African American Writers


African American Writers Essay, Research Paper

The African- American Community has been blessed with a multitude of scholars.

Two of those scholars include Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du bois. Both of

these men, had a vision for African- Americans. They wanted to see the

advancement of their race of people. These great leaders just had different

viewpoints as to how this should be accomplished. Mr. Washington?s viewpoints

are based on his own personal experience and understanding of politics. Mr. Du

bois? viewpoints came from his knowledge of the importance of education and

its ability to break down barriers of color. Washington and Du bois wanted to

see the advancement of the African-American people. The question was ?How

could they advance?? There is a twelve-year age difference amongst the two

gentlemen. I could see the difference that a decade could make in the mindsets

of the two gentlemen. Washington is the elder of the two. He was apart of the

slavery system not merely a product of it. He was a slave who was freed. A man

without neither a history, nor a surname to call his own. Du bois was born into

a system of freedom. He never experienced having a master or the lack of freedom

to move about as he pleased. He came into the world and saw problems. He

didn?t see the long path that had been traveled to get them to the point that

they were at currently. Therefore these men saw different ways of accomplishing

their goals as a race. In Booker T. Washington?s autobiography Up From Slavery

, he shares with the reader an abundance of information as to how he became the

man he was. He was born on a plantation in Franklin County, Virginia. At the

earliest moments of his life, he was a laborer, cleaning the yards, carrying

water, and taking corn to the mills. Booker T. Washington talks about the burden

of freedom. He talks about the attitudes of the slaves towards their masters

after emancipation. When the slaves learned they were free there was a feeling

of excitement, followed by one of the reality that they were now responsible for

providing for their families, shelter, food, clothing and a better way of life.

He talks about the connection and bond that they continued to share, as the

slaves began to prosper and the master and his family began to suffer.

Washington remembers his new life in West Virginia. The part where is education

was put on the back burner as a result of a need of income to support his

family. But he also remembers his will and determination to gain an education at

any cost. This resulted in him going to school at night and traveling several

miles in order to gain a proper education. Washington eventually gained an

education at Hampton University, and went on to teach. He was also head of

Tuskegee University. Mr. Washington?s life experience?s taught him that

everything has a time and a place. He painted a picture of a boy in a filthy

room with torn and ragged clothes, reading a French book. He believed that man

must have skills and should be able to provide for himself and his family. He

was speaking of economic freedom. He was speaking of working with white people,

to try to make a better place for both races. In many ways, I think he felt it

was more important to have food on your table rather than books in your hands.

Mr. Washington knew that in order for African-Americans to prosper, whites would

have to be involved. In order for a man to get up off the ground he must first

convince the man holding him down to take his foot off his throat. Mr. W.E.B. Du

bois was indeed a scholar and revolutionary. He was born in Great Barrington,

Massachusetts. He was a graduate of Fisk University and the first Black to

receive a doctoral degree from Harvard University. Du Bois?s research into the

historical and sociological conditions of black Americans made him the most

influential black intellectual of his time. His book The Souls of Black Folk

written in 1903 is a powerful collection of essays, in which Du Bois describes

the efforts of African- Americans to reconcile their African heritage with their

pride in being U.S. citizens. In this book he also contended that Washington?s

push for African-Americans to relinquish political strength and the quest for

civil rights temporarily for the building of wealth was wrong. Du bois believed

that ?he right to vote, civil equality and the education of youth according to

ability were more important than the accumulation of wealth. Du bois felt that

if the ignorant white man could vote so should the ignorant black man. Du bois

continued to fight for the rights of African- Americans. He was instrumental in

the founding of the NAACP. One was conservative. One was idealistic. One was a

politician at heart. One was an abolitionist born too late. Both saw the

importance of education. They just differed on what kind of education was most

important to their race of people. The main goal was the advancement of their

people. In both men?s cases, their insight and ideas did so much in the aiding

of our advancement as a race of people and as a culture within a culture. They

were both two great men with the same problem, with different solutions.

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