Guiding Questions:

In what ways were the experiences of African-American migrants and European immigrants to the cities of the United States 1890-1915 similar and different?

Did their experiences as groups live up to the ideal of “equal protection” and opportunity for all?

Introduction

Portraits of George Washington Carver and Booker T. Washington

African-American leader Booker T. Washington took a tour of Europe in 1911 and in 1912. He and his co-author published a book about their experience and observations entitled The Man Farthest Down.

"The man farthest down" is from a quote by another famous African-American who worked with Booker T. Washington at his famous school Tuskegee University: George Washington Carver. Carver said, "The primary idea in all of my work was to help the farmer and fill the poor man's empty dinner pail. My idea is to help the 'man farthest down', this is why I have made every process just as simply as I could to put it within his reach."

Who was the "man farthest down"?

In the early 20th century of the United States, both African-Americans and European immigrants had traveled to the cities of the United States in order to make a better life for themselves and their families. Why was a 'better life' desired? The United States as a nation offered opportunities and protections, many of which were embodied in the highest law of the land, the Constitution. The Constitution, in its original form and in the amendments added to it after the American Civil War, promised "equal protection under the laws" to the citizens who lived within the nation.

Those who traveled from place to place within the United States, or to the U.S. from across the ocean, hoped for the equality of opportunity and treatment that the founding documents promised. Their experiences varied.

In what ways were the experiences of African-American migrants and European immigrants to the cities of the United States between 1890 and 1915 similar and different?

Did their experiences as groups live up to the ideal of “equal protection” and opportunity for all?

Header Images: Eastern US Range Map, created by Alan Rockefeller; retrieved from Wikimedia Commons; Blank Map of Europe 1791; retrieved from Wikimedia Commons under the GNU Free Documentation License

Inline images: George Washiongton Carver, photographed by Frances Benjamin Johnston, 1906: retrieved from Wikimedia Commons; original from Library of Congress' Prints and Photgraphs Division, digital ID ppmsc.03252; Booker T. Washington, photographed by Frances Benjamin Johnston, c1895: retrieved from Wikimedia Commons; original from Library of Congress' Prints and Photgraphs Division, digital ID ppmsca.23961