Upcoming Black History Posts
  • Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority
  • Delta Sigma Theta Sorority
  • Morgan State University
  • Richard Wright
  • Thelma ‘Butterfly’ McQueen
  • Robert H. Sengstacke
  • Earl Lloyd
Categories

W.E.B. DuBoise

W.E.B. DuBoise

W.E.B. DuBoise

(b. February 23, 1868, Great Barrington, Mass.; d. August 27, 1963, Accra, Ghana), writer, social scientist, critic, and public intellectual; cofounder of the Niagara Movement, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the Pan-African Congress; editor of the NAACP magazine, The Crisis.

Along with Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington, historians consider W. E. B. Du Bois one of the most influential African Americans before the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Born only six years after emanicipation, Du Bois was active well into his nineties, dying in 1963, on the eve of the March on Washington. 

Despite near-constant criticism for his often contradictory social and political opinions, he was accused, at various times, of elitism, communism, and black separatism, Du Bois remained throughout his long life black America’s leading public intellectual. Born in a small western Massachusetts town, Du Bois and his mother,- his father had left the family when he was young – were among the few African American residents.

Of his heritage, Du Bois wrote that it included “a flood of Negro blood, a strain of French, a bit of Dutch, but, Thank God! No ‘Anglo-Saxon’….” After an integrated grammar-school education, Du Bois attended the historically black Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, and then Harvard University, from which he received a bachelor’s degree in 1890. That fall Du Bois began graduate work in history at Harvard under legendary professors George Santayana, William James, and Josiah Royce; Du Bois was especially influenced by Albert Bushnell Hart, one of the fathers of the new science of sociology. After two years at the University of Berlin (1892-1894), he received a Ph.D. from Harvard in 1895. His dissertation, “The Suppression of the African Slave-Trade to the United States of America, 1638-1870” was published in 1896 as the first volume in the Harvard Historical Studies series.
Despite exceptional credentials, discrimination left Du Bois with no options other than a job at Wilberforce College, a small black school in Ohio. Arriving in 1895, Du Bois left a year later with his wife, former student Nina Gomer. They went to Philadelphia, where the University of Pennsylvania had invited Du Bois to conduct a sociological study of that city’s black neighborhoods. The work led to The Philadelphia Negro (1899), which provided the model for a series of monographs he wrote while at Atlanta University, whose faculty he joined in 1897. As a young sociologist, he sought to “study [social problems] in the light of the best scientific research.” But the persistence of segregation, discrimination, and lynching led Du Bois to increasingly feel that “one could not be a calm, cool, and detached scientist while Negroes were lynched, murdered, and starved….”

In 1903 Du Bois published his first collection of essays, The Souls of Black Folk, which many have called the most important book ever written by an African American. In it he identified “the color line” as the twentieth century’s central problem, and dismissed the accommodationism advocated by Booker T. Washington. “[When] Mr. Washington apologizes for injustice,” Du Bois wrote, “does not rightly value the privilege and duty of voting, belittles the emasculating effects of caste distinctions, and opposes the higher training and ambition of our brighter minds…we must unceasingly and firmly oppose [him].” In 1905, Du Bois joined with William Monroe Trotter, militant editor of the black newspaper the Boston Guardian, in forming the Niagara Movement, a short-lived effort to secure full civil and political rights for African Americans. In its wake, Du Bois helped found the most influential civil rights organization of the twentieth century: the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Unlike the Niagara Movement, the NAACP was an interracial organization from the start. Its leadership was largely white; as director of publications and research, Du Bois was the only African American among its early officers. In 1910 Du Bois left Atlanta for the NAACP’s New York City headquarters where he founded The Crisis, the association’s magazine. As editor he published the work of Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, and other Harlem Renaissance literary lights as well as his own wide-ranging and provocative opinions. From 1910 until his resignation as editor in 1934, Du Bois’s editorials reveal the continuing evolution of his political thought. Early calls for integration and an end to lynching hewed the NAACP line, while Du Bois’s pleas for African American participation in World War I brought scorn from more radical black voices. His insistence on absolute equality for “the talented tenth” of black intellectual elites coexisted uneasily with arguments for self-segregation and technical training for the black masses. Such shifting opinions, along with his sometimes haughty self-assurance, meant that, as one biographer has noted, Du Bois would always have “influence, not power.”

