African Americans During The Progressive Era

African American reformers during the Progressive Era


While the Progressive movement brought significant change and progress to white Americans it was primarily a movement based primarily in white, northern, industrial cities. The needs of African Americans located primarily in the south also needed to be addressed.

I. The Progressive Movement and African Americans

A. African American Problems

1. Little real wealth

-many southern agricultural tenant farmers and hired hands.

-others remained south near families but had little opportunity.

2. Jim Crow Laws – de Jure segregation

-Plessey v Ferguson still in effect.

3. Black schools were inferior.

4. Political districts were gerrymandered to eliminate black control.

B. Solutions

1. Migration north

-settled in the cities, looking for work but many of the same problems remained in terms of education and opportunity.

2. Church involvement.

3. Beginnings of efforts gained at achieving equality.

C. African American Reformers



Booker T. Washington

W.E.B. DuBois

Marcu Garvey


Argued that Blacks should make friends with whites and accept their inferior political position.

Felt that economic equality could be gained before political equality.


Blamed Washington for creating a black underclass.

Felt that Blacks should never accept inequality.

Felt that Blacks were not wanted in America and could never gain equality.


Founded the Tuskegee Institute, an all black farming college.

Founded the NAACP – National Association for the Advancement of Colored Persons

Activity led to the settlement of the nation of Liberia in Africa. It was a nation of escaped freed slaves and African Americans.