Historical Points of Education Issue Due to Racism Essay Example


Throughout the many years, African Americans have been discriminated against and segregated from whites in the United States. Owing to the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in the mid-19th century, slavery was abolished, liberating the African Americans. The early 1900s was an era of education reform for African Americans. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, there were many anti-literacy laws in place to restrict people of color from receiving an education. In the early twentieth century, education for African Americans in America drastically transformed due to many aspects and multiple individuals including W.E.B. DuBois, Booker T. Washington, the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court Case, and numerous other court cases and laws leading up to it.

W.E.B. Dubois, one of the founders of the NAACP, was a prominent civil rights activist who fought scientific racism; concerning his views, Dubois had multiple supporters and just as many opponents. In 1895, he “became the first African American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University” (Biography.com Editors). W.E.B. Dubois opposed racial prejudice and engaged in disputes in order to disprove the justification of discrimination. Leading protests in the 1900s, Dubois advocated for the immediate implementation of African American civil rights. Dubois opposed scientific racism: the belief that racism can be supported by scientific evidence. Aided by William Monroe Trotter, Dubois co-founded the Niagara Movement, an organization of African American intellectuals who “called for full political, civil, and social rights for African Americans” (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica).

He was supported in his endeavors by Mary White Ovington, executive secretary and chairman of the NAACP, and John Hope, the first African American president of Atlanta University; one of his famed opponents was Booker T. Washington, who was more of a conservative and believed in accommodation. Dubois also assisted in the founding of the NAACP, abbreviated for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The NAACP was an organization that promoted racial equality through the attainment of educational, political, social, and economic rights (“NAACP History: W.E.B. Dubois”).

At the time, their main mission was to grant civil rights to African Americans through democratic processes and eliminate all barriers concerning racial discrimination (“What is the mission of the NAACP?”). As one of the leaders of the Niagara Movement, W.E.B. Dubois held a substantial impact on education and the general welfare of People of Color in America. In addition, Dubois, one of the co-founders of the  National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), contributed to multiple salient civil rights struggles during the 20th century; he believed that African Americans should protest and demand at once for their civil rights. Personally, I disagree with Dubois’ views; conversely, I embrace Booker T. Washington’s philosophy of social segregation in exchange for educational opportunity because I perceive Dubois’ methods of public protests as impatient and radical actions. His beliefs would merely mend a bridge with brittle wooden supports, while Washington’s belief would enforce the bridge with steel. Following the late 18th-century American colonists’ example, W.E.B. Dubois protested against racial discrimination and social segregation in order to ameliorate the lives of the African American community. 

Booker T. Washington

Booker T. Washington, one of the founders of the Tuskegee Institute, was an African American leader who promoted ideas concerning the improvement of life for people of color. Born into slavery, Washington experienced the unfairness of racial discrimination firsthand (“Booker T. Washington Biography”). Ultimately presenting this philosophy in the Cotton States and International Exposition Speech, Washington believed that African Americans should accept social segregation as long as they were allowed “economic progress, educational opportunities and justice in the courts” (Booker T. Washington Biography). In addition, he founded the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, one of his greatest achievements. Established in 1881, the Tuskegee Institute was an institution of higher learning for African Americans, ("Tuskegee Institute-- Training Leaders”).

It possessed the objective of instructing African Americans in multifarious aspects of contemporary occupations. Washington accomplished one of his long-term goals: training “an army of black educators” (“Hampton Institute and Booker T. Washington”). Booker T. Washington was an accommodationist, not wanting to challenge racial segregation. He would rather allow it to continue until whites eventually considered people of color equal. His opinions gained him many supporters, most of them being affluent white males from the northern United States; however, he also had many opponents.

His most famous opponent was W.E.B. DuBois, a radical who called for racial equality and an immediate end to segregation. (“Booker T. Washington Biography”). Washington believed that people of color should better themselves and allow whites to end segregation. His primary goal when he founded the Tuskegee Institute was to educate African Americans; therefore, they would be able to apply for better jobs and gain a higher socioeconomic position. I disagree with Washington’s views, siding more with W.E.B. DuBois’ argument. African Americans are human beings as well, deserving the same rights as whites. If people of color hadn’t eventually urged whites to recognize racial equality, and instead accepted their positions in society, they may not have gained more rights.

The Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case 

The Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case of 1954 was one of the major contributing factors for the advancement of African American education. Linda Brown was an African American child who was denied entry to the all-white Sumner School near her house in Kansas; therefore, she was forced to cross Topeka to attend the segregated school. (“Brown v. Board of Education”). At the time, the ruling of a previous court case, Plessy v. Ferguson, made segregation in public places legal. The Brown family argued that this was a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, taking the Topeka Board of Education to the Supreme Court. In the case, the principles upheld in Plessy v. Ferguson were voted against, desegregating schools. Segregated schools were public schools separated by race that were created by the state-supported “separate but equal” laws. At first, many African Americans were excited to have a place to get their education, but they soon learned that the schools were not as equal as the laws had claimed they would be.

