Du Bois offers a unique perspective on Du Bois's experiences and views. Herbert Aptheker has provided an introduction and notes to each volume, illuminating the circumstances and identifying the personalities involved in the correspondence. A long time friend and colleague of Du Bois, Aptheker is a well-known historian of the African American experience. In and again in , he won the history award given by the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History.
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For colonial account of this shipping it describes statistical to describe message. He majored in philosophy and earned another bachelor's degree in , and he was one of only five students chosen to speak at his graduation ceremony. Du Bois stayed at Harvard another year to earn a master's degree in history and economics. Then he spent two years abroad, studying sociology and economics at the University of Berlin in Germany. During this period he also visited Switzerland, France, Austria, Italy, Hungary, and Poland, gaining a broader, more global perspective.
Du Bois's money and time ran out before he could earn a degree, however, and he returned to the United States in After a year spent teaching at Wilberforce University in Ohio, where he met and married Nina Gomer, who would be his wife until her death in , Du Bois returned to Harvard to complete his PhD. He wrote his dissertation a long essay, written to fulfill the requirements of a university degree on the African slave trade, and in he became the first black student to receive a PhD from Harvard.
In and Du Bois worked as an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania while conducting an extensive study of the African American community in Philadelphia. Du Bois personally interviewed thousands of people, producing an extremely detailed report that exposed the poverty, violence, and crime that marred his subjects' lives. No such study had ever been done before, and the published version, The Philadelphia Negro , was widely recognized as a major accomplishment.
In Du Bois accepted a position as professor of economics and history at Atlanta University, a black institution. For the next eleven years, he would be busy not only teaching but also directing a series of annual conferences titled Studies of the Negro Problem.
The conferences focused attention on issues affecting African Americans, and they brought Du Bois more recognition as a leading black scholar. In Du Bois and his wife were saddened by the death of their toddler son, Burghardt, of an intestinal illness. As time went on, Du Bois found himself more and more impatient as he waited for white society to grant equality to African Americans. He grew increasingly convinced that a passive approach was useless in the face of racism and discrimination and that blacks should use protest and activism to achieve their goals.
In Du Bois attended a Pan African Conference in London, England, where black leaders from all over the world met to discuss their common interests. This marked the beginning of Du Bois's lifelong interest in forging ties between all people of African descent, whether they lived in the United States , Europe, the Caribbean, or Africa itself. This book of fourteen essays collected Du Bois's writings on such topics as the devastating effects of racism, the remarkable resilience of black people, and the confusing sense of double consciousness experienced by those who considered themselves both black and American.
The book would prove very influential, and it would also drive an even larger wedge between Du Bois and Booker T. Washington — , another important African American leader of the early twentieth century. During the last quarter of the nineteenth century, Washington had emerged as the most prominent black leader in the United States. The founder of the Tuskegee Institute, a school where blacks received training in a number of trades and crafts, Washington advised African Americans to endure segregation and racism quietly.
They should focus, he stressed, not so much on things like higher education and voting rights as on learning how to support themselves. Economic progress would come first, and other types of equality would eventually follow. Du Bois had neither the time for nor any faith in Washington's program. He felt that African Americans should demand all of their rights immediately and unconditionally, and that any kind of compromise with white people seeking to limit black freedom would prevent further progress. He urged what he called the Talented Tenth, meaning the small minority of blacks who were well educated and economically successful, to lead the way.
African Americans were divided in their loyalties, with some remaining faithful to the familiar and beloved Washington and others agreeing with Du Bois's activist approach. A definite split came in , when Du Bois and others who felt as he did formed the Niagara Movement.
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The group met in Ontario, Canada, to express support for the complete integration of blacks into U. Washington and his supporters, who some called the "Tuskegee Machine" due to the power they wielded, opposed the movement and applied what pressure they could to weaken it. The Niagara Movement lasted for only about four years, when its members broke off to join other civil rights organizations.
The most prominent and longest-lasting of these was the NAACP still in existence in the twenty-first century , which Du Bois formed along with a number of white supporters. Du Bois hoped that the participation of whites would increase the organization's impact; in fact, he was the only black member of its board of directors. Du Bois immediately founded the journal The Crisis , which would serve as an important forum for African American voices and viewpoints. Subscription numbers grew quickly as African American readers eagerly looked to The Crisis for news, information, and opinions on matters of importance to the black community.
From the beginning, the always outspoken Du Bois had many conflicts with the other board members, who considered him excessively radical in his views. They felt Du Bois should proceed more cautiously, while he thought the NAACP should take more aggressive steps to demand equal rights for blacks. In any case, by the journal's circulation had grown to thirty thousand and it was the nation's leading black publication. Once the United States entered the war in , though, Du Bois strongly spoke out to encourage young black men to volunteer for military service. This was a way, he declared, to show the depth of African American loyalty to the nation that had been their home for more than three hundred years.
When whites saw that blacks were willing to sacrifice their own lives for the freedom of others, for the conflict was commonly known as a war "to make the world safe for democracy," they would be sure to grant African Americans the equal rights, acceptance, and expanded opportunities they desired. Several hundred thousand black soldiers did serve in the war, and in Du Bois traveled to France to chronicle their experiences. The issue of The Crisis in which his report appeared sold a record , copies.
After the war ended, Du Bois urged the returning soldiers to continue the fight for equality in their own country. This kind of talk was not welcomed by whites who were already worried about the threat of economic competition and social disruption they felt blacks posed. During the summer of , a number of bloody race riots broke out in several major U. During the Roaring Twenties Du Bois served as a kind of elder statesman to the younger writers, artists, and musicians who made up the Harlem Renaissance.
