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In My Own Words

Booker T. and the Atlanta Compromise

By Miles Parish
SeeingBlack.com Junior Writer

The Atlanta Compromise was the nickname of a famous speech given by Booker T. Washington in 1895 in Atlanta when he assured Whites that he would not do anything to challenge White supremacy. White supremacy is a system where Whites get the best and have most of the power to run things and believe they deserve it because they are somehow better because they are White.

Whites were afraid that after slavery and Reconstruction, Blacks would fight for their equality and then Whites would have to share. Washington urged Blacks not to challenge this system but to keep in "their place" and try to do what they could where they were. He said Black people should "cast their buckets where they are."

The Atlanta Compromise was important because it made Washington very famous and popular among Whites and it helped him raise a lot of money for his institution, Tuskegee Institute. It was also important because there were other Blacks who were fighting to challenge White supremacy and teach Black and White people different ideas about equality. When Washington gave this speech, it was harder for them to get their ideas out.

-- April 9, 2001

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