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Black History

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The textbook is African American Odyssey Volume 2, 6th edition  (5th edition is also acceptable) by Darlene Hine, et. al.

Write your answer as one integrated cohesive essay, rather than three separate question answers. Please make sure you answer all the questions as one essay and now three separate questions.  Demonstrate that you have read the textbook and the “Notes on Washington and Du Bois” on the Course Menu.


  1. Booker T. Washington has often been characterized as an “Uncle Tom” (Wikipedia: Uncle Tom is a derogatory term for a person of a low status group who is overly subservient with authority, or a black person who behaves in a subservient manner to white people.)  From reading this  passage of the Atlanta Compromise Speech below, which seems to be particularly groveling and “boot-licking,” it appears that he deserves this label. What do you think?  In the last sentence he accommodates to Jim Crow segregation.  Explain.

 . . . you can be sure in the future, as in the past, that you and your families will be surrounded by the most patient, faithful, law-abiding, and unresentful people that the world has seen. As we have proved our loyalty to you in the past, in nursing your children, watching by the sick-bed of your mothers and fathers, and often following them with tear-dimmed eyes to their graves, so in the future, in our humble way, we shall stand by you with a devotion that no foreigner can approach, ready to lay down our lives, if need be, in defense of yours, interlacing our industrial, commercial, civil, and religious life with yours in a way that shall make the interests of both races one. In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.

       2.Compare and contrast Washington’s  and Du Bois’ positions below.  With whom do you agree?

Washington (speaking about blacks who were newly emancipated from slavery) :

 Ignorant and inexperienced, it is not strange that in the first years of our new life we began at the top instead of at the bottom; that a seat in Congress or the state legislature was more sought than real estate or industrial skill; that the political convention or stump speaking had more attractions than starting a dairy farm or truck garden.. . .

Our greatest danger is that in the great leap from slavery to freedom we may overlook the fact that the masses of us are to live by the productions of our hands, and fail to keep in mind that we shall prosper in proportion as we learn to dignify and glorify common labour, and put brains and skill into the common occupations of life; shall prosper in proportion as we learn to draw the line between the superficial and the substantial, the ornamental gewgaws of life and the useful. No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem. It is at the bottom of life we must begin, and not at the top.

Du Bois:

The Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men. 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, in their own and other races. . . .

Can the masses of the Negro people be in any possible way more quickly raised than by the effort and example of this aristocracy of talent and character? Was there ever a nation on God’s fair earth civilized from the bottom upward? Never; it is, ever was and ever will be from the top downward that culture filters. The Talented Tenth rises and pulls all that are worth the saving up to their vantage ground. This is the history of human progress; . . .

3. The famous black sociologist E. Franklin Frazier put a new and devastating twist on W.E.B. Du Bois’ concept of the Talented Tenth, in his 1957 book entitled The Black Bourgeoisie.  Whereas Du Bois’ Talented Tenth was portrayed as a leadership class which was unselfishly dedicated to serving the masses of poor black people, unselfishly dedicated to the upliftment and advancement of the race, E. Franklin Frazier on the contrary, portrayed the same group as a parasitic class, which earned its wealth by leeching off the needs of the black masses, and who were only concerned with their own self-aggrandizement (making themselves look important), conspicuous consumption (buying fancy clothes, cars and homes for others to see and envy) and mimicking the white upper middle class or trying to “keep up with the Joneses” — even though their incomes were not in the same class as the white bourgeoisie. For Frazier the black bourgeoisie (black upper middle class) had abdicated and betrayed their role as a leadership class for black people.  Was Du Bois naïve in placing all of these hopes of leadership on the Talented Tenth or is Frazier being unjustly critical and pessimistic in his portrayal of the Black Bourgeoisie?

Chapter  18:  BLACK PROTEST, THE GREAT DEPRESSION AND THE NEW DEAL 1929-1940,  pp. 478-507.

Chapter 19: MEANINGS OF FREEDOM: CULTURE AN SOCIETY IN THE 1930s, 1940s, AND 1950s, 1930-1950


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