1. The thesis for the Souls of BlackFolk is to show the reader the way life was in an era of incredible change forboth African Americans and White Americans. Many Americans who were set in theirways, both Southern Whites and African Americans were undergoing change thatone group felt was for the better while the other group felt was for the worse,but neither knew exactly what to do after the change. The former slaves hadjust received the freedom that was long over due but what was next for them?With most having no Formal education or money they did not have any options. Thisis why W.E.
B. Du Bois asked the question “how does it feel to be a problem?”. PostEmancipation, the United States government had to devise a plan to help get thenewly freedmen get started in this new time in America. – This question isbacked up by further incidents that happen during this time that he considersto be why the African American race is viewed as a problem. Such as how the unstableFreedman’s bureau came to form, how to properly appropriate the former slavesafter emancipation since the government had not yet spent a dime onappropriation, how the land of the former slave owners will be divided amongstthe millions of former slaves and what to do once that land ran out. 2. Du Bois makes his position veryclear on race issues during the progressive era.
The combination of the slavesbeing freed and the south being decimated from the civil war, boil over intowhat is a very hard time for African Americans. In the past the only times AfricanAmericans and whites in the south were in contact with he each other, one was aslave and one was a slave owner. Now with the slaves being freed they were incontact with white men in a different light, and that new closeness of theraces also attributed to the uneasy relationship of the races. With over sevenmillion African Americans in the south, it may be possible for the north to lagbehind in civil rights and get away with it but in the south it is impossible. Theideology of Booker T. Washington also didn’t help race issues according to DuBois because in that ideology the African Americans were accepting inferiority whichjust played right into the rival’s hands, making them think it is okay to thinkthat way if African Americans are willing to say it. Where Du Bois feels the biggestissue lies of race in this era is in the education system. Race Issues aredeeply imbedded in this time, especially in education, much more money is putinto white education.
The police system at this time in the south was oftengeared against African Americans because often times it wasn’t just policepolicing an area, there was a double system of authority in which whitesoutherners who were not on the police force acted as if they were and did not receiveany push back from the actual police force. 3. De Bois find himself in a toughspot when describing Booker T. Washington. He starts off by saying how much herespects the work he has done and what he is trying to accomplish but clearlystates the differences in opinion they have. According to Du Bois, Washington wantedthe African Americans to give up pushing for three things for the time being, AfricanAmerican youth education, civil rights, and political power. Du Bois says some peoplefollowed that propaganda for a while but after years and years of no progress, peoplebecame restless. It was impossible for Washington’s idea of accumulating wealthto happen if people aren’t getting educated, aren’t getting their voices heardon public issues and don’t have a voice in the government to represent them.
DuBois was not fond of the Atlanta Compromise either, he felt that if AfricanAmericans were to get what they deserve it would have to be through a struggle,not through waiting around and hoping the antagonist would eventually have achange of heart. With that being said, Du Bois also knew that things wouldn’t changeimmediately, there was going to be a struggle that ensued but he embraced thatstruggle. He felt that time right then was a critical point for all non whitemen and less fortunate men to take a stand for now and future generations. TheAtlanta Compromise was the exact of opposite of that ideology. In Du Bois eyesit would be unpatriotic for African Americans to just lay idle while theirrights are not granted to them.4. Du Bois uses history throughout the whole bookto go back to how things once were and compare them to how things are now.
Interms of Education, he talks about a time when he went to small town while hewas in school to help educate a demographic that normally wouldn’t be affordedthe opportunity. He goes to the school and describes how rundown the buildingis and the supplies are but he still makes it work. Years later he returns tothe same town hoping to see some improvements in that regard but when hearrives he sees the exact opposite. That is a local version of what ishappening all across the south, little to no progress was being made to helpeducate those who did not have access to it. Which resulted in the samefamilies being stuck in the same rut they have been stuck in for generations. Ona large scale it represents the improper education of people, which then leadsto an uneducated voter.
This is really problematic when literacy tests areimposed on potential voters. Du Boisalso mentions how the African American community was in the new world beforethe pilgrims even arrived and that America wouldn’t be what is today with outthe help of the African American population. They have fought in the same warsas the white population but never received any reward for spilling their bloodalongside the whites, for something that didn’t even benefit them. 5. He feels the African Americanteacher and student is lagging far behind the white teacher and student. While DuBois recognizes some educational progress was made during this time, he feltthe issue was not that schools weren’t popping up, but that the schools wereteaching the wrong ideas.
The new schools that were popping up were teachingmore along the lines of ways to become breadwinners and teachers as Du Bois putit. He believed that the schools needed to focus more on culture and expansionof knowledge not only so the students can get an education but also get abetter grasp of culture. The south was very set in its way with its old cultureof racism and the only way to effect real change on that was by educating a newgeneration with a new culture of equality and determination to have equalrights, the right to vote and the right to be represented. The institution ofvoting in the United Sates did not have a good relationship with its citizensafter the Civil war, many people were getting out of politics because of thedistrust they had, which then lead to voters, many of whom were AfricanAmerican to stop paying any mind to the voting process because they felt it wasso flawed it didn’t matter if they voted or not. 6.
Du Bois understands that Americawas set in its ways for a long time and understands there will be a struggleensuing to create a nation he can be proud of to hand on to the next generation.He says that the new generation of white southerners should not be hated forwhat past generations have done. He feels the South will never be solid if therace relations continue to be a problem in voting, education, and civil rights.
If the education system is still flawed then there will be no chance forequality in America, education must be drilled home to the African Americanyouth, not just knowledge to become the supplier of the house hold butknowledge enough to think about deep rooted issues and how they can be solved.The education of the normally uneducated will then lead to better chances atthe polls in two forms, one being selecting the proper candidate and the secondbeing not being held down by an unjust literacy test. Once that step is taken,then the next domino to fall would be accumulation of other civil rightsthrough voting and representation. The representation comes from reinvesting theAfrican American population in the political system of the United States, inwhich many have choosen to distance themselves from because of injustice.
But heknows that it is impossible to effect change without the power of the vote. Oncethose things take place then the county can become closer to being wellbalanced and equal. Du Bois being a man deep rooted in culture will not soonforget the wrong doings of the country years ago but not use that memory asanger but to educate future generations from preventing that from happening. DuBois wants it to be possible for a man to be both American and Negro, for thatto happen, strides must be taken in education and civil rights.