Black Activism 1880-1930s

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Whilst it is the mid-twentieth century which most people not for being the zenith of black activism the early period also contained black activists who although were certainly not as successful nonetheless attempted to improve the lives of African-Americans.

Booker T. Washington -

  • Lived from 1856-1915, he was born a slave on a Virginia farm but after being freed he became very focused on improving the lives of African-Americans
  • He stressed the value of education and helping people to improve themselves
  • In 1881, he founded the Tuskegee Institute, a black school in Alabama devoted to training teachers. He was teaching agricultural skills which he saw as key to improving the situation
  • Washington was also behind the formation of the National ***** Business League 20 years later, again focused on helping people to improve themselves economically
  • Despite his grassroots approach, he did have some political interests as he served as an adviser to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft
  • His focus was on the social and economic improvement of Black Americans within the frame work of segregation and suppression. Washington didn't see the importance of legal change but focused more on people
  • He is recognized for his educational advancements and attempts to promote economic self-reliance among African Americans
  • It was this idea of self-reliance influenced which other thinkers and activists

W.E.B. Du Bois -

  • Du Bios lived from 1868-1963 and unlike Washington believed that improvements for African-Americans should be top down, focusing on political activism
  • He was grounded in academia, educated at Harvard University and other

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