What is the main difference between the teachings of W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington?

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perfectsilence eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The main difference between the teachings of W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington lies within their beliefs regarding the best way to achieve progress within the African-American community.  Booker T. Washington believed that the best path to African-American progress resided within a temporary acceptance of the racial discrimination aimed at them.  He thought that even though they were free from slavery, African-Americans should continue to seek work in crafting and agriculture.  That is, they should continue to hone the labor and farming skills that were once forced upon them in order to earn and save money and perhaps even begin to create businesses for themselves.  He believed that this would help them to gain the respect of the white community, which would eventually bring about an end to racism and racial discrimination.

W.E.B. Du Bois, on the other hand, believed racism and oppression would only continue if African-Americans followed Booker T. Washington’s plan.  Instead, Du Bois believed that African-Americans should begin to pursue further education.  In his essay collection The Negro Problem, he advocated for a “talented tenth” of the African-American population to become leaders of the race via education, leadership, and social activism.  Later in his life, Du Bois came to realize that progress could emerge in a number of ways, and that the contributions of those who didn’t pursue a traditional education were also integral to social progress.

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