Learn American History through 50 pop songs

Ida B., Booker T., and W.E.B


After the abolition of slavery in 1865 problems continued for African Americans in the US. Black Codes and Jim Crow Laws were established to continue the economic, social, and political marginalization of African Americans. Many Black progressive activists however stood up against these injustices.


© Copyright 2010 by Mr. and Mrs. Gillenwater

We were thrilled in 1865 when slavery was banned
Thinking all things gonna change now for the black man
But then we got the Black Codes
Then we got Jim Crow
And so on and on it goes
But then we got the Black Codes
Then we got Jim Crow
And so on and on it goes

We were killed in 1893 when a depression set in
Unemployment angered all them entitled white men
First they lost all hope
Then they got some rope
And so on and on it goes
First they lost all hope
Then they got some rope
And so on and on it goes

But there were people who rose up for change
Ida B Wells! Ida B Wells! was deeply outraged
She wrote in a newspaper, which she called Free Speech
Of lynch mobs and bodies swinging from trees
She called for a boycott of streetcars and stores
Amid death threats and protests she spoke out even more

Booker T Washington had a different approach
Up From Slavery was the book that he wrote
Born into slavery and self taught how to read
He urged black folks to take small steps to succeed
He said first learn a trade, then earn some cash
True social and political progress could not be done fast

WEB Dubois did not completely agree
Accepting inequality he just couldn’t see
He earned himself a PhD from Harvard
And the NAACP he started
Fight for your rights he said, with both tooth and nail
We must not give up till all our people prevail

Thank you Ida B. and Booker T. and WEB


“1865 when slavery was banned”— This line refers to the thirteenth Amendment passed in 1865 which banned slavery in the United States.

Black Codes— The Black Codes were laws passed on the state and local level in the United States to limit the civil rights and civil liberties of African Americans.

Jim Crow— The Jim Crow laws were state and local laws in the United States enacted between 1876 and 1965. They mandated racial segregation in all public facilities.

“1893 when a depression set in”— Also called the ‘The Panic of 1893’, this was a serious economic depression in the United States that began in 1893 and lasted for nearly five years.

Ida B. Wells— Ida Bell Wells (July 16, 1862 – March 25, 1931) was an African American journalist and newspaper editor. She documented the extent of lynching in the United States in her newspaper called Free Speech.

Booker T. Washington— Booker Taliaferro Washington (April 5, 1856 – November 14, 1915) was an American political leader, educator, orator and author. He was the dominant figure in the African American community in the United States from 1890 to 1915.

Up From SlaveryUp from Slavery is the 1901 autobiography of Booker T. Washington detailing his rise from slavery as a child.

WEB DuBois— WEB DuBois (February 23, 1868 – August 27, 1963) was an American civil rights activist. In 1909 DuBois founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

NAACP— The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, usually abbreviated as NAACP and pronounced N-double-A-C-P, is one of the oldest and most influential civil rights organizations in the United States.

Tiered Questions

Tier 1 Questions

Name three black activists and one way in which each fought for a better life for African Americans.

Tier 2 Questions

Compare and contrast Booker T Washington’s philosophy to that of WEB Dubois.

Tier 3 Questions

Consider both Booker T Washington’s and WEB Dubois’ approach towards racial reform. Which do you think is more effective? Which do you agree with more? Explain your feelings and reasoning thoroughly and thoughtfully.

Test Prep Questions

1) Following Reconstruction, the passage of Jim Crow laws in the South limited the effectiveness of

  • (1) the 14th and 15th amendments
  • (2) the Freedmen’s Bureau
  • (3) Black Codes
  • (4) tenant farming and sharecropping

2) In the South, the passage of Jim Crow laws in the 1870s and 1880s led directly to the

  • (1) racial integration of public schools
  • (2) decline of the Democratic party
  • (3) organization of the Ku Klux Klan
  • (4) segregation of public facilities

3) Which leader founded a vocational training institution in the late 1800s to improve economic opportunities for African Americans?

  • (1) George Washington Carver
  • (2) Frederick Douglass
  • (3) W. E. B. Du Bois
  • (4) Booker T. Washington

4) During Reconstruction, the Black Codes passed by Southern states were attempts to

  • (1) provide land to former slaves
  • (2) punish former Confederate leaders
  • (3) repeal the Jim Crow laws
  • (4) deny equal rights to African Americans

5) In which area did the views of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B Du Bois differ most?

  • (1) the need to stop violence against African Americans
  • (2) the speed with which full equality of the races should be achieved
  • (3) the need to integrate the armed forces
  • (4) the idea of including white Americans in their political action organizations

6) In the early 20th century, which policy for the advancement of African Americans was favored by W.E.B. Du Bois and the newly formed National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)?

  • (1) mass migration to northern cities
  • (2) immediate action to end segregation and win equal rights
  • (3) establishment of a new republic in Africa for freedmen
  • (4) emphasis on economic advancement over social equality