In the Post-Reconstruction Era (at the end of the Nineteenth Century and beginning of the Twentieth Century) it could easily be asserted that two black men rose to key leadership roles amongst African Americans: Booker T. Washington (founding president of the Tuskegee Institute) and W.E.B. DuBois (co-founder of the Niagara Movement).
Initially these two men had similar ideas for attaining greater equality for the Black population within the United States. But after Washington gave his "Atlanta Compromise" speech in 1895 their positions grew further and further apart. In fact, ten years later, DuBois would write an essay addressing his concerns with Washington's position.
I used both Washington's speech and DuBois' essay in a recent Civil Rights class I was teaching. The text of both of them make great reading on their own. But in using them in my classes, it occurred to me that they would also make a great introduction to decades of early African American history in the American colonies and into early U.S. history.
This small booklet includes illustrated and annotated versions of both Washington's Atlanta speech and DuBois' essay. It also includes a second speech that Washington gave between those two - this one in Chicago at a post Spanish-American War celebration.
My desire here is to highlight some of the differences and similarities between the writings of both men, and to give a little more detail on some of the people and events they each mention.