Increasingly, Du Bois looked beyond American race relations to international economics and politics. In 1915 he wrote The Negro, a sociological examination of the African diaspora. In 1919 he helped organize the second Pan-African Congress. Visiting Africa in the 1920s, Du Bois wrote that his chief question was whether “Negroes are to lead in the rise of Africa or whether they must always and everywhere follow the guidance of white folk.”

Along with anti-imperialism, Du Bois also expressed interest in socialism, possibly in response to the disproportionate effect the Great Depression was having on African Americans as well his favorable impressions of a visit to the Soviet Union in 1926. Meanwhile, starting with a new essay collection, Darkwater: Voices From Within the Veil (1920), Du Bois’s writing became more militant and controversial, and conflicts with NAACP secretary Walter F. White led to Du Bois’s resignation as editor of The Crisis in 1934.

Returning to Atlanta University, Du Bois continued to write weekly opinion columns in black newspapers, as well as books such as Black Reconstruction in America (1934); Black Folk: Then and Now (1939); and Dusk of Dawn: An Autobiography of a Concept of Race (1940). In 1939 Du Bois founded Phylon, a journal devoted to race and cultural issues, whose radical nature may have contributed to his forced resignation from Atlanta University in 1944. Then in his mid-seventies, Du Bois did not retire but instead rejoined the NAACP staff (although he did not resume editorship of The Crisis). Declaring that he would spend “the remaining years of [his] active life” in the fight against imperialism, Du Bois helped reorganize the Pan-African Congress, which in 1945 elected him its international president. That same year he published Color and Democracy: Colonies and Peace, and in 1947 produced The World and Africa. Du Bois’s outspoken criticism of American foreign policy and his involvement with the 1948 presidential campaign of Progressive Party candidate Henry Wallace led to his dismissal from the NAACP in the fall of 1948.

During the 1950s, Du Bois’s continuing work with the international peace movement and open expressions of sympathy for the Soviet Union drew the censure of the United States government, and further isolated Du Bois from the civil rights mainstream. In 1951, at the height of the cold war, he was indicted under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938. While he was acquitted of that charge, the Department of State refused to issue Du Bois a passport in 1952, barring him from foreign travel until 1958. Once the passport ban was lifted, Du Bois and his wife, the writer Shirley Graham Du Bois, traveled extensively, visiting England, France, Belgium and Holland, as well as China and the Soviet Union, and much of the eastern bloc. On May 1, 1959, he was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize in Moscow. In 1960 Du Bois attended his friend Kwame Nkrumah’s inauguration as the first president of Ghana; the following year the Du Boises accepted Nkrumah’s invitation to move there and work on the Encyclopaedia Africana, a project that was never completed. Du Bois died at the age of 94, six months after becoming a Ghanaian citizen.

Black AMerica News

Papa John’s Scores Shaq To Help Revive Its ImageNEW YORK (AP) — Papa John’s has a new pitchman: Shaquille O’Neal. The chain says basketball Hall of Famer will appear on TV commercials and promote Papa John’s in other ways. He will also join the com [...]

Harris To Visit Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church In AtlantaATLANTA (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris is set to speak Sunday at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where Martin Luther King Jr. once occupied the pulpit. Other 2 [...]

4-Year-Old With Spina Bifida Walks For First Time As Friends Cheer Her On [Video]All kids have dreams and for Four-year-old Kenydii Parker, that dream was to walk. Kenydii’s father, Kenneth Parker, told PEOPLE she was born with Spina bifida and has been using a wheelchair. But Ken [...]

