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Debating Strategies for Change: Booker T. Washington vs. W.E.B. Du Bois

65 min
  • Students will examine differing accounts on the best method for African Americans to achieve equality and integration into American society by reading and summarizing the arguments of Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois
  • Students will practice civil discourse by following the Structured Academic Controversy model of debate.

Students can complete the readings for this activity in class or for homework. Note that the two documents are a decade apart. Evaluate the strength of each argument using these questions:

  • Would Washington’s model of accommodation inevitably lead to political and social reform?
  • Why did Du Bois demand legal and political equality, and how could he achieve such demands?

Ask students to consider the following question as a think-pair-share or large group discussion to contextualize the issues they will read about in the sources: Did Reconstruction result in progress for African Americans? Why or why not?

Individually, students will read the two sources, identify the central arguments, and note the major points of each author in their graphic organizer.

Students will engage in a Structured Academic Controversy Activity to argue both sides of the central question.

Student will share their consensus statements in engage in a class debrief. Are the arguments of Washington and Du Bois still valid today? Why or why not?