Booker T. Washington was one of the leading promoters of what was called "industrial education." He believed this was the best kind of education for most African Americans. In addition to basic skills like reading and writing, it was important to learn a trade that would lead to a real job.
"Many have had the thought that industrial training was meant to make the Negro work, much as he worked during the days of slavery. This is far from my idea of it. If this training has any value for the Negro, as it has for the white man, it consists in teaching the Negro how rather not to work, but how to make the forces of nature -- air, water, horse-power, steam, and electric power -- work for him.... There should be a more vital and practical connection between the Negro's educated brain and his opportunity of earning his daily living."
-- Washington, The Future of the American Negro, 1899
"I am an earnest advocate of manual training and trade teaching for black boys, and for white boys, too. I believe that next to the founding of Negro colleges the most valuable addition to Negro education since the war, has been industrial training for black boys."
-- Du Bois, The Negro Problem, 1903
Du Bois emphasized the importance of higher education for African Americans.
"The Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men. The problem of education, then, among Negroes must first be to deal with the Talented Tenth; it is the problem of developing the Best of this race that they may guide the Mass away from the contamination and death of the Worst, in their own and other races."
-- W. E. B. Du Bois, The Negro Problem, 1903
"There is no defense or security for any of us except in the highest intelligence and development of all. If anywhere there are efforts tending to curtail the fullest growth of the Negro, let these efforts be turned into stimulating, encouraging, and making him the most useful and intelligent citizen."
-- Washington, Atlanta Exposition Address, 1895