Washington was born in Virginia in 1856. Even though he was born into slavery, he received a teaching degree from a freedman's school in Hampton, Virginia. In 1881 he founded what is now known as Tuskegee University. Booker T. Washington's major focus was to educate African Americans in agriculture and carpentry. Washington believed that once African Americans gained economic status, racism would subside. Washington also believed that African Americans needed to be patient and that they needed to accept the fact that African American people would be subjected to racism. Booker T. Washington was also the first African American man to be invited to the White House by Theodore Roosevelt. Booker T. Washington is attributed to saying, "more and more, we must learn to think not in terms of race or color, or language, or religion, or political boundaries, but in terms of humanity" (Black Americans of Achievement Video Collection 1992).
As Booker T. Washington's notoriety faded, W.E.B. Du Bois arose. W.E.B Du Bois was Booker T. Washington's biggest critic. Du Bois earned his Ph.D. in history from Harvard. He taught at prestigious schools like University of Pennsylvania and Atlanta University. Du Bois' approach was much different than Booker T. Washington. Du Bois' radical approach demanded African Americans protest their rights as Americans. This included educational equality to African Americans and also wanted to ban all racism towards African Americans. Although Booker T. Washington was about patience, W.E.B. DuBois was more of take action kind of leader. W.E.B Du Bois with other African American leaders held a conference in Niagara Falls. From this conference formed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, better known as the NAACP. NAACP's mission statement states that their mission is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights without discrimination based on race.