A Lesson in History – Booker T versus Du Bois

Go Lean Commentary

2008 was a big year …

… in the history of mankind, the United States of America and the lessons learned for application in the Caribbean. This has been a familiar theme for the publishers of the book Go Lean…Caribbean; this theme has been exhausted in the book (Page 136) and in countless blog/commentaries (see list below). 2008 was only 6 years ago; that is considered recent; how inspiring could the lessons be with just a 6-year look-back? In answering, there is the need to go back even further, not to 2008, but back to the America of 1908, even more exacting to 1901; (the year Booker T. Washington was invited to the White House).

This was the strong point made by one of the key players in American history for 2008: John McCain, the Republican Nominee for US President against the eventual winner Barack Obama. In his concession speech on November 4, 2008, he painted a (word) picture of a landscape of America transcending over the past 100 years.

See the VIDEO here, now:

Video: John McCain 2008 Concession Speech

A comment on this VIDEO in February 2014 truly capsulated the significance of this speech:

“One the most gracious and powerful speeches ever made. It deserves to go into the pantheon of great orations made by the likes of Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, Jawaharlal Nehru and others” – Ravi Rajagopalan.

CU Blog - A Lesson in History - Booker T versus DuBois - Photo CombinedThe transcript from this video gives us the platform for the deep appreciation for our lesson in history: Booker T. Washington versus W.E.B. Du Bois. (See Appendix below).

Both men were very important in the history of civil rights for African-Americans. They both wanted the same elevation of their community in American society, but they both had different strategies, tactics and implementations.

Washington’s biggest legacy is the Tuskegee University (Tuskegee Institute in his day). Du Bois’s legacy stems from his co-founding the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People).

The conclusion from the above VIDEO, as stated by John McCain is that the journey for full citizenship for African-Americans took 100 years from the time of the Washington / Du Bois chasm. No matter the detailed approach, 100 years is still 100 years.

From the point of view of the Caribbean and the publishers of Go Lean…Caribbean, we side with both civil rights leaders in aspirations, but lean towards Booker T. Washington in strategies. Underlying to Mr. Washington’s advocacy, was for the Black Man to remain in the South, find a way to reconcile with his White neighbors and to prosper where he was planted.

The Caribbean has the same conundrum! Rather than fleeing our southern homes for northern opportunities, we advocate reconciling our conflicts, and managing the crises in our region so as to work out an effective future for all Caribbean people today, and tomorrow for our youth. (We also advocate a reconciliation of the past).

The book Go Lean…Caribbean serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU); an initiative to bring change, empowerment, to the Caribbean region; to make the region a better place to live, work and play. This Go Lean roadmap also has these 3 prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion & create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines.

The book describes the CU as a technocratic administration with 144 different missions to elevate the Caribbean homeland. The underlying goal is stated early in the book with this pronouncement in the opening Declaration of Interdependence (Page 12):

xii. Whereas the legacy in recent times in individual states may be that of ineffectual governance with no redress to higher authority, the accedence of this Federation will ensure accountability and escalation of the human and civil rights of the people for good governance, justice assurances, due process and the rule of law…

Change has come to the Caribbean. But as depicted in the foregoing VIDEO, we will not have to wait 100 years, we will effectuate this change now. The Go Lean book declares that for permanent change to take place, there must first be an adoption of new community ethos, the national spirit that drives the character and identity of its people. This is what was missing in 1908 Black America. This point of community ethos is therefore our biggest lesson in the consideration of this history.

The Go Lean roadmap was constructed with these additional community ethos in mind, plus the execution of strategies, tactics, implementation and advocacies to forge the identified permanent change in the region. The following is a sample of these specific details from the book:

