Booker T Washington Essay

1028 Words 5 Pages
For every exalted leader it is often said, "he was not without flaws." Perhaps when referring to Booker T Washington, it would be more accurate to say, "he was not without virtues." Through his autobiography, we see a man raise himself Up From Slavery to succeed in a white man's world. At first glance, it's easy to assume Booker T Washington was an adequate, if not impressive leader for the black race. Yet upon a closer examination, it is easy to find his thinly veiled motives - completely selfish in nature. His ambitions, and the ambition of the black race in the late 19th century, do not fully coincide. An assessment of Washington's leadership skills shows him to be a surprisingly adept bureaucrat, although a divergent force as a …show more content…
He was in no doubt as to the fact that America was controlled entirely by the white majority. He thus urged his black brethren to be "fast in learning the lesson that he cannot afford to act in a manner that will alienate his Southern white neighbors from him" (75). Washington knew that in order to lift the race from its plight, they needed the help of white people. White men were entrenched in industry, banking, farming, merchandising - virtually every aspect of American business life. To gain support, he worked diligently to win white people over to the idea that the improvement of blacks would also improve their own standing (111). Again, we see Washington's leadership skills at their pinnacle. By forcing the idea that blacks must work to integrate into white America, he began to pave the way for the advancement of the race. For as much good as Booker T Washington did, he, at the same time, did a great deal of harm. Despite painting himself as an august man, consumed with the betterment of his race, Washington had ulterior motives. It would appear that what he wanted more than anything else was to be seen, in all aspects, as white. The accusations of being an "Uncle Tom" are justified. What places Washington in this idiom is his utter denial of any white indiscretions against the black populace before and after the Civil War. He makes the outrageous claim that "the black man got nearly as much out of slavery as the white man did" (37). He

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