The Battle for the Souls of Black Folk: W.E.B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, and the Debate That Shaped the Course of Civil Rights

The Battle for the Souls of Black Folk: W.E.B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, and the Debate That Shaped the Course of Civil Rights

by Thomas Aiello

Hardcover(New Edition)

View All Available Formats & Editions
Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details


In the 20 years between 1895 and 1915, two key leaders—Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois—shaped the struggle for African American rights. This book examines the impact of their fierce debate on America's response to Jim Crow and positions on civil rights throughout the 20th century—and evaluates the legacies of these two individuals even today.

The debate between W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington on how to further social and economic progress for African Americans lasted 20 years, from 1895 to Washington's death in 1915. Their ongoing conversation evolved over time, becoming fiercer and more personal as the years progressed. But despite its complexities and steadily accumulating bitterness, it was still, at its heart, a conversation—an impassioned contest at the turn of the century to capture the souls of black folk.

This book focuses on the conversation between Washington and Du Bois in order to fully examine its contours. It serves as both a document reader and an authored text that enables readers to perceive how the back and forth between these two individuals produced a cacophony of ideas that made it anything but a bipolar debate, even though their expressed differences would ultimately shape the two dominant strains of activist strategy. The numerous chapters on specific topics and historical events follow a preface that presents an overview of both the conflict and its historiographical treatment; evaluates the legacies of both Washington and Du Bois, emphasizing the trajectories of their theories beyond 1915; and provides an explanation of the unique structure of the work.

  • Offers a fresh exploration of the fascinating conversations and controversies between two of the most important African American leaders in history
  • Provides an in-depth exploration of these two important leaders' perspectives and views on America's response to Jim Crow and civil rights that leads to significant new conclusions about historical information
  • Presents the words of DuBois, Washington, and their allies as a conversation that enables readers to better understand the big-picture story of these two scholars

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781440843570
Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
Publication date: 05/23/2016
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 576
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Thomas Aiello is associate professor of history and African American studies at Valdosta State University.

Table of Contents

Preface xi

Introduction xv

1 Before the Cotton States 1

2 The Death of Frederick Douglass 33

3 The Job Hunt 55

4 The First Fissure 73

5 The Washington School District 93

6 The National Negro Business League 103

7 Up From Slavery 117

8 The First Attempt at a Summit 133

9 The Boston Riot 157

10 The New York Summit 201

11 The Committee of Twelve 231

12 The Machine 259

13 Niagara 293

14 The Spies and the Radicals 341

15 NAACP 373

16 The Milholland and Britain Letters 401

17 Presidential Politics 429

18 Irreconcilable Differences 459

19 The Death of Washington 489

20 Du Bois Shapes the Legacy 509

Bibliography 531

Index 557

Customer Reviews