As one of the greatest African American thinkers and philosophers, William Edward Du Bois presented numerous ideas in an attempt to improve the welfare of his people. One of his masterpieces is “The Souls of Black Folk”. In this book, Du Bois examines the plight of many African Americans and offers meaningful approaches to supporting their living conditions. Du Bois writes passionately about the spirit and hope of many African Americans. The author emphasizes the humanity, passion, and strength of the African American citizen despite the challenges experienced by the race in the country (Du Bois 12).
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This discussion explores the suggestions presented by William Du Bois towards improving the social, economic, cultural, and racial welfare of the African American community. The essay goes further to present the opposing views presented by Booker T. Washington.
William DU Bois: Means to Improve the Conditions of African Americans
The author begins the book by stating that “the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line” (Du Bois 3). The book gives a detailed analysis of the progress and hurdles experienced by the African American racial group. The author shows conclusively that members of this racial group encountered numerous obstacles. For example, the book indicates that the “history of the American Negro is that of strife” (Du Bois 8).
Such obstacles make it impossible for them to realize their potentials. However, Du Bois indicates clearly that there are numerous potentials for these African Americans in the 21st century. According to the text, the outstanding contribution of the Freedmen’s Bureau was the creation of African American schools (Du Bois 18). Du Bois goes further to describe why Booker T. Washington’s efforts supported the idea of race relations was counterproductive. This was the case because Washington chose to accept the idea of racial segregation.
Du Bois goes further to explain how different policies damaged the welfare and growth of many African Americans. Some laws made it impossible for these African Americans to vote. Consequently, these individuals lost their status in society. The government had failed to support the education of many minorities including African Americans. Failure to access quality education made it impossible for more African Americans to realize their potentials (Du Bois 43).
The right to vote, according to Du Bois, is a critical approach towards empowering more members of his race. This freedom will make it easier for them to engage in political activities, elect competent leaders, and eventually focus on the best economic activities (Du Bois 87). The positive achievements recorded by members of this community explain why Du Bois’ ideas have remained meaningful and applicable. The right to vote can improve people’s social, cultural, and economic positions.
The book supports the importance of civic equality (Du Bois 55). Equality is a powerful strategy that can open up new opportunities and ensure every African American focuses on the best activities. A society that promotes equality will realize most of its potentials (Du Bois 56). This fact explains why civic equality is supported as one of the best approaches towards promoting the social and economic welfare of many African Americans.
William Du Bois goes further to explain why African Americans should be empowered to pursue their educational goals. Members of this racial group should be able to attain a sophisticated higher education. The opportunity can make it possible for them to reap the goods associated with human civilization. Consequently, educated African Americans will eventually find it easier to educate their children (Du Bois 99). This practice can play a positive role in supporting the welfare, economic progress, and social identity of this racial group.
Du Bois believes strongly that this task should not be left in the hands of the whites. Instead, African American schools can be created to ensure more people have access to quality education. The learning process should also be personalized to suit the abilities of the targeted African American students. The strategy can play a critical role in supporting the progress of these African Americans. Du Bois believes that “institutions of higher learning should be able to teach quality education in an attempt to produce skilled men” (Du Bois 99).
In chapter thirteen, the author narrates the story of a young man named John. This young African American man manages to attain the best education despite the odds existing in the country. His knowledge and abilities explain how education can support the needs of many African Americans. Despite the challenges arising from racism, Du Bois believes strongly that education is a powerful tool capable of promoting the welfare of many African Americans (Du Bois 102).
The author writes that “the hard tales of cruelty and mistreatment of the chained freemen are told” (Du Bois 125). This fact explains why new changes are critical towards transforming the social position and economic welfare of many minority groups in the country. The most important thing is to “promote singular wisdom and patience” (Du Bois 103). The author believes that all “races are to live for many years side by side, united in economic effort, and obeying a common government” (Du Bois 104). Towards the end of the text, Du Bois uses music to symbolize a better future whereby more African Americans will improve their cultural positions in the country.
Booker T. Washington’s Critique
Although Booker T. Washington did not openly criticize Du Bois’ concepts and ideas towards improving the social, racial, economic, and cultural conditions of African Americans, he presented specific strategies that have been analyzed by many historians. African American activists supported agriculture as the best approach to uplifting the lives of many people in the community. The thinker focused on material progress in an attempt to support the needs of many African Americans. He supported a unique education system that would ensure more African Americans engaged in agricultural practices. Industrial education was supported by Washington in an attempt to ensure more African Americans had their businesses and lands.
From the very beginning, Booker T. Washington believed strongly in education. According to him, education could make it easier for more people to achieve their goals and eventually lead comfortable lives. He went ahead to discourage every effort aimed at maximizing the people’s civil rights (Washington 52). These ideologies explain why the scholar attracted the opposition of many African American thinkers and intellectuals such as William Du Bois. Despite such issues and differences, many anthropologists treat Booker T. Washington as a hero who fought for the rights of many minorities. His efforts have been admired by many people because he educated and united more African Americans than his predecessors.
DU Bois’ Presumed Defense
One of the outstanding facts is that William Du Bois treated Booker T. Washington as a great intellectual who played a positive role in supporting the black race. However, Du Bois uses the chapter “Of Booker T. Washington and Others” to examine the weaknesses of the ideas presented by this spokesman. Du Bois argues that Washington’s decision to support segregation affected the welfare of many African Americans. The old approach suggested by Booker T. Washington played a significant role in the loss of voting rights. Consequently, many African Americans were unable to access quality education (Washington 19).
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These issues made it impossible for many members of the race to realize their economic potentials. Consequently, Du Bois presented new ideas and arguments in an attempt to support the progress of the African American community.
The successes and achievements recorded by many African Americans in the 21st century can be attributed to the ideas of different activists such as Booker T. Washington and William Du Bois. These great intellectuals worked tirelessly in an attempt to every future descendant led a better life. By so doing, future African American generations would find it easier to realize their social and economic goals. From a personal perspective, I strongly believe that Du Bois’ ideas have played a positive role in improving the social, cultural, racial, and economic positions of many African Americans (Du Bois 100).
This thinker supported the role of voting rights, civic liberties, and education in an attempt to support the welfare of more people. These aspects and notions are believed to have catalyzed the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. The arguments by William Du Bois are applicable and relevant compared to those of Booker T. Washington. These lessons encouraged more African Americans to fight against the concepts of greed, corruption, and imperialism exercised by many whites in American society.
Du Bois, William. Souls of Black Folk, New York, NY: Pocket Books, 2005. Print.
Washington, Booker. Up From Slavery, Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1995. Print.