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The Walter White Project

Randy Stakeman, Jackson Stakeman, Authors

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From the turn of the century to the birth of the NAACP

As the nineteenth century turned into the twentieth the plight of African Americans reached what has been called the nadir, ts lowest point.  In 1896 the Supreme Court had ruled that the separate but equal doctrine of many southern laws and the "Jim Crow" customs of the southern states were constitutional.  The majority opinion  said:

Legislation is powerless to eradicate racial
instincts or to abolish distinctions based upon physical differences,
and the attempt to do so can only result in accentuating the
difficulties of the present situation. If the civil and political
rights of both races be equal, one cannot be inferior to the other
civilly or politically. If one race be inferior to the other socially, the
Constitution of the United States cannot put them upon the same plane.

Booker T. Washington, the president of Tuskegee Institute, a school for African Americans delivered his "Atlanta Compromise" speech in 1895 and seemingly accepted the second class citizenship in exchange for economic opportunity even though that opportunity only amounted to crumbs from the table:

The wisest among my race understand that the agitation of questions of
social equality is the extremest folly, and that progress in the
enjoyment of all the privileges that will come to us must be the result
of severe and constant struggle rather than of artificial forcing. No
race that has anything to contribute to the markets of the world is long
in any degree ostracized. It is important and right that all privileges
of the law be ours, but it is vastly more important that we be prepared
for the exercise of these privileges. The opportunity to earn a dollar
in a factory just now is worth infinitely more than the opportunity to
spend a dollar in an opera-house.

Yet even in this time of despair three African Americans who were fated fight against the tide emerged:  W.E.B. DuBois, James Weldon Johnson and finally Walter White. To examine this period please click to follow our path.

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