The Souls of Black Folk | Study Guide

W.E.B. Du Bois

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The Souls of Black Folk | Character Analysis


Booker T. Washington

Booker T. Washington worked his way through school to become a teacher, founding the Tuskegee Normal Institute (now Tuskegee University), which first focused on training African Americans in agriculture. Washington detailed his philosophy on education and race relations in an 1895 speech that came to be known as the "Atlanta Compromise," which urged black people to accept segregation and exclusion from the political arena in exchange for the promise of education, protection, and economic progress. Washington's position was anathema to W.E.B. Du Bois, who addresses it directly in the third chapter of The Souls of Black Folk.

Alexander Crummell

Alexander Crummell is the subject of the 12th chapter of The Souls of Black Folk. In his brief biographical sketch, Du Bois presents Crummell as a modern-day prophet who bore the challenges of discrimination and oppression with grace and character. Despite being denied admission to seminary, he studied privately and became an Episcopalian minister at age 25. Crummell's further studies and teaching took him to England and Liberia; he eventually returned to the United States to settle in Washington, DC, where he taught at Howard University, among other institutions. He devoted his life to fighting segregation in the church and promoting education for African Americans.

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