Counter Argument Essay On Washington’s Role In Black Advancement


Some critics claim that DuBois is not justified in his harsh criticism of Washington’s approach to black equality and integration because of Washington’s leadership with his beneficial educational institution for the Negroes and emphasis of Negro education as a means to improve relations with the white race. Bauerlein in “The Tactiful Life of Booker T Washington” writes about Washington’s role in black advancement when he writes that “he was the topmost supervisor of black politics and advancement” and explains that the Washington’s institution called the Tuskegee Institute was “an affiliation mighty enough to control hiring, suppress opposition, and funnel monies accordingly” (Bauerlein). Bauerlein’s description of Washington’s position on black progress and the Tuskegee Institute proves that DuBois’ criticizing Washington’s approach is not justified. DuBois ,however, does criticize Washington for limiting the educational opportunities for the Negroes. By stating the education at the Tuskegee Institute benefits the Negroes in terms of finding employment, stopping opposition from the white race, and helping the Negroes financially, this does not completely limit the education for the Negroes. Thus, DuBois’s criticism is not justifiable because Washington led an educational institution that did provide some benefits for the Negroes and did not limit their education.  DuBois’ criticism of Washington is also not validated when Washington mentions that the “friction between the races will pass away” by the Negroes’ use of “reason of his skill, intelligence, and character” which will allow the Negro to gain respect from the white races (Washington). Washington’s emphasis on education allows the Negroes to develop skills, intelligence, and character. While DuBois feels that Washington accepts the white race and Negro race not having a good relationship, Washingtion explains that the “friction” or disagreement between the white race and Negroes will go away if the Negroes are educated which will allow them to gain respect from the white race. For these reasons, some critics assert that DuBois is not sound in his severe criticism of Washington’s approach to equality and assimilation for the Negroes because of the Tuskegee Institute, which over time allowed Negroes to have better connections with the white race. Nonetheless, some critics argue that DuBois’ criticism for Washington’s process to black equality and integration is justified because Washington approaches black advancement as a gradual process of the Negroes lifting themselves up through practical training rather than DuBois’s approach of the Negroes fighting for their equality and rights. In DuBois’s speech, he criticizes Washington’s gradualism when he says that “until we get these rights we will never cease to protest and assail the ears of America'' (DuBois). Based on DuBois’ word choice of “never cease to protest,” this illustrates his more aggressive and determined attitude towards black advancement while Washington has a more patient attitude and focuses on bringing the Negroes up in society through hard work and industrial education.  In other words, DuBois denounces Washington for not urging the Negroes to continue to fight for their rights. Thus, DuBois’s criticism is justifiable because Washington illustrates black advancement as a step- by- step process and urges the Negroes to accept discrimination in society until they work their way up. Hughes in “The Ballad of Booker T” portrays Washington’s gradual method when he writes “till the soil/And learn from the land/ let down your bucket/where you are" (Hughes). By Hughes mentioning to "let down your bucket where you are," this receives criticism from DuBois about Washington's approach to black advancement. Washington approaches the black progress by bringing the "bucket" down meaning that the Negroes should start down then work their way up in society by hard work and material prosperity. DuBois feels that this hinders black progress because he feels that the Negroes should fight for their advancement instead of working their way up. Since Hughes used a paraphrase of Washington’s words in his speech, DuBois would find fault in his words. Therefore, some critics agree that DuBois’ criticism of Washington’s approach to black advancement is valid because Washington accepts racial discrimination and focuses on elevating the Negroes in society through hard work rather than fighting for equality and ending discrimination 
  

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