In the aftermath of the Civil War, African-American leaders debated different plans for achieving racial equality. Booker T. Washington believed the initial focus should be on educating African Americans.  W.E.B. Du Bois insisted that achieving equal rights was essential.  In this lesson, students read a speech of Washington’s and a selection from Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk to consider who was a stronger advocate for African Americans.

Left image: Photo of W.E.B. Dubois published by Bain News Service. From the Library of Congress.
Right image: Photo of Booker T. Washington taken in 1903. From the Library of Congress.


I found this lesson to be very engaging. There was a high school in my area that was named after Booker T. Washington, however, my students were unaware of his legacy. They were very interested in the excerpt from the speech and this started an animated discussion about his views. They found Dubois' views to be more in line with theirs, however, they were challenged by Washington because of his past and how that may have shaped his views. Again, this was a great lesson and one that I will definitely continue to use in the future.
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