How does Booker T. Washington establish credibility in the following lines from his famous "Atlanta compromise"?"One-third of the population of the South is of the Negro race. No enterprise seeking...

How does Booker T. Washington establish credibility in the following lines from his famous "Atlanta compromise"?

"One-third of the population of the South is of the Negro race. No enterprise seeking the material, civil, or moral welfare of this section can disregard this element of our population and reach the highest success. I but convey to you, Mr. President and Directors, the sentiment of the masses of my race when I say that in no way have the value and manhood of the American Negro been more fittingly and generously recognized than by the managers of this magnificent Exposition at every stage of its progress. It is a recognition that will do more to cement the friendship of the two races than any occurrence since the dawn of our freedom."

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vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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In the following lines from his famous “Atlanta Compromise” speech, Booker T. Washington establishes credibility in a number of ways:

"One-third of the population of the South is of the Negro race. No enterprise seeking the material, civil, or moral welfare of this section can disregard this element of our population and reach the highest success. I but convey to you, Mr. President and Directors, the sentiment of the masses of my race when I say that in no way have the value and manhood of the American Negro been more fittingly and generously recognized than by the managers of this magnificent Exposition at every stage of its progress. It is a recognition that will do more to cement the friendship of the two races than any occurrence since the dawn of our freedom."

Washington’s methods of establishing credibility in this passage include the following:

  • He begins with a fact, clearly enunciated in the opening sentence.
  • In the second sentence, he makes an assertion that seems logical and inescapable.
  • He is careful to qualify the assertion just mentioned.  He mentions reaching the “highest success” (emphasis added).  Success of some sort or to some degree might be possible without including black citizens, but success to the “highest” degree almost certainly would not be.
  • He shows that he is talking not just about one kind of welfare but has in mind three different kinds: material, civil, and moral. He thus shows that his approach is comprehensive and that he has studied the problem from a variety of angles.
  • He shows respect for the President and Directors, thus making them more likely to accept what he has to say than if he had shown no such respect.
  • He shows his awareness of the fitting and generous recognition his people have received at the Exposition, and he thanks the President and Directors for having shown such recognition.
  • He refers to “every stage” of the progress of the Exposition, thus showing that he has a comprehensive knowledge of its evolution.
  • He shows that he knows the history of interracial relations (including conflict) since the end of the Civil War.
  • He speaks clearly and forcefully, thus demonstrating his command of the art of oratory.

 

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