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Black Leaders Of 20th Century

In the time after the fall of radical black reconstruction of the nineteenth century, African Americans were being oppressed by rural farming, civil rights, economical advancement and sharecropping. Booker T. Washington charged the fight for economical and political accommodation with his dream of equal civil rights. Timothy Thomas Fortune was an influential black journalist that fought for the rights of African Americans through literal resistance. The Lonely Warrior, Ida B. Wells was an outspoken voice against lynching throughout America and fought against the oppression of men and woman everywhere.

Booker T. Washington was one of the last great African American leaders born into slavery. Washington emphasized political means and civil rights along with economic means and self-determination. Washington was the founder of the Tuskegee Normal and the Industrial Institute in 1881, for the development of skilled trade. The Instituted was the largest self-black supported Institution in America at the time. The school taught the arts of trade, self-determination and economical independence of sharecropping.

Washington gave the Atlanta Compromise Address in 1895, to disclaim the notion of white supremacy and social equality to the south. Booker T. Washington sought to influence whites, but sought out the solid programs of economical and educational progress for blacks. Washington was one that thought that speaking out against injustice was self-defeating and should be suppressed. Washington founded the National Negro Business League in 1900, helped put a stronghold on substantial black population and did little for black business.

As the chief black advisor to President Roosevelt and Taft, Washington devoted much of his time to securing federal jobs and used political power to win over key political figures in the North. He aided many blacks businesses but also hindered the activities of those who spoke against him. He also helped appoint the first black assistant US Attorney General. Many of Washington’s ideas and concepts are still being used today in black communities. Booker T. Washington was in control of many black newspapers that agreed with his views and opinions.

Many black leaders such as W. E. B Du Bois and William Monroe Trotter did not see eye to eye with Washington and he was believed to be getting in the way of other black group movements. At this time Washington felt that his leadership in the black community depended on the help of white leaders and his wittiness to use them for what he needed. He secretly tried to overturn the grandfather clause, and (the fact that he could), kept his popularity with the whites. To the end of his life, many blacks started to question his loyalty to the black communities and whites really did not remember him, and only thought of him as a black educator.

Thought of as the great successor to Frederick Douglass, Timothy Thomas Fortune was an influential black journalist. Fortune was born in Marianna, Florida, in 1856 into slavery, the same year as Booker T. Washington. Timothy was exposed to the harsh realities of white racism and white supremacy. As the South grew to be more than Fortune could take due to racism, he decided to leave and move to New York. He was a self-taught man and attended school for only three months. Fortune spent most of his free time studying and reading books literature, history, law and government.

This helped him design his own literary and oratory style of writing. As a journalist and the editor of the “New York Age”, “Globe”, the “New York Freemen”, and the founder of the African American Council, Fortune was known as the spokesman and the defender of civil rights of African Americans in the South as well as the North. Fortune was a militant writer and editor, who was named the “Agitator”. He was known for his strong personality, his straight forwardness and harsh opinions. Fortune was one who believed in the fight for black rights and he fought to gain equality for blacks.

In the fight against injustice, Fortune urged women to support of the National African American League to help gain political power and equality. Fortune even hired Ida B. Wells Barnett as an anti-lynching writer for the “Globe”. At this time, fortune was considered a radicalist and Washington was considered as being safe and reasonable. In 1907, Fortune sold his newspaper “The Age” and then his years of being a great leader came to an end. On June 2, 1928 in Philadelphia at his home he passed away. Ida B. WellsBarnett was said to be the Joan of Arc of the 1920’s.

As the anti-lynching spokeswomen for African American, Wells showed courage and independence in her attack on lynching {upon what ever she seemed fit to attack. } She was born into slavery during the Civil War in 1862. She witnessed the loss of both parents to yellow fever and also saw the brutal lynching of three of her close friends in Memphis. These tragic events inspired Wells to launch a crusade against lynching at the age of thirty years old. Wells spoke out against lynching, Jim Crow Laws and segregation. She published two pieces, Free Speech and statistics on lynching and its myths, while were a big hit.

Wells also started anti-lynching groups outside of the US, such as Great Britain. Wells was known as a woman that fought against Jim Crow laws and segregation. In May 1892, Well’s newspaper the “Free Speech” was destroyed and she was told if she returned that there would be bloodshed. Wells went to New York where Timothy Thomas Fortune offered her a job at the “New York Age”, to be the journalist against anti-lynching. Fortune and Wells began lecture tours of Northeast America in 1892. In 1895, Wells went on another tour through the northern and western states.

With lynching on the rise blacks in the South grew quite weary of lynching. A person could be lynched for violating a labor contract, shooting rabbits or would be falsely accused of a crime that he or she did not commit. Based on the Chicago Tribute Annual Summary, one out of every five lynchings was based on black accused of raping a white women. The “moral monster”, was an excuse to oppress African Americans by racist whites. They wanted them to fit into society as an outcast race, “beyond pale human sympathy”. Wells role in the NAACP was that of an activist fighting for all possible rights.

Ida B. Well’s kept up her fight for black equality for all African-Americans. Her fight stayed alive for some time until mutual friends such as Washington and Fortune decided to push her out of newspaper journalism for black rights and eventually out of the NAACP. All three figures that are talked about above are some of the greatest leaders in the fight for African-American rights. Booker T. Washington was a fine leader in (towards starting) the movement to push black equality, however he lacked the courage to be a true leader because he only wanted to keep whites pleased.

The “Agitator” as Thomas T. Fortune was a great editor of black newspaper, next to Du Bois. Fortune is not all that and a bag of chips. He is a man that lived on hiding behind Washington and his ideas, was just a toy of Washington. “Joan of Arc”, Ida B. Wells was the anti-lynching spokeswomen and the true heart and soul behind the fight for black equality in America. She is the only true independent leader out of the above. Wells spoke her mind, which was the truth, and she never looked back even when it was her life that mattered.

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