The years following the period of reconstruction were extremely tumultuous for the members of the African American community. The federal government forsook them and left them in a state that was one of second-class citizenry and, in reality, no better off than when they were slaves. Of those that rose to the challenge of forging a better life for the African Americans, two of the most notable were Booker T. Washington and W.E.B Du Bois. Not surprising, these two prominent men had decidedly different views on how to build a better, fairer life for their brethren. Regardless of how W.E.B. Du Bois viewed Booker T. Washington's efforts, it was those efforts that opened the door, softened the masses if you will, that allowed for the efforts of Du Bois's to be received.
African Americans had few to nothing in the way of human or civil rights. They desired to be considered equal to the white man. They had been promised many things during the reconstruction and had believed that they would be establishing greater independence, civil rights and some economic power. Instead, most existed in squalid living conditions with little to no education and survived by sharecropping or other forms of manual labor because they lacked greater work skills. Some had managed to get some education and work themselves out of lower class living. Growing tired, and desperate for change, advocates were starting to voice their ideas on how to bring about that change. Some voices rising to this purpose touted violence as the best means to achieve this goal. Others suggested that the best thing to do was to go back to Africa, Du Bois himself even pressed migrating back there. Booker T. Washington came along well before W.E.B. Du Bois and, while both men had the best intentions for the members of their community, they were working from to entirely different perspectives. This, in my opinion, is what led to the major differences of their opinions.