W.E.B. DuBois, “Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others”
from The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches, 1903

The Atlanta Compromise: Gospel of Work and Money,

To gain sympathy and cooperation of the various elements comprising the white South, his programme emphasized industrial education, conciliation of the South, and submission and silence as to civil and political rights: Thrift, Patience, and Industrial Training for the masses

"In all things purely social we can be as separate as the five fingers, and yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress."

Mr. Washington distinctly asks that black people give up, at least for the present, three things,

First, political power,
Second, insistence on civil rights,
Third, higher education of Negro youth,--

and concentrate all of their energies on industrial education, the accumulation of wealth, and the conciliation of the South.

Is it possible, and probable, that nine millions of men can make effective progress in economic lines if they are deprived of political rights, made a servile caste, and allowed only the most meagre chance for developing their exceptional men?

It is utterly impossible for workingmen and property-owners to defend their rights and exist without the right of suffrage….A silent submission to civic inferiority is bound to sap the manhood of any race.

The way for a people to gain their reasonable rights is not by voluntarily throwing them away and insisting that they do not want them; the way for a people to gain respect is not by continually belittling and ridiculing themselves; on the contrary, Negroes must insist continually, in season and out of season, that voting is necessary to modern manhood, that color discrimination is barbarism, and that black boys need education as well as white boys. . . .

The distinct impression left by Mr. Washington's propaganda is, first, that the South is justified in its present attitude toward the Negro because of the Negro's degradation; secondly, that the prime cause of the Negro's failure to rise more quickly is his wrong education in the past; and thirdly, that his future rise depends primarily on his own efforts.

Unless his striving be not simply seconded, but rather aroused and encouraged, by the initiative of the richer and wiser environing group, he cannot hope for great success… His doctrine has tended to make the whites, North and South, shift the burden of the Negro problem to the Negro's shoulder and stand aside as critical and rather pessimistic spectators; when in fact the burden belongs to the nation

W.E.B. Du Bois, "The Talented Tenth," from The Negro Problem: A Series of Articles by Representative Negroes of To-day (New York, 1903).

The problem of education, then, among Negroes must first of all deal with the Talented Tenth; it is the problem of developing the Best of this race that they may guide the Mass away from the contamination and death of the Worst….

Now the black boy of the South moves in a black world—a world with its own leaders, its own thoughts, its own ideals. In this world he gets by far the larger part of his life training, and through the eyes of this dark world he peers into the veiled world beyond. Who guides and determines the education which he receives in his world? His teachers here are the group-leaders of the Negro people—the physicians and clergymen, the trained fathers and mothers, the influential and forceful men about him of all kinds; here it is, if at all, that all culture of the surrounding world trickles through and is handed on by the graduates of the higher schools.

Work alone will not [uplift a people] unless inspired by the right ideals and guided by intelligence. Education must not simply teach work—it must teach Life. The Talented Tenth of the Negro race must be made leaders of thought and missionaries of culture among their people. No others can do this and Negro colleges must train men for it. The Negro race, like all other races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men.