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Washington’s Philosophy

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Booker T. Washington for decades laid down the principle of gradualism and accommodation among the blacks in the United States but it later emerged that leadership of the blacks fighting against oppression was passing onto more militant personalities like W.E.B Du bois. These two were some of the people who led black Americans in warfare against racism that had then taken root. The Negros were treated as inferior citizens deprived of their civil and human rights. White supremacy was legalized and Negros left at the pity of ex-slave masters. This deteriorated condition led to leaders of the Negros like Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois to come up with different strategies on how to tackle the white dominance (The MacMillan Centre, 2010)

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The MacMillan Centre (2010), states that the main target for the Negros was to have racial equality. Two different allied to two different Negro leaders were employed. This included the economic strategy allied to Washington. He was the main spokesperson for the gradualist economic policy. Contrary to Washington, Dubois was the major supporter of the gradualist political plan (Gibson)

Washington’s program emerged when the social, political and economic conditions for theNegros were on the death bed. His prominence rose in 1895 while giving a speech that brought out his social and racial strategy. He was the first Negro to address a mammoth crowd of southern whites. In ‘Atlanta compromise’ an address that he did, he told the white Americans to give jobs and vocational education for the Negros to bring to stop their demands for social equality and civil rights. Washington in the same address tells Negros to focus on economic empowerment as it far much better than socio- political equality. He believed that in the event that blacks acquired economic independence and proved indispensable to whites, other things like civil rights and social equality would definitely be granted to them. He encouraged blacks to toil like farmers or artisans and laborers to convince whites that not all blacks were liars and thieve (Du Bois, 1903)

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According to Gibson (2010) Washington’s philosophy was that of accommodating the white oppression. He advised blacks to accept the existence of white supremacy. Washington insisted on the mutual interdependence between whites and  but blacks in the south but cautioned that they should remain socially separate, “In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hhand in all things essential to mutual progress.” Washington advised blacks to remain stay put in the south, acquire education, work hard, save money and buy property and eventually they would earn full citizenship.

Washington’s program had its own merits. The white Americans reacted with zeal to his racial strategies and made him the national leader of the Negros. The program attracted the admiration of the north because of its lack political and civil aspirations but instead they saw the message of peace between the blacks and whites in the south (Gibson, 2010).

Washington’s conciliatory of the whites led to substantial contributions from philanthropists who were whites to Tuskegee an institution for blacks that Washington founded and to other institutions hat incorporated this philosophy. Gibson (2010) points out that he won a lot of white support thus becoming and excellent black leader in education and charity, labor associations and commerce, political affairs and all communal affairs.  Despite the merits the program too had shortcomings as it allowed blacks to be treated as lesser citizens in the hope that they would gain upward mobility. It’s actually a long way to gaining freedom when one is suffering.

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