Du Bois Essays

Du Bois Essays-79
in Foner 58), an endorsement for Blacks to fully realize their current situation and pursue success in whatever place they find themselves.

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The introduction explains in detail both Chandler’s editorial approach and the volume’s position within the historiographical landscape.Washington, born a slave, educated, and head of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama offered an opinion differing from many abolitionists (673).In his address, he posits the failure of Reconstruction stemming from Blacks seeking and being given political power when they possessed neither an education nor any political experience to effectively hold office (Washington goes on to communicate a nautical story with the moral being the phrase, “Cast down your bucket where you are” (qtd.Washington then uses his bucket phrase to address the Whites in attendance, encouraging them to live peaceably with their Black neighbors, to give them a chance to become successful while remaining separate, using the analogy that “…we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress…” (59). Washington’s Atlanta Compromise entitled “A Critique of Booker T. Du Bois witnessed the effects of separate but equal conditions included in Washington’s address.Washington ends his speech with a plea for Blacks to focus more on the ability to earn a dollar than the privilege to spend a dollar (60). The “Atlanta Compromise” was a propagation of the idea that life was summed up in working and earning a living, however, Du Bois believes there are “…higher aims of life…” (62) which Blacks should pursue, namely self-respect.However, it is Du Bois’s overall intellectual journey, rather than a specific narrative, that Chandler wishes the reader to glean from this collection.To achieve Chandler’s vision, the essays are presented in a somewhat purist manner – in totality and in chronological order – leaving readers to deduce motifs, rather than these being highlighted by the editor’s own curation.Some citizens felt that Blacks should gradually gain exposure to the privileges of freedom and remain segregated, while others desired an immediate egalitarian participation in all aspects of civic life.These opposing viewpoints reveal the tension and debate over the definition of freedom in post-Reconstruction America. Washington’s address at the Atlanta Cotton Exposition in 1895 sought to find a middle ground for race relations in the South.Chandler’s volume is certainly a valuable collection – however, it is a book that does not fully embrace the wider audience it deserves.The introduction, for example, seems to speak almost exclusively to the editor’s peers, providing a level of detail – in a densely academic style – that might alienate ‘the beginning student’ (20) to whom Chandler reaches out.


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