Background information:

- I put this in because it is such an important speech that it is dealt with twice in the textbook.

- It comes from the side of the opponent. Problem with the textbook is that we listen to one side of the opinion and don't get the other side. Most people would not agree with this approach, but we need to know what's going on--that these other people are responding too.

- Booker T. Washington gave this speech on September 18, 1895.

- It is the speech that puts a seal onto what was going on. The Jim Crow Laws were being passed at this time. Blacks and whites must be educated separately, can't intermarry, etc. Black people can only hold certain kinds of jobs. This was a system of laws, rules, and customs that would dominate the South for the next 70 years. We still live with some of the effects today. After the Civil War, Reconstruction gave black people the right to vote, educational programs, and a series of laws and interventions were established. Much like what reoccured in the 1960's. Over time the North lost interest in what was going on in the South.

- This speech really helped because it was a black man talking. Northerners thought that if blacks wanted this than who were they to go down there and insert themselves in the debate.

- Booker T. Washington was a white man's black man. That is, he was always more popular among whites than his own people. Like Clarence Thomas today--a Supreme Court Justice, popular among the Republican Party.

The Speech:

Situation: The Atlanta Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta, GA on

September 18,1895.

- When we were first freed we wanted to get into Congress rather than build a farm, he says. So his focus is going to be economics. They (black people) will give their aspirations to be in Congress.

- These laws eventually drove blacks out of positions of power by making it difficult to register to vote. By not having the right to vote they were separating themselves from economic progress. This is just like the Seneca Falls Declaration.

- Washington goes on in the second and third paragraphs to give a famous illustration--"cast down your buckets where you are".

- Where are you going to find progress? You can't find it in the North, and you aren't going to find it by moving to a different country. Here he was refering to Liberia, a country set aside for backs to move after they were freed. He's saying they don't need to do that we must "cast down our buckets where we are". Develop good relationships with white neighbors.

- "No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem."

He's saying to give up getting a good education. Why would you need to waste time teaching a black man to read and write except at the most rudimentary level. This is support for segregation in education. No need to set up colleges for blacks.

- Next he turns to whites and says cast down your buckets. The black people are your labor pool. In the North they import people from other countries who don't know the language. The have to be taught the language, customs, and how to work in this situation. Down in the South, they had a great labor pool just waiting to work.

- To blacks he says look to the whites, to whites he says look to the blacks.

- In paragraph 8, he talks about beng separate socially but united economically.

Here's the ides of segregation. He is putting a seal of approval on this.

- The illustration of the hand is widely quoted. Basically he's saying we are going to accept a secondary citizenship. We will continue to serve the white race in a different form-- not officially slaves, but still a second class citizen.

- This was much more popular in circles of whites trying to pass the Jim Crow Laws than in circles of blacks trying to oppose them.

- In paragraph 11, he talks about agitators. These were people from the North coming down to agitate. This was one of the biggest complaints of the South. If they didn't have people agitating the situation, we could go on doing things the way they've always been done.

- Gradualism--the idea that we would eventually get along by gradually working their own way up with own efforts. We don't need to be opposed. (Going through the same thing now with Affirmitve Action)