Self Help is all we Need?

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Who can we go to if we don’t believe in anyone. That was the mindset of most African Americans during the time period of the jim crow era and post reconstruction. Though the civil war had ended at this point in time and African Americans were to be considered to be free. That notion wasn’t fully true, Though African Americans aren’t forced to be enslaved anymore, that wasn’t the case for a lot of African Americans. There were not a lot of job opportunities for African Americans other than sharecropping in which essentially was the same kind of work African Americans did as slaves. Which was working on forms or be servants in the household or etc. A lot of the state laws in the south didn’t help African Americans, such as abused voting laws or when it came to owning property and etc. From the beginning African Americans barely had a chance to fully integrate to the society of that time. Booker T Washington a product of his surroundings saw these problems as he grew up. Washington at a young age worked in salt furnace and also served as houseboy for a white family.

While working under that family Washington learned important virtues like cleanliness, frugality and personal morality. For an education Booker went to Hampton Institute which was considered to be one of the earliest schools for freedman. In also this school was devoted to industrial education skill, in which Booker would use in his school in Tuskegee.[footnoteRef:0] Booker learned and believed in that for African Americans to gain equal rights and opportunity in America, they needed to earn their chance by relying on self determination and accommodation and integrating properly into society with moral behavior and manners. Though there was in opposition of a different belief when it came to African Americans and their rights as W.E.B Dubois expressed many times as being against Washington’s methods. However I believe Washington’s belief in self help and accommodation was the most effective philosophy and of his time and it would lead to African Americans more rights and opportunity in jim crow America and even more.

It was clear change was needed in South for African Americans. The institution of slavery had been used in the south for far to long and people like Washington took notice of that. It was clear that many African Americans had suffered and gone through a lot under slavery. There was instance in which Washington recalls that African Americans truly did seek freedom from slavery. What had occurred was the Washington had meet a man who made a contract with his former master. In which the slave could essentially buy himself, and work for whoever offered him a good wage. The slave went all the way to Ohio for work by that point the emancipation proclamation had been enacted in which meant the slave no longer had any obligation to his former master. However the slave still wanted to buy his freedom, thus he went back to his master which was a great distance which was Ohio to Virginia. When Washington heard this slave’s story he knew the slave didn’t need to pay of the debt but the slave gave his word and promise to his master in which he wanted to keep. The slave felt his freedom wouldn’t have felt as right if he didn’t fulfill his end of the bargain with his former master. However one thing held true all in all Washington never heard of any instance of slave wanting to stay as a slave and not become a free man. [footnoteRef:1] Even an a particular instance like this shows that no person ever wanted to be a slave again once the emancipation proclamation was put into place.

Though this story shows the devotion of a slave but it one thing it was clear that this slave wanted to earn his freedom the way he intended, he had no plans of taking the easy route and forgetting his promise to his former master. However with freedom on the horizon Booker was ecstatic and happy like any other African American was during this time. However immediately after the fact Booker had realized something that being freed was essentially a huge responsibility. Slaves now had control of their own lives now they had to do everything for themselves now they were in charge of their own lives. Booker this situation and compared it to a young boy going out in world and trying to provide for himself. And reality that comparison was extremely accurate for African Americans who had just attained freedom. After realizing the severity of their situation so many questions would need to be answered, on how freed slaves should raise their own children or even proving their citizenship or what church should they attend. For those reason it wasn’t surprising that celebration of freedom lasted so short for African Americans.[footnoteRef:2] With the problem at hand it was clear African Americans needed help with their new lives. Thus the need for self help and accommodation arose Booker saw that African Americans are the only ones who can fix their situation and improve their lives with education and vocational skills. However he made it clear that White Americans instead of disapproving African Americans they need be patient and try accept African Americans into society.

Both Du Bois and Washington fought for the sake of freed African Americans. Though they had different approaches and beliefs on how freed African Americans should live their lives in American society, they both were both huge advocates for the advancements of African Americans in Jim Crow America. However both their philosophies were most certainly different to say the least. However I personally believe Washington methods would be the most effective when it comes to African Americans and improving their livelihood in post jim crow America.
Both men believed in education of African Americans however in different aspects of it so to speak. Washington believed by getting to be dependable and predominant workers, in the long run making themselves essential to the monetary prosperity of the nation. So as to achieve this, Blacks required the correct type of training: an instruction that would be helpful in a monetary sense. Given his involvement with Hampton, Washington felt that mechanical training was better than scholarly instruction for accomplishing his objective of Black social improvement. Washington trusted that Black training to be directed to the point that the best extent of the psychological quality of the majority will be conveyed to manage upon the regular down to earth things of life, after something that is should have been done, and something which they will be allowed to do in the network in which they dwell [footnoteRef:3].Washington believed that African Americans had to accommodate for themselves to contribute to society and therefore gain equal rights.While Dubois on the other hand agreed with Washington that advancement among the Black race needed to happen, however he trusted that it would be all the more relevantly served through a streamed down means,a, DuBois chose that the main way that African Americans could progress was through the initiative of the high societies. Along these lines the term skilled tenth was embraced.

