Childhoods of Great Americans

Assignment 4: The Making of Booker T. Washington

In this assignment 4 on Booker T. Washington and the next one on his rival, W.E.B. DuBois, we try to understand two of the major leaders of African Americans of the 19th and 20th centuries. They rank with Frederick Douglass and later with Martin Luther King in importance.

As you know from class discussion, Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois sharply disagreed in their political and educational philosophies and in some respect their quarrel has carried through to the present day.

BTW, the founder of Tuskegee Institute, became a great advocate of vocational education while W.E.B. favored greater opportunities for professional and academic studies for black men and women. W.E.B., a founder of the NAACP was a staunch civil rights activist during a time when black people were losing their rights to free access to public facilities and the right to vote; it was a time when civil authority could no longer be counted on to protect them from attack. These were the days of lynchings. BTW, on the other hand, advised backing off on the political struggle in order to focus on economic gain—ultimately as a way to power. Their differences (in many respects exaggerated here for pedagogical reasons) are neatly summarized in following:

Booker T. and W.E.B.

By Dudley Randall

“It seems to me,” said Booker T.,

“It shows a mighty lot of cheek

To study chemistry and Greek

When Mister Charlie needs a hand

To hoe the cotton on his land,

And when Miss Ann looks for a cook,

Why stick your nose inside a book?”

“I don’t agree,” said W.E.B.,

“If I should have the drive to seek

Knowledge of chemistry or Greek,

I’ll do it. Charles and Miss can look

Another place for hand or cook.

Some men rejoice in skill of hand,

And some in cultivating land,

But there are others who maintain

The right to cultivate the brain.”

“It seems to me,” said Booker T.,

“That all you folks have missed the boat

Who shout about the right to vote,

And spend vain days and sleepless nights

In uproar over civil rights.

Just keep your mouths shut, do not grouse,

But work, and save, and buy a house.”

“I don’t agree,” said W.E.B.,

“For what can property avail

If dignity and justice fail.

Unless you help to make the laws,

They’ll steal your house with trumped-up clause.

A rope’s as tight, a fire as hot,

No matter how much cash you’ve got.

Speak soft, and try your little plan,

But as for me, I’ll be a man.”

“It seems to me,” said Booker T.—

“I don’t agree,”

Said W.E.B.

A. Reading Assignment on BTW childhood and young manhood

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B. Now answer the questions in the attachment below.……

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