“Price-Mars’ Reflections on the Du Bois-Washington Debate”

“Price-Mars’ Reflections on the Du Bois-Washington Debate”

For my intellectual biography on the greatest Haitian intellectual and my dead mentor Jean Price-Mars (1876-1969), I am writing this cool chapter on Price-Mars and Black America. Interestingly, Price-Mars was friends with both W.E. B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington. (You should read correspondence between Du Bois and Price-Mars and see how they expressed brotherly affection for each other.) Price-Mars first met Booker T. in France in 1903 while he was still a medical student at the University of Paris/”La Sorbonne” (1899-1903)–the leading research university in France.

Price-Mars saw Booker T. again in 1904 while he was in his diplomatic post in the United States and serving as Government Commissioner for the Universal Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri in that year. When he visited the Tuskegee Institute or the “Tuskegee Machine,” he stayed with Booker T. for a few days and was amazed by his leadership, friendship, hospitality, and his commitment to improve the plot of Black Americans via the Institute.

Interestingly, as one who was promoting a similar version of the Duboisian “Talented Tenth” in the early years of 1900 in Haiti and pushing for the moral leadership and responsibility, and the intellectual guidance and mentorship of the Haitian intelligentsia and the ruling class (“the élite”) in society, Price-Mars integrated Washington’s agricultural theories and social philosophy and the Duboisian Talented Tenth theory into the Haitian society in order to improve the conditions of the Haitian people and reform the country’s educational system.

Here I am trying to write this chapter, trying to figure out how the famed Haitian scholar (the “Uncle” of the Black world) and Pan-African polemist was able to reconcile both opposing methods and philosophies, and the leadership approaches and educational theories of two of the most respected leaders in Black America: W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington in the early years of the twentieth-century. Pray for me 😊🙏


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