Atlanta Compromise

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Atlanta Compromise

On September 18, 1895, Booker T. Washington, the president of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, delivered an address at the Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia, that gained him recognition as the leading spokesman for African Americans.

Speaking to a predominantly white audience, Washington called upon black southerners to subordinate their demands for equal civil and political rights, at least temporarily, in order to focus upon efforts to achieve an economic base in the New South. The speech climaxed with Washington's apparent acquiescence to southern white desires for racial segregation when he proclaimed: "In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress." This "compromise" epitomized the accommodationist ideology of racial self-help that came to be associated with Booker T. Washington's leadership in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

See also Tuskegee University


Harlan, Louis R. Booker T. Washington: The Making of a Black Leader, 18561901. New York: Oxford University Press, 1972.

Meier, August. Negro Thought in America, 18801915: Racial Ideologies in the Age of Booker T. Washington. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1963.

james m. sorelle (1996)

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Atlanta Compromise

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Atlanta Compromise