Educational Thought for Black Advancement

Both Washington and Du Bois were prominent Blacks who propagated education but in different manner. The book Norton Anthology of African American Literature applauds the efforts of these two Black leaders in the field of education and refers to their works with respect. However, it states that both these leaders failed to make any significant reform in the Black education system. In his famous book, Up from Slavery, Washington stresses on the industrial education of the Blacks. He reasoned that a vocation, or a job oriented study would help the Blacks realize their dreams and start an early and successful career of their liking. However, Du Bois in later years dismissed Washington’s claim on industrial education as an essential way of uprising of Blacks and instead stressed on the classical education form. Let us see the background of these writers and the points that the deliver in support of their thinking. Booker T. Washington Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) was an African American born in the family of a slave. He was the son of a Black slave woman and a White planter. He rose in his life due to proper education and became the last Black politician born into slavery. Washington dominated the America’s African American community during the period of 1890 to 1915. Besides being a political leader, Washington was also an orator, author and educator. Washington remained in power because he was able to influence both the prominent Southern Whites and also the business class Blacks. Besides, Washington was also able to influence the religious and educational classes. Along with his views, he also promoted for black individuals to obtain training in service trades and agricultural occupations (Meier 397). Washington is most famously known for his book Up from Slavery (published 1901). Up from Slavery Up from Slavery is an autobiographical book where Washington pens down his difficulties in rising up from slavery and educate him. Washington was convinced that there is no education which one can get from books and costly apparatus that is equal to that which can be gotten from contact with great men and women…. Instead of studying books … how I wish that our schools and colleges might learn to study men and things (Washington, 1965, p. 49). Washington adopted the means of slow and steady progress and he advocates the same means to his Black readers. The main stress is on useful and marketable skills to pull the Blacks up as a race. Washington realizes that freedom was a great responsibility and that slaves realized they had to think and plan for themselves and their children including the question … of a school … for colored children (Washington 1965, pp. 27 – 28, 32) Washington urges the people of his community that while pursuing an education they should undergo some sort of a vocational or industrial training so that they could earn a decent living for themselves. He termed classical form of education for blacks as impractical. However, the Negroes belonging to working class South and Alabama rejected this theory and demanded more classical form of education for blacks. Critics said opined that this was Washington’s his was also a way of winning the goodwill of the White Southerners who would benefit from the skills of the Black and establish the African Blacks as a useful community. Washington suffered much criticism due to his beliefs and one of his most ardent critics was W. E. B. Du Bois. W. E. B. Du Bois W.