September 18 - 1895 - Booker T. Washington's "Atlanta Compromise" Speech
Booker T. Washington was the most significant African-American leader in the 1890s, which is why he was invited to give a speech to the Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta. There, he addressed the role of what he called "the negro race" in the South moving forward. Washington's theme was that black people would be best served by learning trades and becoming better at agricultural and industrial practices. He also addressed the white leaders of the South, telling them to encourage this approach in the black community. Washington would note that white and black southerners would be separated like the fingers, but "one as the hand." Most importantly, Booker T. Washington agreed that the key to this approach was to never work towards social equality between the races. This fact is why it would later be called the "Atlanta Compromise," by W.E.B. DuBois, who once supported Washington, but would develop his own approach to lifting up African-Americans through working for civil rights. After the formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Washington's speech would be seen almost as a relic of a former time.