Discuss the educational debate between W. E. B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington.

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Both Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois understood the need for Black Americans to forward their education. However, their underlying philosophies behind how to accomplish this differed greatly.

Washington argued that Black Americans could increase their status in the country by accommodating white prejudices while they worked to elevate their own positions. He stressed the importance of vocational education for Black people rather than seeking out a college education. Washington felt that if Black Americans could become economically independent and successful, even within the confines of segregation, they could win the respect of the white populace.

Du Bois was very much opposed to Washington's ideas concerning education. He felt that accepting second-class status would destroy the psyche and spirit of Black Americans. Du Bois argued that the compromises that Washington supported would do nothing to lift up Black Americans. Du Bois contended that Black people should seek out the same opportunities available to white people. This meant attending universities and seeking out the same jobs that white people held. Du Bois believed that an elite percentage of Black Americans, whom he called the "Talented Tenth," could help close the racial divide in the country. As a result, they needed an educated populace that was prepared to enter into the same social, political, and economic arenas as white people. Therefore, advanced education was necessary.

This difference in philosophies likely has its roots in each man's background. Washington grew up in the segregated South and was the first leader of the Tuskegee Institute, a school for Black people that emphasized the trades as much as it did academics. Du Bois, on the other hand, was a Northerner who grew up away from Jim Crow laws and was a graduate of Harvard University.

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