Civil rights readings

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Introduction

After the end of Civil War and abolishment of slavery in America, the condition of American Negros worsened with the introduction of the Jim Crow Law in southern States that segregated Blacks from Whites. The blacks were denied freedoms and civil rights including the right to vote and to education. Violence against blacks including lynching, murder and job discriminations arose because of the government’s abandonment, resulting in view as inferior second-class citizens at the mercy of White Supremacists in the South. Negro leadership in the south sought ways and ideologies to gain acceptable status with the South. Booker T. Washington agitated for peaceful means including education to increase acceptability hence social recognition. W.E.B Du Bois agitated for demanding human rights to vote and education. The paper discusses Washington’s versus Du Boise’s approach to seeking social recognition.

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Industrial Education

Booker T. Washington focused on helping the Negro become economically empowered and influential socially through being specialized workers by Industrial education in farming, carpentry, masonry and laundry skills. Booker argued for a rigorous mental and religious training for the prosperity of the Negro race. To insist on the importance of industrial Education, Booker listed Liberia, Hayti and Santo Domingo, which despite having the enormous resources have remained poor due to lack of industrial skills of production. Booker writes of a period after the war where the Negros viewed doing less labor as resembling their slave masters. However, since the white man preferred slaves over agricultural machinery, after the freedom of slaves, the south “was without food, shelter, and clothing” (Washington 13). Education to the Negro seemed like of slavery hence many abandoned it, worsening the condition of the South.

Booker’s Tuskegee industrial training center made brick, wheelwork for wagons and buggies and offered printing services. The white people came for the craft from the institution thus increasing the interaction of the Whites and Negros, thus interlinking their daily interests. Booker says “friction between races will pass away as the Blackman, by reason skill and intelligence…can produce something that the white man wants or respects in the commercial world” (Washington 12). In this case, Booker urges that with increased productivity of the Negro to the society the more the acceptability. By dependence of the Whites on the Negro for some skillset the more the confidence and respect accorded to him. With this in mind, the Negro parents began to send children to industrial schools and thus stimulated production and social trade between the races of the south. Because of the increased interdependence, the white man eventually acknowledges the importance of the Negro vote as they bring in more economic progress and alleviating poverty in the South.

Higher education and right to vote

Du Bois however, was a critic of Washington’s call for industrial education but letting go of civil rights and civil freedoms. Du Bois wrote, “The black men of America have a duty to perform duty stern and delicate…to oppose part of the work of their greatest leader” (Du Bois 29). According to Du Bois, Washington calls for Negro to submit to the white man in order to survive by giving up political power, demand for civil rights and the quest for advanced education to focus on mechanical training, collection of riches and the assuagement of the South. As such, the advocacy call resulted or speeded up the disenfranchising of the blacks, the establishment of a legitimate status of the mediocrity of the blacks and removal of help in organizations of higher learning of the Negros.

Du Bois points out the paradox brought about by the Washington’s advocacy. Denial of right to vote makes the Negros unable to compete in the business world. Civic inferiority of the Negroes goes against self-respect and thrift advocated by Washington. Higher education is the source of the teachers who teaches in the Tuskegee yet Washington advocates for Negros to abandon the call for higher education. In opposition to Washington, Du Bois demanded that black men ought to have the right to education, civic equality, and vote to all youth according to their ability (Du Bois 25-26). Du Bois rejects Washington’s idea for the narrow-mindedness and its devaluation of study of liberal arts and ignoring the injustices to Negros and the exploitation of blacks through ‘industrial slavery’. According to Du Bois, colleges and universities are better sources of education for the Blackman for healthier moral and mental development.

Lynching Laws

Ida Barnett exposes the alarming numbers of murders of blacks by white men in the south during Reconstruction “…Eight negros lynched since last issue of the free speech….” (Wells-Barnett 33). Local, state and federal governments fail to prosecute those responsible for the crime even when well known. Through the case studies provided, the federal government’s failure to intervene resulted in the denial of freedom and civil rights to Blacks to exist as free men as enshrined in the Constitution. The blacks in the South are accused of raped which in most cases they are innocent and lynched. Even with consensual relationships with white women, and lynchings without a trial or questioning take place in major towns.

Conclusion

Du Bois and Washington’s approach to finding social recognition and rights differed but both had the same goals for the people of social justice. Washington believed that by equipping the Negro with industrial skills increases the dependence of the White man on the Negro, thereby increasing the interaction with them. As a result, civil rights and social equalities allocated to them. Du Bois on the other hand called for Negros to demand equal rights to Whites including the right to vote and access to higher education. He urges the Blacks to reject Washington’s teachings of Patience, Thrift and Industrial Education, as they are source of subjection by the whites and source of industrial slavery.

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  1. Pendleton, Joseph. Civil Rights Readings. Victorville, 2017.
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