Booker Taliaferro Washington (1856-1915) was an African American political leader, educator and author. He was one of the dominant figures in African American history in the United States from 1890 to 1915. Born into slavery in Franklin County, Virginia, at the age of 9, he was freed and moved with his family to West Virginia, where he learned to read and write while working in manual labor jobs. He later trained as a teacher, and in 1881 was named the first leader of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. He was granted an honorary Masters of Arts degree from Harvard University in 1896 and an honorary Doctorate degree from Dartmouth College in 1901.
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (1868-1963) was a civil rights activist and leader, sociologist, educator, historian, prolific writer, editor, poet, scholar, and socialist. In 1896 he became the first black person to receive a Ph. D. from Harvard University and was the most prominent intellectual leader and political activist on behalf of African Americans in the first half of the twentieth century. He wrote many books including three major autobiographies. The Souls of Black Folk (1903) is his most well-known work.