Accommodation and its Opponents 1880-1920

Material and sites exploring the debate among race leaders such as Washington, Du Bois and Wells over the social, economic and political status of African Americans.

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T. Thomas Fortune, "Political Independence of the Negro" (1884)
T. Thomas Fortune, "Political Independence of the Negro" (1884)
In the years after Reconstruction, and prior to the rise of Booker T. Washington, a number of black writers, journalists, politicians and intellectuals sought to map out a path to full citizenship for black Americans. Here, journalist/activist T. Thomas Fortune sets out a case for full citizenship.
T. Thomas Fortune, “It Is Time To Call A Halt" (1890)
T. Thomas Fortune, “It Is Time To Call A Halt" (1890)
In 1890, the first meeting of the National Afro-American League was held in Chicago. The first national civil rights organisation was founded by T. Thomas Fortune. It lasted 4 years until it collapsed, only to be reorganised in 1897 for another short period. Here Fortune sets out the problems facing black America and the response planned by the League.
Booker T. Washington, "Atlanta Compromise" Speech (Sept. 18th 1895)
Booker T. Washington, "Atlanta Compromise" Speech (Sept. 18th 1895)
Edited highlights of the key speech by Washington which cemented his status and provided a succinct analysis of how African Americans should respond to the challenges of freedom and Jim Crow.
Booker T. Washington, Up from Slavery: An Autobiography
Booker T. Washington, Up from Slavery: An Autobiography
Washington used his own life as reflection, template and metaphor for others in his struggle to advance the black South. The full text is here.
Chronicling America - Booker T. Washington
Chronicling America - Booker T. Washington
Twelve scanned articles - free to access as an incentive to explore the pay database - chart the white & black press' view of Washington's views and actions across the decades when he rose to prominence.
Ida B. Wells, “Lynch Law in America” (1900)
Ida B. Wells, “Lynch Law in America” (1900)
Ida B. Wells was a tenacious journalist and civil rights activist. She spent much of her adult life investigating and documenting lynching in the United States. This was not without risk, in 1895 her Memphis newspaper offices were destroyed by a mob angry at her investigations. Here again, she sets out the causes and possible solutions to lynching.
W.E.B. Du Bois, "Of Mr Booker T. Washington & Others" (1903)
W.E.B. Du Bois, "Of Mr Booker T. Washington & Others" (1903)
Initially a supporter of Washington, by 1903, W.E.B. Du Bois was at the forefront of the small but vocal band of African-American critics who opposed him. This extract from Du Bois' Souls of Black Folk set out the case against Washington and provided a basis for the organisations that Du Bois helped to organise - the shortlived Niagara Movement and the NAACP. A key text.
W.E.B. Du Bois, Primary Sources
W.E.B. Du Bois, Primary Sources
A useful selection of short(ish) sources tracing the development of Du Bois's ideas from the 1890s to the 1920s. Contains extracts from the Souls of Black Folk, letters and editorials from the Crisis, the NAACP's monthly journal that Du Bois edited for over 20 years. How does Du Bois's analysis and agenda develop?
The NAACP: A Century in the Fight for Freedom
The NAACP: A Century in the Fight for Freedom
A Library of Congress set of resources for teachers. Includes key early texts including 'the call' the address which led to the founding conference of the NAACP in 1909.
The Booker T. Washington Era
The Booker T. Washington Era
2-page chapter of the LoC African-American Odyseey site with scans of key primary source and photos. Contains the original 'Call' which led to the establishment of the NAACP.
The Crisis - Monthly magazine of the NAACP 1912-22 (downloadable)
The Crisis - Monthly magazine of the NAACP 1912-22 (downloadable)
While google has also digitised this NAACP journal, this site allows you to download each edition of the periodical over its first ten years in pdf format.
Emmett J. Scott, The American Negro in the World War (1919)
Emmett J. Scott, The American Negro in the World War (1919)
Emmett J. Scott, was a former aide of Booker T. Washington who served as a special assistant to Secretary of War from 1917 onward. As such, that insider knowledge makes this account of the black military experience in 1917-18 useful, but it also provides insight into the aspirations of a member of the black elite who saw African-American service in the military as the ultimate form of patriotic loyalty and belonging.
W.E.B. Du Bois, Crisis editorials on the First World War (1918/19)
W.E.B. Du Bois, Crisis editorials on the First World War (1918/19)
These two editorials appeared in the Crisis. They provide an insight into how W.E.B. Du Bois envisaged the leverage that could be gained from using the conflict to promote racial justice. "Close Ranks" was issued as the US entered the war, "Returning Soldiers" at the war' send. What is the message contained in both? How does it compare to the "Double Victory" camapaign launched by the Pittsburgh Courier (a black weekly newspaper) during World War Two?