Kenneth Robert Janken (Fellow, 2000–01)
February 21, 2012
In one lesson plan after another, Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois forever stand opposed. In the late nineteenth century both sought uplift for African Americans, but one believed it came through accommodation and manual training, while the other urged resistance and the liberal arts. Is that the entire story? Was Washington a narrow, uncreative booster of commercialism or a savvy politician who correctly read what late nineteenth-century America would afford its black citizens? Was Du Bois a heroic intellectual activist or a narrow elitist whose path to uplift was open only to the “Talented Tenth”?