Booker Washington Essay

Imagine being in a position that gave you the power to inspire a race and gain
the respect of another. Booker T. Washington, a prominent and extremely
successful African-American had that opportunity. This opportunity came in the
times of the emancipation of slavery. And when given the chance he excelled. In
his book, Up from Slavery, Booker T. Washington exposes readers to the hardships
he faced from the time he was a slave, until the times he became a leader among
African-Americans. His book gives detailed accounts of his life, from a first.

It speaks of slavery, racism, triumph, and struggle, which all couldn’t
overpower handwork. Hard working was something Washington believed in and was.

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The most in unheard voice at the time of slavery both past and present, was that
of the African-American women. During these periods, female accomplishments were
not recognized. These accomplishments have been brought forth for people to view
them in one of many books. The book, Voice from the South, by Anna Cooper
combines works of fiction, poetry, autobiographies, and biographies. Cooper was
one of few black woman of her time to earn a Ph.D. She was a feminist who
believed that women’s voices shouldn’t go unheard. The book displays great
moments of triumph that conquer over hard bearing obstacles. The book is quite
interesting one that focuses on black women’s writings in the nineteenth and
twentieth century. The context however seems to jump around from subject to
subject, which could often confuse the reader. This book seems to be drunk on
syntax blind to semantics. In other words this book tended to use words that
went around the subject. These books try to focus on all aspects of the
struggles of both women of color and of African Americans as a whole. A big
difference between these books is the fact that one of the voices was heard
while the other silenced. Though in times of racism, black males still received
more respect then women. My goal is to compare and contrast these two books.

Washington spoke a lot about his life through out his book. But the main point
he was trying to show was gaining education for the black race. As this was the
purpose in the Voice from the South. It was a long, tough road, for both Black
men and women alike. “I have learned that success is not measured not so
much by the position one has reached in life is, but by the obstacles he has
overcome while trying to succeed.” (Washington p.23) This is a quote
Washington lived by. Born a slave in Franklin county, Virginia. After the
emancipation, he and his family moved to West Virginia where his stepfather had
found work in the coalmines. The mines were to be the starting point for
Washington as he began his quest for education. He first started with a book
that taught the basics. Soon after that Washington set out to attend the Hampton
Institute in Virginia. There he would work as a janitor to pay his way through
college. He studied under a man by the name of General Armstrong, whom he
admired the most. After receiving his degree, he briefly went Armstrong, whom he
admired the most. After receiving his degree, he briefly went home only to be
called back to Hampton to teach. What he had learned from Hampton what could be
accomplished when you never give up. During this time at Hampton, Washington was
in charge of educating Indians with the help of his students, both male and
female. But what he really wanted to do was educate his own race. And with this
idea he received word from some men in Alabama, that there a request put in for
a teacher to come teach a school in Tuskegee. Booker T. Washington saw this
opportunity and accepted it. He then moved to Alabama to begin what would become
a legacy. The school was built by the students that attended, which would pay
for part of their tuition. Washington believed that it was better to earn a
trade than it was to study things such as Greek and the arts. “I have found
too that, that it is the visible, the tangible goes a long ways in softening
prejudices. The actual sight of a first-class house that a Negro built has built
is ten times more potent that the pages of discussion about a house that he
ought to build, or perhaps could build.”(Washington p.72) This view would
be later argued by another prominent black figure, W.E.B. Du Bois. So Tuskegee
became an institute of trade. Though in the midst of racism, Washington faced
triumph gaining the support of the whites in the Du Bois. So Tuskegee became an
institute of trade. Though in the midst of racism, Washington faced triumph
gaining the support of the whites in the community. To earn money for the
school, Washington set out across America in order to gain money for the school.

His campaign promoted teaching the Negro a trade as opposed to book knowledge.

Whites actively supported the teaching of a trade, feeling that the Negro would
never be first class. In Atlanta he gave his famous Atlanta Exposition Address.

Both races applauded the words spoken by him. But in it he seems to put black on
the bottom of the scale. “It is at the bottom we must
begin.”(Washington pg.101) This is the very statement that many educated
blacks such as Du Bois argued against. W.E.B. Du Bois believed in book
knowledge. This was the knowledge that would help the black man excel. In Alice
Cooper’s, Voice from the South, she believed in starting at the top. The object
was to recognize the female for her role in the rise of the race. But her book
shows females as the unheard part of the African American race. Cooper
states,” The colored women of to-day occupies, one may say, a unique
position in this country. In A period of itself transitional and unsettled, her
status seems one of the least ascertainable and definitive of all the forces
which make our civilization.” (Cooper pg.134). In the context with
“Voice from the South”, Cooper strived to raise the voice of the black
women. Men actually agreed with Cooper saying, they want females to learn as
much as they did. ” We are ready to make any modifications in those
relations which will satisfy the woman’s just aspiration for personal
independence, for intellectual and moral development, for the physical culture,
for political activity, and for a voice in the arrangement of her own affairs,
both domestic and national.” (Cooper pg.67) With in marriage, they felt
that women would make a better half if educated. All Cooper would hope to
accomplish would come in time. Her efforts were recognized by many in the United
States. She would be one of the first to put the African American female in the
national spotlight. In my opinion the two books focus on strong points. These
books attempted to show readers that black faced hardships to gain an education.

Even tougher was gaining education for Black females. Both Authors were leaders
in the African American Communities. Booker T. Washington and Anna Cooper
believed in the education of blacks being the stepping stone for the rise of the
race. The biggest difference between these two books was Washington focused on
the African American races as a whole, while Cooper focused on elevating the
females. In the case of Booker T. Washington, I feel given the situation and the
time at which it occurred, I would have probably followed along the lines of his
idea of education than that of Mr. Du Bois. Anna Cooper’s efforts to raise the
education of the black women hasn’t gone unnoticed. It brought a sense of pride
and respect form The African American women As did Washington’s campaign.


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