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The Nationalist Option And Its Consequences on the Movement Towards Equality.

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Introduction

Rising out of slavery and reconstruction were questions of the capacity of blacks for education, citizenship, and leadership. Black leaders and writers came up with separate sollutions to answer these questions, ultimatly seeking the same outcome of equality for African American people in the United States. These separate sollutions were a "dialectical struggle" within the black community between the opposing forces of black nationalists such as Booker T. Washington, and integrationalists such as W.E.B. DuBois. Commentaries on the meaning of racial uplift and the role of black leadership in pursuing it were often shaded by social Darwinian conceptions of racial struggle, specifically, the view that "two distinct races on the same land mass could never coexist, as the dominant race would inevitably annihilate the subordinated one" (Gaines, 1996, p. 36). Out of these conceptions, the nationalist option was born, which stressed that the way to achieve equality for black people in America was to either organize around their own cultural ancestry and formulate a government that would offer equality or to the acquisition of industrial training and uplift through education. This opposed the integrationalist option, which stressed upward mobility through the pursuit of higher education and direct political involvment. Both options maintained that the ulimate goal was for blacks to obtain equality. However, the nationalist option proves less effective than the integrationalist option because it consequently yeilds to less equality between blacks and whites, by calling on the black community to limit themselves to industrial skills and to abstain from politics. ...read more.

Middle

56). Although the UNIA's long-range goal was a massive back-to-Africa emigration, Garvey also called on his followers, who were predominantly poor, uneducated urban blacks, to pool their resources in great commercial and industrial enterprises. For various reasons, however, Garvey's organization began to rapidly decline in 1922 (Avery, 1989, p. 54). Although other philosophies prevailed, including the coutering integrationalist option and the idea of non-violent resistence headed by Martin Luther King, Jr, the reasoned doctrine tied to the nationalist option did not fully dissipate. The nationalist option continued to be an influential doctrine, however it is the non-violent resistence philosophy that prevails in historical references to the civil rights movement. This is mainly because the nationalist option could never gain the type of equailty that is ultimatly sought among black leaders and the black community in the United States today. For instance, in order for great change to occur, the government needs to act. Without government enforcemnet of laws regarding segregation or voting rights, blacks will forever be placed in a subordinate position because of the prevelance of racism within the United States. Booker T. Washington had often proclaimed, in accordance with northern white philanthropists, religious and civic leaders, and southern politicians and planter elites, that blacks forsake politics for an indefinite period of time (Gaines, 1996, p.39). He discredidted the political and educational gains of Reconstruction as "mistakes," their reforms "artificial and forced." ...read more.

Conclusion

This, of course, would be the white elitists of the time. Garvey and Washington both realized the implications of having white supporters. Through their support it would be easier to obtain public forums and gain greater influence. However, because of the capitalist based white system under which America flouished, leaders were forced to formulate ideals that would captivate both the white and black community. The nationalist option did just that, because it claimed that blacks could become self-sufficient and in a sense "equal," while still promising whites that blacks would never gain too much complete power or control. The main source of change comes through government intervention, which ultimatly is achieved through political action as a necessary means to accomplish the goal of equality. Since the fountain head of the nationalist option stems from the ideas of Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvery who objected to black political involvment, it is clear that the nationalist option could never succeed. Simply avoiding the problem by leaving the country and its social stratifications behind, or accepting a subordinate position in society does not produce equality among blacks and whites. The nationalist option yeilds to the capitalist system of America, which leaves room for advancment, but not complete and utter equality. By joining forces with racist Southern elites and the Klu Klux Klan, leaders counter-act advancment efforts by complying with groups that seek to push blacks down to a level of subordination. The Nationalist Option And Its Consequences on the Movement Towards Equality Jeannie Herbst 6151765 Black Studies 6 May 23, 2003 1 ...read more.

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