Debating African American Leadership

In Dr. Balcerski’s HIS 322: African American History from 1877, students debated a series of questions about the famous African Americans Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois. The questions were as follows:

  1. It’s a new century in America.  What do you make of the plight of African Americans in the year 1900?
  2. Outline your views on education and citizenship.  What does your opponent get wrong on these subjects?
  3. What comes next?  How will the African American experience change over the next 50 years?  What will America in 1950 look like for African Americans?

Divided into two larger teams—either Washington or DuBois—each side worked in smaller groups to prepare key points of supporting evidence.  From these smaller teams, three spokespersons were chosen to participate in the debate, with each person permitted one minute for a statement and thirty seconds for rebuttal.  Professor Balcerski scored the debate.

Each side offered compelling commentary on the historical questions of the best possible tactics for African Americans in the year 1900.  While both sides faithfully defined their views, Professor Balcerski awarded the win to the DuBois team.  Both sides left with smiles on their face, as seen in the photo taken after the debate.

Now everybody shake hands...

Now everybody shake hands…

Stay tuned for the next debate, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., will face off against Malcolm X in the year 1963!