booker T. Washington's ideas.