Conciliation, Agitation, and Migration: African Americans in the Early Twentieth Century

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In the earlier part of the twentieth century, black and white Americans had profoundly different views on the future of black people in America. Most white people believed black Americans were an inferior race capable of little more than manual labor and entitled to only the most basic legal rights. Washington’s speech was very influential to both races. He believed economic acceptance would lead to political and social acceptance. He was labeled as the spokesman for African American by white people. Washington was the operator of the Tuskegee machine. He had supporter as well as he had oppositions. One of his opposers was William Monroe Trotter, he referred to Washington as “the great traitor” the Benedict Arnold of the Negro race and pope Washington. He was the cause of the Boston riot. W.E.B. Du Bois gave Washington some opposition as well. Following the Boston riot, Du Bois published “The souls of black folk”. It contained the first formal attack on Washington and his leadership. He states “One hesistates, therefore, to criticize a life which, beginning with so little has done so much. And yet to the time is come when one may speak in all sincerity and utter courtesy of the mistakes and short comings of Mr. Washington’s career, as well as the triumphs.” He agreed with Washington on some issues but disagreed with him on the more significant ones; like failing to stand up for political and civil rights, higher education; and his willingness to compromise with the white south and agreeing that black people were not their equal. Du Bois joined the Talented Tenth that was the upper ten percent of black people. He believed they must be leaders of thought and missionaries of culture among people. He said “Education must not simple teach work, it must teach life”. He went a step further and met with twenty nine delegates at Niagara Falls in Canada.…...

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