A Comparison Between Booker T. Washington (19th century) and Martin Luther King Jr. (20th century)

5383 Words Mar 30th, 2004 22 Pages
COMPARISON PAPER

I. INTRODUCTION

For decades, Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) was the major African-American spokesman in the eyes of white America. Born a slave in Virginia, Washington was educated at Hampton Institute, Norfolk, Virginia. He began to work at the Tuskegee Institute in 1881 and built it into a center of learning and industrial and agricultural training. A handsome man and a forceful speaker, Washington was skilled at politics. Powerful and influential in both the black and white communities, Washington was a confidential advisor to presidents. For years, presidential political appointments of African-Americans were cleared through him. He was funded by Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, dined at the White House
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The school's name was later changed to Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University). The school taught specific trades, such as carpentry, farming, and mechanics, and trained teachers. As it expanded, Washington spent much of his time raising funds. Under Washington's leadership, the institute became famous as a model of industrial education. The Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site, established in 1974, includes Washington's home, student-made college buildings, and the George Washington Carver Museum. Though Washington offered little that was innovative in industrial education, which both northern philanthropic foundations and southern leaders were already promoting, he became its chief black exemplar and spokesman. In his advocacy of Tuskegee Institute and its educational method, Washington revealed the political adroitness and accommodationist philosophy that were to characterize his career in the wider arena of race leadership. He convinced southern white employers and governors that Tuskegee offered an education that would keep blacks "down on the farm" and in the trades. To prospective northern donors and particularly the new self- made millionaires such as Rockefeller and Carnegie he promised the inculcation of the Protestant work ethic. To blacks living within the limited horizons of the post- Reconstruction South, Washington held out industrial education as the means of escape from the web of sharecropping and
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