Please answer the following questions about a quote The Souls of Black Folk, by W.E.B. Du Bois.   But so far as Mr. Washington apologizes for injustice, North or South, does not rightly value...

Please answer the following questions about a quote The Souls of Black Folk, by W.E.B. Du Bois.

 

But so far as Mr. Washington apologizes for injustice, North or South, does not rightly value the privilege and duty of voting, belittles the emasculating effects of caste distinctions, and opposes the higher training and ambition of our brighter minds, -- so far as he, the South, or the Nation, does this, -- we must unceasingly and firmly oppose them

Source: W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches. Chicago: A.C. McClurg and Company, 1903.

Questions:

1. What did Du Bois predict would be the results of Washington’s approach?
2. Does this debate continue in the United States today? If not, how was it resolved? 3. Who enjoys a greater reputation in U.S. history, Washington or Du Bois? Why?

Asked on by chernor

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

First, please note that I have expanded on the partial quotation that you put in this question.  This gives us a better sense as to what Du Bois is actually saying.  With that said, let us turn to your questions.

Du Bois does not specifically say what effects he thinks will come from Washington’s more conciliatory approach.  However, we can see hints in what he does say.  The clearest hint comes when he says that the distinctions between black and white are “emasculating.”  When he says this, he is saying that black men, in particular, will lose their ability to feel that they truly are men.  They will be infantilized because they are not treated as true equals by white men.  He also implies that African Americans as a race will be held back and not allowed to progress as quickly as they should.  Thus, he believes that Washington’s approach will lead to a black community full of demoralized people.  This community will not be able to improve itself as well as it should.

This debate continues in some ways, but not in others.  In one sense, the debate has been resolved because no one believes that blacks should have to wait to get their rights or that they should not try to achieve higher education.  Du Bois has clearly won this battle.  However, if we see their debate as a debate over whether African Americans should be aggressive or more conciliatory, we can say that the debate continues.  We still do not agree whether black people should try to appeal to whites and gain their approval or whether they should be more confrontational and demand what they see as justice.

While this aspect of the debate still continues, Du Bois clearly has a better reputation than Washington.  Many people believe that Washington was too weak and too willing to give in to white power.  They feel that Du Bois was much more willing to fight for what was right rather than “going along to get along.”

Sources:

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