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W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington are well known individuals for what they have achieved in their lives as leaders. They are recognized as significant leaders of the African American society during the period towards the end of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century. Although they were both leaders concerned with the same community, the African American, they often disagreed on some aspects for instance the strategies to be adopted for the sake of allowing prosperity of the African Americans both socially and economically. This piece of work gives critical information that help in comparing and contrasting the two leaders.
Similarities between W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington
Although W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington were distinct leaders governing African American society, they have some similarities in regard to their leadership styles as well as their general life. One similarity is that they both advocated for improvement of the African Americans and engaged in activities aimed at achieving this. They were both educated and had a good understanding of leadership and the different styles that could be applied to get things done. Both Du Bois and Washington died as heroes having accomplished a lot in regard to fighting for equality. Du Bois legacy as an informative writer and a strong racial leader especially being an Afro- American has lived to present. Washington has also been remembered for his realistic movements as he ensured that the African Americans achieved the best without interrupting the status quo. This made him receive a lot of power and authority which in turn enabled him to perpetrate even much things for which he is remembered to today. He appeared in the United States postage stamp as well as the 50 cent coin (Washington 117).
Even though W. E. B. Du Bois and Booker T Washington were very different in their leadership philosophies, they both influenced the black people in the United States of America to what they have come to be today through enlightening them on their rights and helping them to achieve them. They both came at a critical moment, after reconstruction, when the status of the African Americans in the southern American society weakened as they lost access to power (social, political and economic). It was the transition of the African American from a state of power to powerlessness that Du Bois and Washington came to their rescue (Du Bois 46).
Differences between W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington
There are some notable differences that exist between W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington in terms of their leadership undertakings as well as general life. W.E.B. Du Bois believed that civil rights could be attained through revolution movements while Booker T. Washington insisted that civil rights could be achieved through evolution. According to Booker Washington, the African Americans would only achieve success after reaching a certain level of development in various aspects. He therefore advocated for togetherness of the African Americans through carrying out processes aimed at development as well as emphasizing on financial progress and education prosperity. This was meant to empower them with relevant skills and knowledge that would help them to be involved in productive sectors of the economy. They were however required to wait before engaging in political activities. This would make the blacks to evolve from their poor status to a position close to the whites (Washington 5).
Du Bois W.E.B. on the other hand believed that the African Americans were not supposed to wait but rather to engage in all activities that would empower them in any way including politics. He based his argument on the fact that they also had their political rights just like the whites and so they were supposed to participating in governance to ensure that their needs were well incorporated in the state’s decisions making. As opposed to Washington Booker, Du Bois believed that the African Americans had no point of proving to the whites that they were worthy being treated equally but they ought to fight/ demand for what they were meant to receive as stipulated by the constitution of the United States of America. He advocated for confrontation while Washington advocated for use of indirect means (Du Bois 12).
Du Bois, having a black origin, was more vigorous in fighting for the blacks’ prosperity as he really understood what humiliation they went through as a result of being discriminated. Du Bois supported communism but always looked at the interests of his people. Washington on the other hand was very interested with the white culture and ideologies but played his part in helping the blacks move away from their problems.
It is evident that the two leaders are remarkable and both have played a great role in delivering the African Americans from captivity under the hands of the whites. Although there are some similarities between the two leaders, the differences seem to be more due to the approach they took in their leadership efforts. All in all, they were able to achieve their objectives as leaders.
Du Bois William Edward Burghardt. The Souls of Black Folk (An African American Heritage Book). Radford, VA: Wilder Publications, 2008.
Washington Taliaferro Booker. Up from Slavery: An Autobiography. Rockville, MD: Wild side Press LLC, 2007.