Atlanta Expositon Speech

before the
Atlanta Cotton States
and International Exposition

Booker T. Washington

Atlanta, Georgia

September 18, 1895


Discussion Questions

1. Why does Washington believe that after the Civil War his people started at the top rather than the bottom? Why was this a problem?

2. Washington says that African Americans should cast down their buckets where they are. What does he mean by this statement?

3. What type of education does Washington think is most important for African Americans? Why?

4. According to Washington, why should southern whites be concerned with the condition of southern blacks?

5. Washington thinks that economic progress must come before social progress. Explain.

6. Why is Washington willing to accept social inequality? Does this acceptance undercut his claims as an African American leader?

Paper Topics

1. According to Washington, what can or should society do for an individual as opposed to what an individual must do for himself or herself?

2. What does Washington see as the necessary steps in becoming an independent individual and a full member of a society?

3. Does Washington provide good advice to the former slaves of the South? What effect will his teaching have on whites in both the North and South?

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