Uncle Tom or New Negro? Paperback – 10 Jan 2006
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About the Author
REBECCA CARROLL is the author of several books, including "Saving the Race: Conversations on Du Bois from a Collective Memoir of Souls "and the award-winning "Sugar in the Raw: Voices of Young Black Girls in America."
She lives in New York City with her husband, the sociologist Christopher Bonastia, and their son Kofi.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Ms. Carroll did a commendable job of getting together those who are pro Washington and those who have issues with his handling of the race question at the end of the 19th century. The book gives a wonderful overview of the issues surrounding Washington as well as a view of the times when he was successfully attempting to establish his school at Tuskegee. Whether you are for Washington's accomodationist position or against it, it is a book well worth reading for its historical value.
Reviewed by Alice Holman
of The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers
With such a provocative title, I couldn't help but dust off my old copy of Up From Slavery to see if there are any useful insights from the dawn of the twentieth century which would be applicable in the 21st century.
Traditionally, there was always a debate regarding his view of the best route for African-American progress. This debate has contrasted Booker T. Washington's advocacy for self-help and practical education against the aggressive advocacy of W.E.B. Dubois for social and political equality.
It is important to place Mr. Washington's work in perspective in terms of the times in which it was written. The American civil war was over. The conflict was (and is) the costliest war for the United States in terms of lives lost. The process of reconstruction was overwhelming and flawed on many levels. Mr. Washington does a good job at describing the fact that many African Americans rushed into political and academic puruits prematurely in the wake of Slavery.
The combination of poorly prepared and unethical individuals in these fields likely was responsible for a number of problems faced by former slaves. Mr. Washington's theory was that through practical education and trades, that African-Americans would be able to prove themselves as being worthy of citizenship in the United States.
While I do agree with Mr. Washington that there is much be said for individuals who have merit and equip themselves with skills necessary to function in modern day society, it is also apparent that the view of Mr. Washington's ,autobiography, was overly optimistic and ultimately limiting.
As a college student in the 1980s, I firmly aligned myself with the philosophies of W.E.B. Dubois as detailed in The Souls of Black Folk
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was a professor of sociology at Atlanta University who disputed the main principles of Washington's political program, (ie, the idea that voting and civil rights were less important to black progress than acquiring property and achieving economic self-sufficiency). Unlike Washington, who foresaw the steady obliteration of racial prejudice and discrimination, Du Bois prophesied in the opening lines of The Souls of Black Folk: "The problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line."
Ultimately, all of the hard work and merit in the world has not been enough to eliminate race prejudice and discrimination of African-Americans. While the actions of Mr. Washington as outlined in his autobiography are clearly laudable; they are (in retrospect) inadequate in terms of achieving equality and justice for minorities in the United States.
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