Both Du Bois and Alaine Locke were concerned as to whether the American educational system, as a functional framework, encouraged African American students,  just like the white students to seek acknowledgment outside of themselves, that will in the end lead to a sense of Ontological and epistemological worthlessness.  For Du Bois, his primary concern in regard to his political platform was the status of black people as being citizens of the United States and overseas, and how that status is tied not only to education but also to issues of economics, politics, and popular culture (Bois, 1935). Because he was fully aware that the modern intellectual tradition argued that a human being had the potential to be educated and/or knowing, or to reason, questions concentrating on the purpose of educating black people in twentieth-century America would become crucial for Du Bois (Bois, 1935). However, white supremacy's marginalization creates a schizophrenic state for black people, which Du Bois viewed it as being a state of double awareness; this is the inability of a person to be completely conscious within himself or herself is referred to as double consciousness. Rather, the person sees himself through the lens of the prevailing culture, for which the black students would find themselves in. They had to learn to be white and live in the white culture if they were to also be educated (Bois, 1935). The conflict between two beings within one person is caused by double consciousness: the first need to define oneself, and the second want to integrate into the dominant society, which dismisses the individual's actual self as inferior. In other words, the way of being, way of individual thoughts and way of viewing the world. For black people, double consciousness emphasizes racist education system as that which makes one feel both American and not American, as well as the conflict between being African and American. Double awareness, on the other hand, is not an individual term that only black people experience.

In the same line of thought, Alain Locke has made a significant contribution to educational theory, based on the black student experiences (Locke, 1935). Locke's educational system mirrored his belief that excluded communities must preserve their cultural identity while affirming their humanity through appeals to the universal. Unlike many modern proponents of multiculturalism, Locke proposes a solution to reconcile plurality and universalism by pointing to the third viewpoint in regard to the universalized common-denominator humanity. In other words, Locke maintained that cultural and/or racial differences should be regarded in the manner which the universal application and value to the entire human experience in both his aesthetic vision and pedagogical concept is exercised.  If one could ever generalize the implemented belief that no one nation and no one race is in the position or will be in in the position to dominate the earth, then America would have broken the intellectual backbone of prejudice and certainly, in terms of education, will have laid an academic foundation for effective democracy; according to Locke.

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In my view, Both Lock and Dubois are right, since the simultaneous commitments if educators to diversity and the declaration of universal human rights principles can be reconciled in the  philosophy of education. This endeavor to bridge the gap amongst universalism and plurality influenced his sophisticated educational philosophy (Locke, 1935). A motivating element underlying Locke and Dubois educational concept and the shift of the Old Negro to the new African American student, or from issue to rich and malleable personality. Locke and Dubois encourages us to reconsider how we educate people of color, particularly African-Americans. Although Locke's primary interest was in the aesthetic, he was well aware — as indicated by the numerous types of studies he taught at Howard — that African Americans required a liberal and innovative pedagogical approach rather than a strictly defined education (Locke, 1935). Unlike Du Bois  however, Locke believed that the Negro did not require a single sort of education, but in both forms, whether political or industrial.


Bois, W. E. (1935). Does the Negro need separate schools? The Journal of Negro Education, 4(3), 328.

Locke, A. (1935). The dilemma of segregation. The Journal of Negro Education, 4(3), 406.

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