The history of African Americans fighting for their rights is very long. There were different ideas on how to get freedom and many people tried to become the leaders in the struggle for democracy. However, only few of the philosophies have survived to our days. This paper compares three philosophies as for African American freedom movement to shed the light on why some ideas live longer than others.
Martin Luther King’s Philosophy
Martin Luther King’s philosophy is regarded on the example of his ‘I Have a Dream Speech’. From the words the activist says it is clear that he is one of the people who fight for the rights of African Americans. Martin Luther King’s philosophy consists in the following:
- African Americans should be granted the rights provided by the Declaration of the Independence, since they are people as well as the white population of the United States.
- The struggle for justice should not be cruel and brutal. The fight for democracy should be held in a democratic way: “Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred” (Martin Luther King).
- The main purpose of the struggle should not be opposing and revenging white people, but uniting with them. Only in this case everyone can be happy (Martin Luther King).
Booker T. Washington Philosophy
Booker T. Washington was the son of a white man who did not recognize him and of an African American woman. He was famous for his ideas according to which African Americans had to accommodate to racial inequality. The activist’s main ideas were the following:
- There could be no equality gained between African Americans and whites. They should have been separated but united by the same purpose: social uplift for the mutual progress.
- He believed that the situation of African Americans could only improve if they got education.
- The education for African Americans could only include vocational curriculum, such as farming, carpentry, sewing etc.
- African Americans should not take any radical actions to improve their situation (People & Events: Booker T. Washington, 1856-1915).
It is worth mentioning, however, that Booker T. Washington longed for white people to recognize his leadership. The philosophy of this activist is very different from the one previously considered, since it does not even mention any rights for the African Americans. Unlike the ideas of Martin Luther King, these ones do not encourage people to fight for equality, but rather state that African Americans should know their place and improve their skills for the well-being of society. Apart from that, Martin Luther King emphasizes that people of all nations and religions should unite, whereas Booker T. Washington wants African Americans and Whites to stay separate. The only thing common in these two philosophies is that no brutal actions should be taken to change everything.
W.E.B. Du Bois Philosophy
The future Dubois dreamed of was opposite to the ideas by Booker T. Washington:
- African Americans should have had the same rights as the white people.
- The freedom should have been granted to them immediately.
- The radical actions should have been taken to set African Americans free.
- African Americans should have got good education (W. E. B. Dubois).
The ideas by Dubois were the most radical ones out of the three activists. Unlike Washington, he maintained that African Americans should be equal with the whites. The thing that differs his ideas from those by Martin Luther King were that violence could be applied. The latter of the activists supported peaceful methods only.
The ideas by Dubois were too radical, whereas Booker T. Washington’s ones were nonprogressive in comparison to Martin Luther King’s philosophy. African Americans are people as well and they deserve to be free instead of serving the white population. But it is important to remember that democracy can only be achieved when peaceful methods are applied.
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