Community Ethos – Deferred Gratification Page 21
Community Ethos – Economic Principles – People Choose Page 21
Community Ethos – Economic Principles – All Choices Involve Costs Page 21
Community Ethos – Economic Principles – People Respond to Incentives in Predictable Ways Page 21
Community Ethos – Economic Principles – Economic Systems Influence Individual Choices Page 21
Community Ethos – Economic Principles – The Consequences of Choices Lie in the Future Page 21
Community Ethos – Security Principles – Anti-Bullying and Mitigation Page 23
Community Ethos – Governing Principles – Minority Equalization Page 24
Community Ethos – Governing Principles – Lean Operations Page 24
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Future Page 26
Community Ethos – Ways to Foster Genius Page 27
Community Ethos – Ways to Help Entrepreneurship Page 28
Community Ethos – Ways to Promote Intellectual Property Page 29
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact Research & Development Page 30
Community Ethos – Ways to Manage Reconciliations Page 34
Community Ethos – Ways to Improve Sharing Page 35
Community Ethos – Ways to Promote Happiness Page 36
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Anecdote – LCD versus an Entrepreneurial Ethos Page 39
Strategy – Vision – Confederation   of the 30 Caribbean Member-States into a Single Market Page 45
Strategy – Mission – Celebrate the Music, Sports, Art, People and Culture of the Caribbean Page 46
Tactical – Confederating a Permanent Union Page 63
Tactical – Fostering a Technocracy Page 64
Tactical – Separation of Powers: Federal Administration versus Member-States Governance Page 71
Implementation – Ways to Pay for Change Page 101
Implementation – Ways to Deliver Page 109
Planning – 10 Big Ideas for the Caribbean Region Page 127
Planning – Ways to Make the Caribbean Better Page 131
Planning – Ways to Better Manage Image Page 133
Planning – Lessons Learned from 2008 Page 136
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Create Jobs Page 152
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Education Page 159
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Governance in the Caribbean Region Page 168
Advocacy – Ways to Better Manage the Social Contract Page 170
Advocacy – Ways to Mitigate Terrorism Page 181
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Communications Page 186
Advocacy – Ways Impact the Diaspora Page 217
Advocacy – Ways to Preserve Caribbean Heritage Page 218
Advocacy – Ways to Improve the Arts Page 230
Advocacy – Ways to Promote Music Page 231

There are other lessons for the Caribbean to learn from this consideration. The “clash and conflict” of the Booker T. Washington camp versus the W.E.B. Du Bois camp caused enmity in Black America since 1908 and continues even today. While some modern labeling may be “Old-School versus Nu School”, “Hip-Hop versus Bourgeois” , “Black Nationalists versus Accommodationists”, even “Thugs versus ‘Acting White'”, the underlying conflict is a  “deep divide”, a consistent reflection of two different approaches competing for dominance in the Black community.

Whereas life imitates art and art imitates life, this conflict was artfully depicted in the 1984 film A Soldier Story, directed by Norman Jewison, based upon playwright Charles Fuller’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Off-Broadway production A Soldier’s Play (1981). The movie was nominated for three Academy Awards (Best Picture, Supporting Actor – Adolph Caesar, and Best Screenplay Adaptation – Charles Fuller). See the VIDEO excerpt here:

A Solider’s Story: “The Day Of The Geechie Is Gone”

A previous Go Lean blog/commentary identified this same conflict as Egalitarianism versus Anarchism.

Other blog/commentaries stressed related issues, such as learning from 2008 and the history of America’s 20th Century race relations. The following sample applies:

http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=2222 Sports Role Model – Playing For Pride … And More
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=1918 Philadelphia Freedom – Some Restrictions Apply
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=1596 Book Review: ‘Prosper Where You Are Planted’
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=1531 A Lesson in History: 100 Years Ago Today – World War I
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=1037 Humanities & Civil Rights Advocate Maya Angelou – R.I.P.
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=789 America’s War on the Caribbean
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=782 Open the Time Capsule: The Great Recession of 2008
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=378 Fed Releases Transcripts from 2008 Meetings
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=341 Hypocritical US slams Caribbean human rights practices

Are the issues in this commentary strictly a historic reference? Unfortunately not! The opening VIDEO saw a conciliatory John McCain congratulating the newly elected President Barack Obama. The audience continued to “boo” time and again. This response was indicative of an continuing uneasiness in America’s race relations. This point is effectively made by another commentator, (YouTube Screen Name “eddude08”, posted January 2014) to the above John McCain YouTube VIDEO:

The crowd at John McCain’s concession speech said it all. While the noble Arizona Senator was committed to ending his campaign with grace and dignity, few knew at the time that [his Vice-Presidential Nominee] Sarah Palin had the audacity to prepare her own concession speech that night. Every time the Senator from Arizona would mention the newly elected Black President, the crowd erupted with boos. While mass media portrayed a nation wrapped in joy and celebration, anger and fear was well felt in the Heartland. John McCain, one of the greatest Senators of a generation, would be the sole man responsible for bringing a radical and unstoppable element into American politics. Sarah Palin’s nomination set the stage for political domination by a minority that had long been shunned by the mainstream.

