In the more than half century since the publication of W.E.B. Du Bois’ ‘The Souls of Black Folk’ in 1903, Du Bois’ ideological and pedagogical views have been increasingly pitted against those of Booker T. Washington. In many ways, the struggles between the two men, some real and others imagined, are directly related to their different realities. Du Bois was born free; Washington born a slave. Despite sharing mixed parentage, Washington, although red-haired with grey eyes was unquestionably black; while Du Bois was café au lait.
Washington was based in the South, while Du Bois’ research took him across the globe.
For all their perceived differences, Washington and Du Bois did have something, or rather someone, in common. Both men shared a deep and enduring relationship with Margaret James Murray Washington—Du Bois as a Fisk classmate, and Washington as her husband.