Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois and Aaron MacGruder

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EL266

Alright, first off, I really, really, really, wish I would have done this before taking the final. My re-examination of these two important historical figures has made two things apparent: 1. I had a reasonably good grasp on their overall beliefs and philosophies and 2. I had their names reversed.

I'm going to blame this, at least in part on Aaron MacGruder's cartoon, "Boondocks." The cartoon is pretty allegorical in general (the series centers on the "Freeman" family), and one character is a black district attorney married to a white woman, living in a wealthy white suburb, is named Tom Du Bois. The fact that he's named "Tom," obviously alludes to Uncle Tom's Cabin, and the name Du Bois is a likely reference to W.E.B Du Bois. For this reason, I automatically attributed what I consider more subservient attitudes, which Booker T Washington had, to him.

However, I apparently wasn't thinking of certain aspects of either's beliefs, or Aaron MacGruder's brilliance when I reached this assumption. If no one ever pushed beyond Washington's plan of having blacks study to be craftsmen (which at the time was step forward), there certainly wouldn't be any black lawyers. Du Bois ideas called for HIGHER education (though just for some), so that blacks could go on to join the upper-class, and thus change society and public policy from the inside. 

Keeping these points in mind, I get a much better look at MacGruder's character. The name Tom is ironic, because the suggection that by existing in what one might call "the white world," Tom may be considered an "Uncle Tom." (In the series he is occasionally ridiculed for his percieved compliance with white culture, and general "whiteness"). However, as a district attorney, and part of the upper-class, he is a part of the power structure, and in a position to help change society. This is very much in-line with his namesake's philosophy, which I feel Aaron MacGruder endorses in many ways.

One of the recurring themes in "Boondocks," is an attack on the pop-cultural perception that intellectualism and education are in some way a betrayal of black culture (He overtly suggests more than once that BET's primary mission is to destroy black people). Then again, at this stage I don't really think the idea that intellect and education aren't cool is anymore prevelant in black pop-culture than in white pop-culture. Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan, and Britney Spears certainly won't be winning any Nobel prizes anytime soon.       

1 Comments

Eddie Huff said:

Actually, Dr. Washington had it right and Mc Gruder has it partially right.

DuBois was a frustrated individual. He hated the white man who allowed him into his world, yet never considered him his equal and he hated the black man (the talentless 90th) whom he blamed for the white man's attitudes toward him.

People often focus on Washington's emphasis on industrial education and the misinterpreted view that that he thought this all we could do. That so under appreciates his genius. He always envisioned us rising to more, but he said we must first lay a foundation which is based upon learning economics form the bottom up. Tuskegee has bourne him our. Tell me what great institution DuBois founded or what great legacy he left.

While you and others want to judge Dr. Washington for his words how about the words of Fredrick Douglass:

"Without industrial development there can be no wealth; without wealth there can be no leisure; without leisure no opportunity for thoughtful reflection and the cultivation of the higher arts."

I suggest you read The Negro Problem and the first 2 chapters featuring Washington and DuBois views on education. This will give you a better understanding of what their views were. Then you can decide who was right.

Eddie Huff

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