What was the difference between Martin Luther King, Jr.'s views versus those of Du Bois?

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W. E. B. Du Bois (1868–1963) and Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–1968) were the preeminent leaders of African American efforts to gain equality in the United States. They led the movement at different times and did not compete against one another, but their views were not identical.

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W. E. B. Du Bois (1868–1963) and Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–1968) were the preeminent leaders of African American efforts to gain equality in the United States. They led the movement at different times and did not compete against one another, but their views were not identical.

Du Bois is usually compared with another African American leader: Booker T. Washington. Washington, the founder of the Tuskegee Institute, was a leader of the American black community in the 1890s. Washington was a moderate who was willing to accept segregation; instead, he urged black people to focus on economic advancement. Du Bois rejected this idea entirely. He wanted African Americans to fight against economic, social, and political discrimination.

King, like Du Bois, rejected the cautious and incremental approach of Washington. Du Bois and King wanted black people to achieve full equality in all spheres in 20th-century America. King gave a laudatory speech on Du Bois to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Du Bois's birth. King said of Du Bois: "Dr. Du Bois was not only an intellectual giant exploring the frontiers of knowledge, he was in the first place a teacher."

Both DuBois and King were articulate, highly-educated men. Their approach and views differed in some respects, however. The first difference was in their methods. As King stated, Du Bois was primarily an educator. Du Bois was a college instructor and editor of the influential NAACP magazine, The Crisis. King, on the other hand, was more of a protest organizer.

Also, Du Bois's thinking had some elements that were not shared by King. For example, Du Bois, frustrated by a lack of progress in achieving civil rights, came to accept the idea of voluntary segregation. Also, Du Bois was active in the Pan-African movement and became a member of the Communist party later in life. King did not share these sentiments.

The final years of these men's lives differed markedly, too. Du Bois became frustrated with life in America and moved to Africa, primarily living in Ghana, where he died. King became a martyr to the civil rights cause when he was assassinated.

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