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
Publication Date: May 23, 2016
List Price: $96.00
Format: Hardcover, 576 pages
Imprint: Praeger Publishers
Publisher: Greenwood Publishing Group
Parent Company: ABC-CLIO, LLC
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.