The Distinctly Different Viewpoints of.
The life of an African-American in the late 1800s and early 1900s was one of poverty without education or equality. After the Civil War ended, the South was war-torn and impoverished and under Reconstruction. Almost all whites in that region held prejudice and racist views towards blacks and did not want them as equals in society. Legally, blacks were "equal citizens,"" but socially they were far from it. It is a reach to even call African-Americans during the Reconstruction era citizens. They were primarily treated as second-class beings who happened to live on the same land and breath the same air as their white counterparts. Many blacks were fighting to simply stay alive, not to get civil rights and equality. For many, simply ridding themselves of slavery was enough, but others wanted more. Two of these forward-looking men were Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois. These two dissimilar men held extremely distinct and different viewpoints in regard to how to enhance the black economy, gain black equality, and rid themselves of their dependence on whites. Washington believed in teaching blacks useful trades so that they could gain self-respect and economic security.1 He avoided the issue of social equality and instead focused on developing the economic and educational resources of the black community. Washington often ignored discrimination and believed that it was important for blacks to develop good relationships with whites, rather than annoy them with persistent chatter about equality. He was afraid that blacks who constantly demanded civil rights would create ill will between themselves and white Americans.2 In his 1895 Atlanta Compromise Speech, he soothed his mostly white listeners' concerns about "uppity- blacks by "claiming that his race would content itself with living by the productions of our hands.- 3 Du Bois vehemently disagreed with Washington because he demanded complete and immediate equality for blacks, socially and well as economically.