DuBois was inflexible in his conviction that scholarly direction from the best and most splendid among the Black race was the methods by which to propel African Americans. He had confidence in the advanced education of a Talented Tenth who through their insight into present day culture could control the American Negro into a higher human progress. DuBois realized that without this the Negro would need to acknowledge white authority, and such administration couldn’t generally be trusted to direct this gathering into self-acknowledgment and to its most astounding social conceivable outcomes. While Dubois believed that trusted that the Negro as a proficient specialist could pick up riches and that in the long run through his responsibility for he would most likely accomplish a perceived spot in American culture and could then teach his kids as he may wish and build up his potential outcomes (footnote)[footnoteRef:4]. I believe Washington’s approach and philosophy was definitely more suited and reasonable for African Americans for the time. I believe it would be a lot easier for an African American male to learn useful vocational skills and be able to contribute to society. Compared to Dubois philosophy on a talented tenth and have African American have a major standing society, it takes a lot to get into to the top of society. [3: ] [4: ]

Self determination is all it takes. That’s what Washington believed in. African Americans had what they needed to get by in society. He pushed that African Americans could accomplish their established rights through their very own monetary and good headway by getting to be proficient at pragmatic abilities, for example, cultivating, carpentry, and workmanship as opposed to seeking after lawful and political methods for aggregate progression. Additionally, he propelled the possibility that African Americans should “bargain” and assent to isolation, a position which led him to the title of “The Great Accommodator.”[footnoteRef:5] Washington believed that African Americans had to help themselves with they can do and handle. At the time most were able to handle doing work as slaves, so by getting and advanced education on useful trades and vocational skills they would be able to contribute to society with a lot more ease. While when it came to politics there are only a handful of African American people at the time period who were well versed in advocating the advancements and equality for African Americans in post jim crow America. During Washington famous Atlanta compromise speech, he was also advocated that White Americans must do their part in allowing African Americans to advance in society, and they needed to contribute in their own ways. In one sentence he condensed his idea of race relations fitting for the occasions: “In everything that are simply social we can be as discreet as the fingers, yet one as the deliver everything basic to shared advancement.” as an end-result of African Americans staying quiet and socially separate from whites, the white network expected to acknowledge obligation regarding improving the social and monetary states of all Americans paying little respect to skin shading[footnoteRef:6]. As much as African Americans make their strides in society. It needs to be accepted by White Americans as well or all of this would be for nought. African Americans were to do their part and follow in Washington’s belief than they would deserve to get more rights and the equality they deserve, because they are doing their part to contribute to society. At the end of the day white America needs to “cast down their bucket”. To really improve society it needs to be an collective effort from all races.


Booker T Washington was one the most influential figures in his time, and today even. He came from the same beginnings like many other slaves of his time. When he became a free man he took that opportunity to change his life for the better, and in doing so he would slowly began to change the lives of all African Americans around him as well. Washington pride and joy was the Tuskegee institute. Tuskegee showed African Americans mechanical aptitudes and exchanges that would make them increasingly significant residents Washington contrasted from other African Americans of his day in that he didn’t approach whites to pay for blacks to acquire what most white Americans did not have-a human sciences instruction that concentrated on expanding the mind through the investigation of established music, logic, craftsmanship history, and arithmetic. Thus the idea of self accommodation comes back in, it was up to African Americans to find their way in society.While on the other hand W.E.B. Du Bois, his Harvard-taught partner, spoke to the requirements and wants of a progressively first class body electorate, as can be gathered from his support of an aesthetic sciences instruction of what he alluded to as the “Gifted Tenth” of the dark race. This leftover, he contended, would work in the interest of the advancement of the others .

Du Bois’ elitism was likewise clear in his encircling of issues and arrangements [footnoteRef:7]. However with every beliefs and philosophy there is always an opposition against it. One main notion that is always brought up when it comes to Washington’s work is that. The overwhelming rationale of the post-Reconstruction time held that the genuine issue wasn’t white racists, however carpetbaggers and eavesdroppers from up North who’d raised uneducated blacks over their station. The white Southerner, apparently, had no existential complaint to blacks, they simply would not like to live nearby to them or have an unskilled and ethically degenerate populace choosing their legislators. To this Washington, and quite a bit of Black America, said Fine. Truce. You let us be, we’ll left you alone[footnoteRef:8]. Essentially its that idea White Americans were willing to cooperate with African Americans and their progressions but not co exist together in society. Nonetheless Washington and his beliefs lead to a lot like the forming of NAACP, and it lead to African Americans to contribute to society within their own capabilities. However as Washington was getting older and new philosophies like DuBois came into picture, self help and accomodation was slowly dying out. However if Washington’s philosophies kept spreading and were to be integrated for all African Americans in post jim crow America. I genuinely believe America would of turned out different for all the right reasons. All African Americans needed to get equality and the rights they deserve is to work hard get good vocational skills they can use and pass on to the next generation. And lastly for society to cast down their bucket and except what African Americans are doing and choose to acknowledge them as fellow human beings who contribute to society in America. That is why I believe in Booker T Washington Philosophy of self help and Accommodation is the most influential philosophy of its time and our current time as well. 


  1. Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Atlanta Compromise.” Encyclopædia Britannica. December 06, 2016. Accessed May 02, 2019.
  2. Coates, Ta-Nehisi. “The Tragedy And Betrayal Of Booker T. Washington.” The Atlantic. September 18, 2017. Accessed May 02, 2019.
  3. Editors, “Booker T. Washington.” October 29, 2009. Accessed May 02, 2019.
  4. Johnson, Keith V., and Elwood Watson. “The W. E. B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington Debate: Effects upon African American Roles in Engineering and Engineering Technology.” Https:// Accessed May 2, 2019.
  5. Swain, Carol M. “Why Booker T. Washington Is Still Relevant.” History News Network. Accessed May 02, 2019.
  6. WASHINGTON, BOOKER T. UP FROM SLAVERY: An Autobiography. S.l.: BLURB, 2019.
  7. Washington, Booker T. “(1896) Booker T. Washington, “Democracy and Education” • BlackPast.” BlackPast. February 01, 2019. Accessed May 02, 2019.
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Self Help Is All We Need?. (2021, Jun 03). Retrieved from

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