Whites controlled the state government’s funding, which led to discrimination based on the fact that whites didn’t want people of color to have equal education because they believed that if people of color became educated, they would threaten white supremacy and leadership. The Fourteenth Amendment gives all citizens equal protection of the law, and this was not given fairly to blacks in segregated schools. Often, schools for the whites would get the bulk of the money from the government’s school funding and get assets like new textbooks and give their old, worn out textbooks to the schools for the people of color. Brown v. Board of Education had an immense impact on the education and the civil rights for African Americans because they were denied of their rights stated in the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Although they were similar, “separate but equal” schools were never actually equal to one another. The case of Plessy v. Ferguson ruled that laws requiring segregated facilities do not violate the Constitution. The court’s ruling inspired people of color all around the United States to show that the laws were unconstitutional and unfair. Plessy v. Ferguson was overturned by the court in the ruling of Brown v. Board of Education which also ruled to end racial segregation in public schools. For people of color, this meant that they were now considered equal to their classmates and peers. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led the Civil Rights Movement for people of color from 1954 to 1968, in which likewise put pressure on the political system to end segregation in public facilities (“Brown v. Board of Education: Racial Segregation in Public Schools”). Brown v. Board of Education advanced the movement and gave African Americans hope for their future in America.

Following the Civil War, various laws and court cases were established concerning African American education and rights. Plessy v. Ferguson was a court case that founded the “separate but equal” law; it allowed for African-Americans and whites to have “equal” treatment, this law may have changed some things for African-Americans but not all changes were good ones. Because of this law, African-Americans were able to get an education and have a chance to compete with whites. Though African-Americans were given an education, it was poor in many ways (“Beginnings of Black Education”). Segregated schools for African-Americans had lower standards and fewer resources than white schools. This was due to white people fearing that if African-Americans became too educated, they would challenge the predominantly white supremacist government.

Believing that the separation of public locations was acceptable, most African-Americans did not worry about it because they viewed it as an opportunity to become more educated without facing racial discrimination (“Beginnings of Black Education”). Daily life for African-Americans was more challenging due to the lack of quality education; therefore, they were required to work much harder than whites to gain a higher socioeconomic position. Many people of color chose not to become educated, believing that school was not necessary due to the fact they would never be considered as valuable as whites because of their skin color. The attitude towards people of color in this time period highlights the discrimination that they faced and continue to face even today. Although segregation has since ended, its impact continues to influence modern-day America.

Conclusion

As a result of W.E.B. DuBois, Booker T. Washington, the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court Case, and the multiple other court cases and laws leading to that point, education for African Americans in America transformed to a considerable extent in the early twentieth century. Although they had different methods and beliefs, historical figures, such as W.E.B. Dubois and Booker T. Washington, were leaders in the fight for the civil rights of the African American community. Discriminatory ideologies previously upheld in government decisions (including the Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court case) were ejected from the national government through several implications, such as the renewed federal advocacy of the Fourteenth Amendment and desegregation of schools following Brown v. Board of Education court case. Due to these educational reforms, people of color eventually achieved civil rights.

Works Cited

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"Brown v. Board of Education Issue: Racial Segregation in Public Schools." Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), PBS, www.pbs.org/jefferson/enlight/brown.htm. Accessed 26 Mar. 2019.

"Dr. Booker Taliaferro Washington." Tuskegee University, www.tuskegee.edu/discover-tu/tu-presidents/booker-t-washington. Accessed 30 Mar. 2019.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. "Niagara Movement." Encyclopædia Britannica, 6 Sept. 2016, www.britannica.com/topic/Niagara-Movement. Accessed 31 Mar. 2019.

"Hampton Institute and Booker T. Washington." Virginia Museum of History & Culture, Virginia Historical Society, 10 Aug. 2004, www.vahistorical.org/civilrights/btw.htm. Accessed 26 Mar. 2019.

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Pak, Eudie. "How W.E.B. Du Bois Helped Create the NAACP." Biography.com website, edited by Biography.com Editors, A&E Television Networks, 24 Jan. 2019, www.biography.com/news/web-du-bois-naacp. Accessed 30 Mar. 2019.

Paul, Catherine A. "The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)." VCU Libraries Social Welfare History Project, socialwelfare.library.vcu.edu/eras/national-association-for-the-advancement-of-colored-people-naacp/. Accessed 30 Mar. 2019.

"W.E.B. DuBois (1868-1963): Scholar, Editor, and Founding Member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People." VCU Libraries Social Welfare History Project, socialwelfare.library.vcu.edu/eras/civil-war-reconstruction/w-e-b-dubois/. Accessed 30 Mar. 2019.

"The Segregation Era (1900–1939)." Library of Congress, www.loc.gov/exhibits/civil-rights-act/segregation-era.html. Accessed 30 Mar. 2019.

"Tuskegee Institute-- Training Leaders." Library of Congress, www.loc.gov/exhibits/odyssey/educate/bookert.html. Accessed 30 Mar. 2019.

"W. E. B. Du Bois and the NAACP." Virginia Museum of History & Culture, Virginia Historical Society, 10 Aug. 2004, www.vahistorical.org/civilrights/naacp.htm. Accessed 26 Mar. 2019.

"W.E.B. DuBois Fought 'Scientific' Racism." JSTOR Daily, ITHAKA, daily.jstor.org/w-e-b-dubois-fought-scientific-racism/. Accessed 30 Mar. 2019.

"What is the Mission of the NAACP?" NAACP, www.naacp.org/about-us/. Accessed 31 Mar. 2019.

Williams, Robert W. Welcome. WEBDuBois.org, Robert W. Williams, 5 Feb. 2005, www.webdubois.org/. Accessed 26 Mar. 2019.

 

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