Terror on Blacks in the South


In the late 19th century, at the end of the Reconstruction, blacks were forced to face that the measures to reconstruct the country had failed, and more importantly, terror on Blacks in the South had become worse than ever. This had begun to be a time when Blacks were separated from Whites by Jim Crow laws, forced into debt by the sharecropping system, lynched daily, and painted as murderers, rapists, intellectually inferior, and all around immoral. Many white southerners were still angry after the civil war and resented blacks, their only goal was to keep the black race down, and used many different tactics such as the Ku Klux Klan’s reign of terror, literacy tests and intimidation to keep Blacks from voting, and harsh “Black Codes” that largely restricted Blacks.

Alternately, though Northern cities did not see a significant Black population increases until 1915(Bufalino, lecture 3, slide 10), there was still segregation and many help the belief that they were superior to the black race. There was still no definite course of action on how to achieve racial equality. Though Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois made valiant efforts to lift their race; Washington’s approach was much more practical and attainable in the harsh realities of the United States. Booker T. Washington’s plan for future equality for the Black race was a better fit for the historical conditions and attitudes, because his moderate approach allowed for increased White support, and slowly lifted the entire class through technical education that would lead them out of debt and achieve self-sufficiency.

Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois, two highly regarded Black men, rose up to take on the challenge of lifting the entire African-American race. Booker T. Washington was born a slave in Virginia in 1856, and after emancipation, he did labor and received a technical education until he eventually founded Tuskegee Institute, an industrial school (Harlan). On the other hand, W.E.B. Du Bois was born free in 1868 in Massachusetts and was educated at several different elite universities and later became a teacher at Atlanta University (Hill). Having been born a slave, Washington had a much better understanding of the harsh conditions of the South. He had the more moderate approach of the two, he believed in accommodation, industrial education, and self-help.

He reasoned that blacks should accept discrimination for the time being and focus on bettering themselves and earning the respect of whites through patience and hard work. In his speech at the Atlanta Exposition in 1895, he said: “The wisest among my race understand that the agitation of questions of social equality is the extremist folly, and that progress in the enjoyment of all the privileges that will come to us must be the result of severe and constant struggle rather than of artificial forcing” (Washington). Washington was realistic, considering the majority of the country’s population was white. Slavery hadn’t ended in a day, and it would take time to have full civil rights. Alternatively, Du Bois directly opposed accommodation, and instead demanded immediate citizenship and civil rights, including the right to proper education to achieve racial equality. Though Du Bois’s demands were the optimal choice for the black race, Washington’s approach to achieving racial equality was much more realistic for the times.

Washington was able to offer many opportunities to poor Blacks to get out of debt by securing funds to establish the Tuskegee Institute and delivering many speeches encouraging political support for technical education. In Washington’s address “On Democracy and Education” delivered in 1896 in New York to mostly white, educated, and wealthy individuals (though not all were white, wealthy, or educated), he is able to persuade his audience to donate money toward industrial education by explaining that this education would be equally beneficial to all. He begins, “The strongest chain is no strong than its weakest link” (Washington), poor education in the South is a problem for the whole country. Due to the disparities in education in the North and South, our Nation is divided as educated voters and uneducated voters, and in order to put our country in good hands, we must have educated voters.

Washington’s speech also addressed that the lacking education system in the South was also affecting poor whites, and believed that education would help all rise out of poverty, learn ethics and virtue, and improve the overall well-being of the United States. He is also able to get their support by affirming their notion of white superiority: “let us examine with more care the work to be done in the South before all classes will be fit for the highest duties of citizenship” (Washington). He confirms White’s desires to remain in power, and though it was ultimately tricky for Black’s to face, Washington understood that it was the only way to receive funding for any form of education system. Education decreases racial prejudice, and Washington’s effort to raise the African image through schooling was an essential first step in eliminating racism.

Booker T. Washington attempted to solve the race’s current problems such as moving away from negative stereotypes and the cycle of poverty. As he said in his Atlanta Exposition Speech, “Cast down your bucket where you are” (Washington). Whites needed to accept that Blacks would be around forever and it was everyone’s duty to educate them for mutual benefits. Blacks needed to understand that rising out of an economy that forces them into the cycle of poverty was currently more important than gaining full civil rights. This applied to all races; before they could work towards full rights, they needed to understand the current situation and work from there.

In contrast, W.E.B. Du Bois’s ideas on how to end racial inequality were too radical for the early 20th century and in turn, became ineffective in raising the African-American race. Du Bois strongly believed that with the right to vote, came many other rights. In his “Niagara Movement” speech, delivered to a predominantly black audience in 1905, he strongly urged for the right to vote, an end to segregation, unrestricted freedom, better law enforcement, and equal, classical education. In his speech, he says, “With the right to vote goes everything: Freedom, manhood, the honor of your wives, the chastity of your daughters, the right to work, and the chance to rise” (Du Bois). Though he may not have been wrong that with the right to vote, come many other rights, his method of obtaining equal rights was too severe of the time. Citizenship and voting may have slowly lifted up the black race, but without support from Whites, the chances for citizenship would have been slim and Washington’s approach was more feasible.

Washington’s method for ending racial inequality was a better-suited plan for the times as it focused on the current issues of the black race, and provided an immediate, self-sufficient plan to rise out of poverty, that was supported by the majority of the population. Washington’s views were logical; there would be no point in having the right to vote if the majority of Blacks were incarcerated due to poverty and negative stereotypes. As in “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs,” before can we focus on our country’s well-being, we must focus on our well-being; food, shelter, and safety are first needed before we can even think about voting. Ultimately, both Washington and Du Bois had solid arguments for lifting the Black race, but Washington’s method of reaching racial equality was a more realistic approach and allowed for a slow, but continuous rise out of poverty and prejudice.

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Terror on Blacks in the South. (2021, Mar 04). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/terror-on-blacks-in-the-south/

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