THE EDUCATION OF BOOKER T. WASHINGTON ~ American Democracy and the Idea of Race Relations

THE EDUCATION OF BOOKER T. WASHINGTON  ~ American Democracy and the Idea of Race Relations

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Book review and technical detail THE EDUCATION OF BOOKER T. WASHINGTON ~ American Democracy and the Idea of Race Relations Michael Rudolph West

Technical detail of THE EDUCATION OF BOOKER T. WASHINGTON ~ American Democracy and the Idea of Race Relations
Title
THE EDUCATION OF BOOKER T. WASHINGTON ~ American Democracy and the Idea of Race Relations
author Michael Rudolph West
ISBN 111231
Language English
Category Current Affairs
Publisher Columbia University Press
Pages 296
Publishing Date 1st January, 1970

Book Reviews:

A close analysis of an iconic amount in American history with appropriate absorption to his angle of chase relations as a key to amusing advance for African-Americans.West (History/College of the Holy Cross) presents not so abundant a adventures of Washington as a history of an idea. In fact, those acquisitive to apprehend a anecdotal about Washington’s activity had best attending elsewhere, for West buries his biographical capacity in abiding paragraphs (some featuring words like “problematizing”) that accepted readers will acquisition added dissuasive than inviting. It is affable to booty a comfortable adventure forth the aisle of a 125-word book in Trollope, but afterward the lengthy, labyrinthine aisle blazed by a beneath accomplished biographer is alone tedious. This is not to assail either the author’s analysis or its results. There is abundant to anticipate about and apprentice in these pages. West reminds us that Washington was not the alone above bondservant who lived out a account aces of Horatio Alger (who, as the columnist credibility out, began publishing his acceptance about the time Washington was born, in 1856). West additionally deals bluntly with Washington’s about biased fastidiousness (a above apprentice recalls Washington’s pauses in grammar acquaint to admonish his accuse about their claimed hygiene) and with his wont to badinage blacks in his speeches afore white audiences. But West’s arch absorption is to assay the origins of Washington’s acceptance in “race relations” and to assay its pernicious consequences. Washington and his followers bootless to see that their focus on “getting along” delayed rather than accelerated the acceding of abounding animal and civilian rights to blacks. De jure and de facto allegory were the result; Jim Crow was the beneficiary. West believes that Washington’s angle persists in abounding abode and concludes that “American capitalism was betrayed by the American people.” The columnist offers absorbing assessments of added commentators on race—especially Gunnar Myrdal and (a surprise) William Dean Howells.Significant account circuitous in aureate and annoying prose.

Booker T. Washington has long held an ambiguous position in the pantheon of black leadership. Lauded by some in his own lifetime as a black George Washington, he was also derided by others as a Benedict Arnold. In The Education of Booker T. Washington, Michael West offers a major reinterpretation of one of the most complex and controversial figures in American history. West reveals the personal and political dimensions of Washington's journey "up from slavery." He explains why Washington's ideas resonated so strongly in the post-Reconstruction era and considers their often negative influence in the continuing struggle for equality in the United States. West's work also establishes a groundwork for understanding the ideological origins of the civil rights movement and discusses Washington's views on the fate of race and nation in light of those of Thomas Jefferson, Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr., and others. West argues that Washington's analysis was seen as offering a "solution" to the problem of racial oppression in a nation professing its belief in democracy. That solution was the idea of "race relations." In practice, this theory buttressed segregation by supposing that African Americans could prosper within Jim Crow's walls and without the normal levers by which other Americans pursued their interests. Washington did not, West contends, imagine a way to perfect democracy and an end to the segregationist policies of southern states. Instead, he offered an ideology that would obscure the injustices of segregation and preserve some measure of racial peace. White Americans, by embracing Washington's views, could comfortably find a way out of the moral and political contradictions raised by the existence of segregation in a supposedly democratic society. This was (and is) Washington's legacy: a form of analysis, at once obvious and concealed, that continues to prohibit the realization of a truly democratic politics.

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