Friday, February 18, 2011

"Awakening of the Negro" by Booker T. Washington

Source:  (mp3)
Length: 24 minutes
Reader: uncredited

The essay: In The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. Du Bois criticizes Booker T. Washington for his emphasis on industrial education to the exclusion of a classical education for the black people. Since I reviewed Du Bois's work earlier this week, I thought I should give Washington a chance to respond here at Free Listens, since I want to be fair.

"Awaking of the Negro" dwells on the same question of education that Du Bois attacks Washington for in his book. Washington argues that a classical education is useless to those in poverty. An industrial education, on the other hand, not only teaches skills that will allow those in need to make money, it also teaches the benefits of using money wisely and the value of hard work. What Du Bois sees as patronizing comes across as practical.

I find Washington's arguments convincing, though his views of the white response to black success seems rather simplistic in retrospect. Du Bois's most convincing criticisms are at Washington's conciliatory views of civil rights, rather than his educational ideas, which still have importance today. Modern students need opportunities to work toward either a traditional college education or a technical college education. My fear for modern education is that in many parts of the country we've emphasized traditional college over getting the type of technical education that Washington advocates.

Rating: 8 / 10

The reader: The uncredited reader here does a good job with the reading. The enunciation is clear, and the pace is moderate. The reader does have a tendency to sound somewhat superior in his delivery, though that tone does fit well with the self-congratulatory message of the article. The recording itself is well-done and clear.

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