January 18, 2018

Birmingham Revealed: Washington & Du Bois, Two Opinions, One Goal

Birmingham Revealed: Washington & Du Bois, Two Opinions, One Goal Dramatic Performance Feb. 1

Birmingham, Alabama — In keeping with Alabama’s Bicentennial celebration of Discovering Places and Honoring Our People, Vulcan Park and Museum (VPM) has commissioned playwright and director Lee Shackleford to write a one-act, two-man play: Washington & DuBois: Two Opinions, One Goal. The play will cover post-Civil War integration and the vastly different philosophies of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois, while showing their respect for one another’s opinion. The performance of the one-act play is Feb. 1 at Vulcan Park and Museum. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with the performance beginning at 6:00 p.m.

As has been the case with other dramatic and musical productions commissioned for Vulcan Park and Museum’s Birmingham Revealed Series, this performance will become part of the Birmingham History on the Road repertoire. Primarily presented to local-area high school students, Birmingham History on the Road brings to life historical figures and events to engage students with the lessons history offers, while also advancing fine arts concepts.

Birmingham’s colossal icon, Vulcan, symbolizes the people, places and events that have shaped Birmingham’s history and proudly stands tall for the city, pointing toward the future. This symbolism places Vulcan Park and Museum (VPM) in a unique position to tell stories that defined and helped shape our city, state and beyond, through Birmingham Revealed educational programs for students and adults.

HISTORY of Washington and DuBois:

Booker T. Washington, Founder and President of the Tuskegee Institute, was a civil rights activist, educator, and cultural leader. Born into slavery, Washington worked and financed his own education. His philosophy for civil rights encouraged easy access to education for African-Americans in the rural south and promoted an education that prepared students for available jobs. He befriended wealthy supporters throughout the country who contributed to his cause. Perhaps his most controversial act was his speech at the Atlanta Address at the Cotton State and International Exhibition in Atlanta in 1895, which detailed an informal agreement where southern African-Americans would receive better access to education, due process, and financial assistance from northern charities in exchange for their peaceful submission within a segregated society. Although he approved of this agreement at first, W.E.B. Du Bois soon became the voice of an opposing movement that called for immediate equality and political representation in the South. This movement deemed Washington’s speech as the “Atlanta compromise,” and Washington himself as “The Great Accommodator.” This eventually led to the formation of the Niagara Movement, the predecessor of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Born and raised in Massachusetts, Du Bois did not experience southern racism and segregation until attending college in Nashville. His philosophy did not support African-Americans integrating into white society, but instead, he wanted them to embrace their heritage while contributing to society.

Both Du Bois and Washington continued to work towards the common goal of equality, but with different strategies. At times, in order to advance his approach, Washington even used his influence to silence Du Bois’ movement. These two movements would eventually reconcile and work together after Washington’s death in 1915.

Tickets for the Feb. 1 performance can be purchased at www.visitvulcan.com/events

About Vulcan® Park and Museum

Vulcan Park Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization which operates Vulcan Park and Museum on behalf of the City of Birmingham. Vulcan Park and Museum’s mission is to preserve and promote Vulcan as the symbol for the Birmingham region, advance knowledge and understanding of Birmingham’s history and culture, and to encourage exploration of the region.