I believe both Dubois and Washington had very valid points. I do not believe that neither man was trying to put any Negro down, but more so uplift them. There are some major differences that cause each man to react as they do and to choose their chose of diction carefully as well.
Washington is giving a speech in front of whites and Negro. He was personally asked to conduct his speech. A speech takes less time to prepare and because he is faced with a mixed audience Washington must appeal to both races. This is why he must be careful with his word choice. He must speak the truth without actually saying it.
The instant he spoke of the Negros, calling them ignorant and inexperience was the first attention grabber that interested the white audience, but when he says, “It is not strange in the first few years of our new life we begin at the top instead of the bottom” (Washington 1), that is when he began to appeal to the Negros. After working such mediocre jobs for many years, the desire of more challenging working habits are desired. Since they were once denied the finer things in life, as in education, reading, political voices, etc. one would first be looking forward to attain the things that were at one time unreachable to many.
The most interesting part of the speech was when he spoke of the people lost at sea and them having to cast down their buckets to acquire fresh water to quench their thirst. To the whites he could have possibly been saying that the Negros must cast down their buckets unto them to better their selves and to learn from their white counterparts, but to his fellow Negros he was saying that they must not flee to the North in hopes of a better life but stay in the South and create that life. They must cast down their buckets where they currently are and continue to build up this civilization that once and still does thrive upon them. You must befriend your enemy for your own continuation.
I was unsure of what he meant in the fifth paragraph, but my interpretation is that though a percentage of the Negros are to continue life by working with their hands, there are ways they are able to enhance it by dignifying and glorifying there prosperity.
To the whites Washington wishes to say that they, as well, need to cast down their buckets to the thousands of Negros amongst them who have befriended them, nurtured and cared for them, giving them what riches they have today. Do not put them down, but uplift them.
This speech is both moving and inspiring to both races. I believe that Washington did an exceptional job with uniting the races more than they once were.
Dubois, on the other hand, had the privilege to create and essay which takes more time, proof reading and editing. It does not seem that Dubois was too concerned at the thoughts of the white men upon his writing. He seemed more concerned about getting out his message.
As Dubois speaks of the Talented Ten he is basically stating that there are a select few within every generation, within every race that are selected to uplift, inspire and lead their people to prosperity. The first task at hand though would be to pick out the men and men are hard to come by. “Men we shall have only as we make manhood the object of the work of the schools” (Dubois ¶1), anything else would produce something different. I agree with Dubois to a certain extent. Manhood would be the first object, but there could be others that followed, as in money and technical skills. It is always good to come upon someone who is multitalented. Why can’t you be a man who knows how to make money and can be an artisan?
The task of the people who are to help guide those who are of the Talented Ten ask to show how these men are worthy of leadership, how they are educated and developed and show relation to the Negro problem. The Negro problem is under a wide variety of things, but I believe it is only a stereotype. The things that are said and how Negros is portrayed gives them the thought that they are as everyone says and that is not true. There is only one Negro problem, and that is everyone else who influence and support such ludicrous thoughts.
Dubois reflects back upon history giving examples of people categorized under the Talented Ten, also known as the Revolutionary Group of Distinguished Negros. He mentions Phillis Wheatley, Paul Cuffe, Benjamin Banneker, Dr. James Derham and Lemuel Haynes. These notable people where the first inspirational leaders of the Talented Ten, possessing special marked abilities that made them unique. Sadly their existence shortly faded into forgetfulness, but their presence was not fully gone but showed through others who came along.
These references give Negros something to look back upon history and to be proud of, encouraging those who still see the racial tension between races to act and to do as their forefathers did. Dubois explains that after the creation of the First Negro Convention in Philadelphia (1831), the Negro leaders became closer to the white men and began to make movements that swept the nation. These people stand as the winning possibilities of the Negro race. I was well impressed and pleased with Dubois’s writing so far, but when it came to the point where he question or current generation, I wasn’t too sure what response to give.
Who are the current leaders of our time who are guiding the Negro race? There are few, but few is not enough because the few we have are struggling and need others there for backup. “All men can not go to college, but some men must” (Dubois ¶15) and those that must, will be the backbones we are looking for.
Both men make very valid points and together their overall message is that we must come together s a race, not forgetting where we came from and who we came from. We are a race of pure intelligence and hold the spirit of greatness. We must uplift each other and not run away from the obstacles that stand ahead of us, but grasp each other’s hands and take on the challenge head first.
Dubois, William E.B. “Talented Ten.” Teaching American History. Ashland University, Sept. 1903. Web.
23 Feb. 2011
Washington, Booker T. “Atlanta Compromise.” History Tools. n.p, 18 Sept. 1895. Web. 23 Feb. 2011