Within Obama’s first year of presidency, the number of anti-government militias quadrupled. Within his first term, the nation witnessed the greatest number of legislative filibusters by any congress in the history of the country. 5 years into his presidency, he presided over the most ineffective Congress in American history. even with the deaths of 20 children in a mass shooting [in Newtown, Connecticut], conspiracy theories flourished and the people became distorted, millions of armed citizens convinced their weapons were needed for an inevitable clash with their government. A grassroots movement called the Tea Party became hijacked, fused with an established political party, what was a movement to stop the emerging fascism in the United States became the main force of recruitment for it. The nations budget and credit standing became fair game to advance political ideologies. America’s politics so radicalized a woman named Christine O’Donnell became a Senate nominee [in Delaware in 2010]. Even victims of hurricanes, even [in] the great states of New York and New Jersey could not be spared in the new age of American politics. Glenn Beck [(Political Commentator on cable channel FOX News)] became a national figure, and corporations were declared citizens.

A truly new America was emerging, and nothing would be able to stop what had become inevitable.

Is it the same America of 1908? Perhaps! The point from a Caribbean perspective is “the more things change, the more they remain the same”. We have problems in the Caribbean to contend with, many of which we are failing miserably. But our biggest crisis stems from the fact that so many of our citizens have fled their Caribbean homelands for foreign (including American) shores.

The purpose of this commentary is not to fix America, it is to fix the Caribbean. But the push-and-pull factors are too strong coming from the US. We must lower the glimmering light, the “pull factors”, that so many Caribbean residents perceive of the “Welcome” sign hanging at American ports-of-entry. A consideration of this commentary helps us to understand the DNA of American society: un-reconciled race relations in which Black-and-Brown are still not respected.

The logical conclusion: stay home in the Caribbean and work toward improving the homeland. The US should not be the panacea of Caribbean hopes and dreams.

Booker T. Washington advocated this strategy: prosper where you’re planted.

After 100 years, and despite an African-American President, we must say to Mr. Booker T. Washington: We concur!

Download the book Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


Appendix – Black America in 1908 – The Way Forward

Conditions were not good for the 4 million Black population in the Southern US after the Civil War. The blatant racism brought oppression, suppression and repression. Mob violence and injustice, even lynchings, became commonplace upon this American population. As lynchings in the South reached a peak in 1895, Booker T. Washington gave a speech in Atlanta that made him nationally famous. The speech called for black progress through education and entrepreneurship. His message was that it was not the time to challenge Jim Crow segregation and the disfranchisement of black voters in the South. Washington mobilized a nationwide coalition of middle-class blacks, church leaders, and white philanthropists and politicians, with a long-term goal of building the community’s economic strength and pride by a focus on self-help and schooling.

Washington’s 1895 Atlanta Exposition address was viewed as a “revolutionary moment”[17] by both African Americans and Whites across the country. At the time W. E. B. Du Bois supported him, but they grew apart as Du Bois sought more action to remedy disfranchisement and improve educational opportunities for Blacks. After their falling out, Du Bois and his supporters referred to Washington’s speech as the “Atlanta Compromise” to express their criticism that Mr. Washington was too accommodating to white interests.

Washington advocated a “go slow” approach to avoid a harsh white backlash.[17] The effect was that many youths in the South had to accept sacrifices of potential political power, civil rights and higher education.[18] His belief was that African Americans should “concentrate all their energies on industrial education, and accumulation of wealth, and the conciliation of the South.”[19] Washington valued the “industrial” education, as it provided critical skills for the jobs then available to the majority of African Americans at the time, as most lived in the South, which was overwhelmingly rural and agricultural. He thought these skills would lay the foundation for the creation of stability that the African-American community required in order to move forward. He believed that in the long term, “blacks would eventually gain full participation in society by showing themselves to be responsible, reliable American citizens.” His approach advocated for an initial step toward equal rights, rather than full equality under the law, gaining economic power to back up black demands for political equality in the future.[20] he believed that such achievements would prove to the deeply prejudiced white America that African Americans were not “‘naturally’ stupid and incompetent.”[21]

Well-educated blacks in the North, [of which Du Bois was most iconic], advocated a different approach, in part due to the differences they perceived in opportunities. Du Bois wanted blacks to have the same “classical” liberal arts education as upscale whites did, along with voting rights and civic equality, the latter two elements granted since 1870 by constitutional amendments after the Civil War. He believed that an elite, which he called the Talented Tenth, would advance to lead the race to a wider variety of occupations.[22] Du Bois and Washington were divided in part by differences in treatment of African Americans in the North versus the South; although both groups suffered discrimination, the mass of blacks in the South were far more constrained by legal segregation and exclusion from the political process. Many in the North rejected to being ‘led’, and authoritatively spoken for, by a Southern accommodationist strategy which they considered to have been “imposed on them [Southern blacks] primarily by Southern whites.”[23] Historian Clarence E. Walker wrote that, for white Southerners:

