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Booker T. Washington
Born: April 5, 1856 - Franklin County, Virginia
Died: November 14, 1915 - Tuskegee, Alabama

Born a slave, he moved with his mother to West Virginia after emancipation. He began working in a salt furnace at 9. He worked his way through the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute as a janitor, graduating in 1875, and returned to teach there in
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Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois, Up From Slavery and The Souls of Black Folk
C-SPAN's Video Library: Booker T. Washington & W.E.B. Du Bois
1879. When the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute was founded in 1881 as a teacher-training school for blacks, Washington was chosen as its first principal. Under his guidance it thrived and grew impressively, eventually changing its name to Tuskegee University.

By the 1890s Washington had become the most prominent black leader in America. In a speech in Atlanta in 1895, he stated his conviction that blacks could best gain equality in America by improving their economic situation through education—particularly industrial training—rather than by demanding equal rights. His "Atlanta Compromise" was sharply criticized by other black leaders—including W. E. B. du Bois, who would become Washington's great intellectual opponent—though many blacks and most whites supported his views.

Works by Booker T. Washington
Up From Slavery (1901)
Tuskegee and Its People (1905)
The Life of Frederick Douglass (1907)
The Story of the Negro (1909)
My Larger Education (1911)
Washington's many books included the autobiographical Up From Slavery (1901), Tuskegee and Its People (1905), The Life of Frederick Douglass (1907), The Story of the Negro (1909), and My Larger Education (1911).

W.E.B. Du Bois
Born: February 23, 1868 - Great Barrington, Massachusetts
Died: August 27, 1963 - Accra, Ghana

Of African, French, and Dutch ancestry, Du Bois graduated from Fisk University and received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1895. From 1897 to 1910 he taught at Atlanta University. There he devoted himself to sociological investigations of the condition of American blacks, producing 16 research monographs and The Philadelphia Negro (1899), the first case study of an American black community.

Works by W.E.B. Du Bois
The Souls of Black Folk (1903)
Black Reconstruction(1935)
Dusk at Dawn (1940)
Autobiography (1968)

The intolerable racism that continued to oppress African-Americans led Du Bois to support change through agitation and protest, a position that put him at odds with the period's most influential black leader, Booker T. Washington, who favored accepting the status quo while working to win the respect of whites. Du Bois's landmark work The Souls of Black Folk (1903) expressed the view that such a strategy would merely perpetuate oppression. In 1905 he founded the Niagara Movement, which in 1909 merged with the new National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. From 1910 to 1934 he served as editor of the NAACP's magazine, the Crisis, which he used to encourage the development of black literature and art. At five Pan-African Conferences (1900-27), he called for independence for African colonies. He resigned from the NAACP for ideological reasons and returned to Atlanta University to teach sociology (1934-44), during which time he also edited the Encyclopedia of the Negro. In 1940 he founded the magazine Phylon, the university's "Review of Race and Culture." During this period he also produced two major books: Black Reconstruction(1935), a Marxist interpretation of the post-Civil War era, and Dusk at Dawn (1940), in which he viewed his own career as a case study illuminating the complexity of black-white conflict.

Du Bois later returned to the NAACP (1944-48), but following a second bitter quarrel he severed his connection and thereafter moved steadily leftward politically. He joined the Communist Party in 1961 and moved to Ghana, where he renounced his American citizenship. His Autobiography was published posthumously in 1968.

Web sites about Washington & Du Bois
Library of Congress's The Booker T. Washington Era
University of North Carolina Booker T. Washington Biography Site
Evaluating the Lives and Legacies of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois

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