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Voices of Black Liberation

Voices of Black Liberation

This year I started the debate by asking all students to respond to the question, "What is your plan for achieving full freedom for the Black community?" One student stated, "I want to repeat what I said in my speech. I, Booker T. Washington, want all of you to learn how to build homes, farms, and to read. I know that when we are educated, we all will fit with the white people. Education is the key." There was a quick response from nearly all students criticizing Booker T. Washington's view of seeing education as the only strategy. A student representing Malcolm X said, "We aren't here to fit in with the white man. We must end white racism and free our communities. The white man doesn't want the Black man to do anything good. They just want you to do bad so they can put their club upside your head."

In another class, students emphasized differences between DuBois and Washington. They realized from their reading that much of what DuBois said was criticizing Booker T. Washington for believing only in education and not fighting against Jim Crow segregation and the rampant violence that faced African Americans at the time.

Students representing Fannie Lou Hamer and Barbara Jordan made it clear that "we cannot just work outside the system but must also fight prejudice and racism within the system. And that includes the Democrat and Republican parties."

In one class, a student representing Marcus Garvey confronted others by challenging them to follow him because "You must always seek and work for a government absolutely your own and I'm the person to lead you to this." Someone representing Huey Newton asked, "The only way to freedom is to follow you and your businesses? What about uniting with people in other races that support us? What about poor people who aren't Black?" The Garvey group responded, "They aren't going to help us, especially the rednecks. We have to depend on ourselves. No people have ever been free without their own nation. It's the only protection our race can have."

Stokely Carmichael's approach to Black power was portrayed by students as "Black people getting it for themselves, that is, power to choose their own leaders, build and live in their own communities, and not be forced to integrate with whites to be free." The students representing Reverend King's perspective said, "We are all of the human race and integration of races is the final goal in our freedom struggle."

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