What did Washington consider to be the cause of the race issue? 

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In typical Washington fashion, I think that he would suggest that his memoirs are not intended to diagnose or lay blame at anyone's feet for the issue of race.  I think that Washington might suggest that his own narrative would give compelling evidence that any problem can be overcome.  From his own background of humble origins to his ascension to being a prominent speaker for African- Americans, Washington would suggest that those who find the issue of race to be an obstacle have not committed themselves fully to the principle of self- help.  Washington's writing stresses the idea that people of color can help themselves through "the hand, head, and heart."  This is where Washington would make clear that the issue of race is something to be overcome.  There is no issue that prevents people of color from moving "up from slavery."  It is here where I think that Washington would suggest that those who are using the issue of race as a reason to deny their own capacity are not adhering to the philosophy of self- help that Washington carves out.  Indeed, I think that Washington would suggest individuals who seek to find a reason not to rise up have not fully embraced the notion of self- help that is such a part of his philosophy in Up From Slavery.

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