Vegas Cop Arrested For Recording Man’s Genitals, Making Mentally Ill Man TwerkA Las Vegas police officer will face felony police misconduct charges after she was caught running background checks for her friends, making racist and homophobic jokes and sharing demeaning videos of [...]

Booker Nets 1st 2020 Endorsement From S. Carolina LawmakerCOLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker has netted the first endorsement from a sitting lawmaker in the crucial early-voting state of South Carolina. State Rep. John King t [...]

16-Year-Old Accepted Into 9 Law Schools [VIDEO]Via Bossip: Another brilliant Black girl will make you deeply assess what you’re doing with your life. According to Texas Lawyer, Haley Taylor Schlitz is a 16-year-old who’s already on track to gradua [...]

Defense Expert Says Cop Went By The Book In Teen’s ShootingPITTSBURGH (AP) — East Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Rosfeld did everything by the book in his fatal encounter with an unarmed black teenager outside Pittsburgh last summer, a defense expert says. [...]

Jimmy Carter’s New Milestone: Longest-Lived US PresidentATLANTA (AP) — Nearly four decades after voters unceremoniously rejected then-President Jimmy Carter’s bid for a second term, the 39th president has reached a milestone that electoral math cannot disp [...]

Man Exonerated In Rape Case And Freed After 35 YearsBATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A man convicted of a 1982 rape in Louisiana‘s capital city walked free Thursday after 35 years in prison, following his exoneration using an updated fingerprint database. The I [...]

ACLU Sues FBI For Records Related To Black Extremists ReportSAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union sued the FBI on Thursday for records related to a divisive 2017 report that said black extremists were on the rise following the shooting deaths [...]

Trump Signs Executive Order To Protect Free Speech On College CampusesPresident Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday requiring U.S. colleges to protect free speech on their campuses or risk losing federal research funding. The new order directs federal agenci [...]

After Two Crashes, Boeing To Make Safety Feature Standard On Troubled Max JetsBoeing will make standard on its troubled new airliner a safety feature that might have helped the crew of a jet that crashed shortly after takeoff last year in Indonesia, killing everyone on board. T [...]

Keisha Lance Bottoms Announces New Probe Into Atlanta Child MurdersATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta’s mayor and police chief are leading a push to re-examine evidence from a string of murders that terrorized the city’s black community between 1979 and 1981. Mayor Keisha Lance [...]

Cyclone Idai Death Toll Up To 550 In AfricaCHIMANIMANI, Zimbabwe (AP) — Reports from the United Nations and African governments say Cyclone Idai’s death toll has risen to over 550 people. A U.N. official says Cyclone Idai has killed 242 people [...]

Prairie View A&M Student Hospitalized After Roommate Pours Bleach On HerJulisha Wyatt, 19, was taken by ambulance to the hospital after the incident caused minor burns on her body as well. [...]

Defense Asks For Cop’s Acquittal On Murder In Antwon Rose’s DeathPITTSBURGH (AP) — After prosecutors wrapped up their case, the lawyer for a white former police officer charged in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager asked a judge Thursday to issue an ac [...]

Facebook Stored Millions Of Passwords In Plain TextSAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Facebook had stored millions of user passwords in plain text for years, the social media company confirmed on Thursday after a security researcher posted about the issue online. F [...]

Black Man Detained While Moving Into His Own HomeThe Kansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday asked state officials to investigate after a black man was detained by police while moving into his home, then allegedly harassed f [...]

Brothers Charged After Shooting Pregnant Woman Standing At Bus StopTwo brothers have been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after shooting a 20-year-old pregnant woman Thursday, according to KHOU. Kwan Tayes, 21, and Nickolaus Collins, 19, were arr [...]

Mississippi Governor Set To Sign ‘Heartbeat’ Abortion LawJACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Gov. Phil Bryant says he’s not worried about lawsuits as Mississippi prepares to enact one of the strictest abortion laws in the nation. The Republican governor is scheduled to s [...]