History: WEB vs Booker T. Washington

Assignment: BTW and WEB, Comparing Childhoods and Philosophies

How does your childhood–the circumstances of where you were born and raised– shape your outlook and politics?

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A. BTW Sets Up Tuskegee

BTW having graduated from Hampton is charged with setting up “nornmal” school Tuskegee, Alabama, in the heart of what had been the cotton kingdom. What should young people –many seeking to become teachers themselves– study to survive in farm country and for black people a potentially dangerous place to live?

After graduating from Hampton, BTW at the age of 25 establishes July 4, 1881, Tuskegee. He explains the difficult of teaching ex-slaves.

Read BTW, Up From Slavery (autobiography) and click here:Teaching School in A Stable and Hen-House (see attachment)

B. WEB: Born Free and Talented

W.E.B. Dubois though very poor was born free and privileged to live in Massachusetts, a progressive state. He was also privileged, it appears, because he was considered the smartest boy in class.

Read, click here: “Willie” (see attachment) in How Lincoln Learned to read pp.161-83.

C. BTW versus WEB

Read “BTW and WEB: The Problem of Negro Leadership” by Robert A. Gibson, Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute. Click here: Conflicting educational/political philosophies (see attachment)

D. Answer these questions fully and completely to demonstrate your understanding of the above readings:

1. Explain, based on the reading, the conflict between BTW and the newly arriving students over the purpose of education. What did the students want to learn and what did BTW/Miss Davidson believe they SHOULD learn. A nice paragraph explaining the conflict.

2. Explain the conflicting and differing attitudes of the white people regarding Negro education.

3. As an astute youngster, WEB seemed keenly aware of differences regarding race and class. What were the class and ethnic differences he was exposed to in the largely white northern town of Great Barrington? How did he consider his status as a black boy?

4. High school was a relatively new institution when WEB attended. Who was most likely to attend and for what purpose?

5. What “drove” WEB despite poverty to stay in school when most others white or black moved on??

6. For what reasons– you may list them– did DuBois object to Washington’s political and educational program?

7. Explain in a well-developed paragraph how the BTW focus on vocational education and political accomodation might be reconciled with WEB’s emphasis on professional education and activism?