Named for its first meeting place at Niagara Falls, New York, the Niagara Movement formed as an organized response to Booker T. Washington’s policies of accommodation and conciliation. Led by W. E. B. Du Bois, the Niagara Movement aimed to counteract Washington’s influence over the black community and in its manifesto declared its intention to “claim for ourselves every single right that belongs to a freeborn American, political, civil and social.”
Booker T. Washington (1856–1915) was a former slave and an African American leader who founded the Tuskegee Institute, a school for African Americans in Alabama, in 1881. Washington urged African Americans to focus on achieving economic independence rather than civil rights. He believed that African Americans would be better off earning white respect gradually by demonstrating their capabilities than challenging white supremacy and agitating for political and social equality.
Which of the two views presented below, W.E.B. Du Bois’ or Booker T. Washington’s, offered a better strategy to put our nation on a quicker path to equality for African Americans at the turn of the twentieth century?