“Free black people were ‘matter out of place’. Their emancipation was an affront to southern white freedom. Booker T. Washington did not understand that his program was perceived as subversive of a natural order in which black people were to remain forever subordinate or unfree.”[24]

Both Washington and Du Bois sought to define the best means to improve the conditions of the post-Civil War African-American community through education.

Blacks were solidly Republican in this period, having gained emancipation and suffrage with the President Lincoln and his party. Southern states disfranchised most blacks and many poor whites from 1890–1908 through constitutional amendments and statutes that created barriers to voter registration and voting, such as poll taxes and literacy tests. By the late nineteenth century, Southern white Democrats defeated some biracial Populist-Republican coalitions and regained power in the state legislatures of the former Confederacy; they passed laws establishing racial segregation and Jim Crow. In the border states and North, blacks continued to exercise the vote; the well-established Maryland African-American community defeated attempts there to disfranchise them.

CU Blog - A Lesson in History - Booker T versus DuBois - Photo 3Washington worked and socialized with many national white politicians and industry leaders. He developed the ability to persuade wealthy whites, many of them self-made men, to donate money to black causes by appealing to values they had exercised in their rise to power. He argued that the surest way for blacks to gain equal social rights was to demonstrate “industry, thrift, intelligence and property.”[25] He believed these were key to improved conditions for African Americans in the United States. Because African Americans had only recently been emancipated and most lived in a hostile environment, Washington believed they could not expect too much at once. He said, “I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has had to overcome while trying to succeed.”[15]

Along with Du Bois, Washington partly organized the “Negro exhibition” at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris, where photos of Hampton Institute’s black students were displayed. These were taken by his friend Frances Benjamin Johnston.[26] The exhibition demonstrated African Americans’ positive contributions to United States’ society.[26]

Washington privately contributed substantial funds for legal challenges to segregation and disfranchisement, such as the case of Giles v. Harris, which was heard before the United States Supreme Court in 1903.[27] Even when such challenges were won at the Supreme Court, southern states quickly responded with new laws to accomplish the same ends, for instance, adding “grandfather clauses” that covered whites and not blacks.
Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia – Retrieved 09/09-2014 from:

Cited References:

15. Harlan, Louis R (1972), Booker T. Washington: volume 1: The Making of a Black Leader, 1856–1901 , the major scholarly biography
17.   Bauerlein, Mark (Winter 2004), The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education 46, JSTOR, p. 106.
18.   Pole, JR (Dec 1974), “Review: Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others; The Children of Pride”, The Historical Journal 17 (4) , p. 888.
19.   Du Bois, WEB (1903), The Souls of Black Folk, Bartleby ., pp. 41–59.
20.   Pole, JR (Dec 1974), “Review: Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others; The Children of Pride”, The Historical Journal 17 (4) , p. 107.
21.   Crouch, Stanley (2005).  The Artificial White Man: Essays on Authenticity, Basic Books, p. 96.
22.   Du Bois, WEB (1903), The Souls of Black Folk, Bartleby ., p. 189.
23.   Pole, JR (Dec 1974), “Review: Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others; The Children of Pride”, The Historical Journal 17 (4) , p. 980.
24.   Walker, Clarence E (1991), Deromanticising Black History, The University of Tennessee Press, p. 32 .
25.   Harlan, Louis R (1972), Booker T. Washington: volume 1: The Making of a Black Leader, 1856–1901 , the major scholarly biography, p. 68.
26.   Maxell, Anne (2002), “Montrer l’Autre: Franz Boas et les sœurs Gerhard”, in Bancel, Nicolas; Blanchard, Pascal; Boëtsch, Gilles; Deroo, Eric; Lemaire, Sandrine, Zoos humains. De la Vénus hottentote aux reality shows, La Découverte, pp. 331–39, in part. p. 338
27.   Harlan, Louis R (1971), “The Secret Life of Booker T. Washington”, Journal of Southern History 37 (2). Documents Booker T. Washington’s secret financing and directing of litigation against segregation and disfranchisement.


Share this post:
, , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *