DuBois stated that Washington's program of racial reconciliation "distinctly asks that Black people give up, at least for the present, three things---First political, Second insistence on civil rights, Third higher education of Negro youth." He said that this policy facilitated "1. The Disfranchisement of the Negro; 2. The legal creation of a distinct status of civil inferiority for the Negro; 3. The steady withdrawal of aid from institutions for the higher learning of the Negro."
The book immediately caught the attention of the progressive urban communities of Northern Blacks. Sundquist writes that "it is perhaps safe to say that the controversy added to his book's fame and certainly helped to boost DuBois to a position of rivalry with Washington." The white press first tried to ignore Souls of Black Folk, but found this impossible. It quickly went through several printings, and was selling at the rate of 2,000 copies annually, a large number in those days for a controversial African American author. Media coverage of the book greatly amplified its content and helped to lay the foundation for the "Washington-DuBois Debate" which continues to this day. In 1904, DuBois published his "Credo," a widely circulated prose poem setting forth the yearnings and aspirations of Black Americans. The "Credo" quickly became a framed wall decoration, in many homes often placed next to illustrations of Jesus Christ. While Washington's fame reached all social classes, DuBois seems to have been known most in the small Black middle class group upwards.
Some of Washington's staunchest supporters began to see the weaknesses in his position and the wisdom in DuBois' insistence on full enjoyment of the rights and privileges routinely available to others. In order to give body to his ideas, W.E.B. DuBois and a score or more like-minded men in 1904 founded an anti-Washington association called the "Niagara Movement," its objective being "to organize thoroughly the intelligent and honest Negroes throughout the United States for the purpose of insisting on manhood rights, industrial opportunity and spiritual freedom."