This outpouring of cultural expression and achievement, from the jazz-inflected poetry of Langston Hughes — to the African-influenced murals of Aaron Douglas — to the innovative music of Louis Armstrong —; see entry , showcased the rich culture and talent that Du Bois had long heralded. Under the direction of literary editor Jessie Redmon Fauset — , herself an accomplished novelist, The Crisis provided readers with their first look at many works produced by Harlem Renaissance writers.
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Nevertheless, relations were not smooth between Du Bois and all segments of the Harlem Renaissance. Du Bois disagreed with some of them on how they should portray the lives of black people. He sensed that the world was watching, and he wanted whites to see only the most upright, respectable aspects of African American life. That was the best way, Du Bois believed, to gain respect from whites and thus make them more inclined to grant blacks equality. Writers like Hughes and Claude McKay — , however, disagreed.
They wanted to convey the real sights, sounds, smells, and circumstances of the world around them. Therefore Hughes, for example, filled his poems with urban black dialect and nightclub scenes, while McKay's novel Home to Harlem includes characters who are prostitutes and drug users. Du Bois also carried on a running battle with Marcus Garvey — , a Jamaican immigrant who had gained a huge following through his calls for black pride and for a separate black state.
The leader of the United Negro Improvement Association UNIA , Garvey dressed in an elaborate military uniform and plumed hat, and he seemed to have much more appeal to ordinary blacks than the distant, intellectual Du Bois. Eventually, Garvey was convicted of mail fraud and sent back to Jamaica, which seemed to confirm to Du Bois that he had been right about him all along.
Du Bois's interest in the mutual concerns shared by all people of African descent led him to organize four Pan African Congresses between and Leaders and activists gathered from all over the globe to discuss ways to improve the status and circumstances of black people.
Among the most important issue of the years following World War I was what,. While W. Du Bois was a shining light to African American intellectuals and activists, Marcus Garvey appealed to many workingclass and poor blacks with his outspoken racial pride and his efforts to improve the lives of those with African descent. Frequently at odds with Du Bois, Garvey's flamboyant style and mass appeal did not win him approval from other black leaders of the day. Born in a small town in Jamaica in , Garvey had little schooling but an intense interest in politics and an awareness of the poverty and prejudice faced by blacks around the world.
The organization was dedicated to helping people of African descent, no matter where they lived. In Garvey traveled to the United States. He had long admired the work of Booker T. Washington, the African American leader who had established the Tuskegee Institute, an Alabama school where blacks learned vocational skills and trades. Garvey hoped to raise money to start a similar school in Jamaica.
He would spend most of the next decade in the United States, where his magnetic personality, outspoken racial pride, and plans for a glorious black future gained him a devoted following. Garvey soon founded a magazine called Negro World , which he used to express his views about how black progress could best be promoted. Garvey's essays urged people of African descent to be proud of their heritage and to reject racist views of their inferiority.
At the center of his beliefs was the idea that black people should join together to reclaim Africa from the European nations that had colonized the continent in earlier centuries. This concept was known as pan-Africanism. Garvey customarily dressed in a medaladorned military uniform and a plumed helmet. He appointed himself "Provisional President" of the all-black African nation he envisioned.
That evening, Garvey spoke to a crowd of twentyfive thousand followers at Madison Square Garden. Garvey's appeal to a mass audience was not matched with similar admiration from other black leaders. Du Bois in particular resented Garvey, whom he considered to be an unrealistic and dangerous fake. No one was more relieved than Du Bois when, in , Garvey was convicted of defrauding people, many of them poor, who had invested in his failed shipping company.
After several years in jail, Garvey was sent back to Jamaica. He died in Although those in attendance pushed for these colonies to become independent nations, in the end they were treated as spoils to be divided among the European countries that had been victorious in the war Great Britain , Italy, and France. Witnessing the widespread hardship of the s, when the economic downturn known as the Great Depression —41 brought unemployment to millions, Du Bois became increasingly unhappy with the U.
His ideas became more and more radical as he began moving away from the idea that African Americans should depend on white society for help. Instead, Du Bois began to advocate for black social, economic, and educational institutions. To the NAACP's board of directors, this sounded dangerously similar to segregation, which they had always strongly opposed. In , after serving for twenty-four years as the editor of The Crisis , Du Bois was forced to retire from his position.
Du Bois returned to Atlanta University as chair of the sociology department and editor of a sociology journal called Phylon , with a special focus on the effects of racism. He also began traveling abroad to countries that offered different perspectives, such as Communist Russia and China. In he was forced into retirement from Atlanta. It is likely that the board of directors expected this to be an essentially ceremonial position for Du Bois, who was then seventy-seven years old.
But that is not how he treated it, returning once again to his outspoken advocacy of extreme positions. Once again, in , he was forced out. Du Bois made an unsuccessful bid for a U. Senate seat as the candidate of the American Labor Party in Throughout the s he was involved in exploring alternatives to capitalism a system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private interests, for profit , especially communism where all property is owned by the community and each person contributes and receives according to his or her ability and needs and socialism where the means of production, distribution, and exchange are owned by the community as a whole.
At this time in U. The fear that the United States itself could be invaded by Communists led to an atmosphere of suspicion and even paranoia, most dramatically demonstrated in the congressional hearings chaired by Senator Joseph McCarthy — Du Bois's Communist leanings and activism got him into trouble with the U. In November , after Du Bois had circulated a petition to ban nuclear weapons , he was charged with failing to register as an agent of a foreign country.
Du Bois was acquitted found not guilty , but he became even more disillusioned with the United States. At around the same time, the passports of Du Bois and his wife Shirley Graham his first wife had died in were seized, which meant they could not travel outside the United States; the documents were not returned until In he was invited by President Kwame Nkrumah — to move to Ghana, a West African country that had recently won its independence.
Du Bois accepted the invitation, but before he left he made the pointed gesture of officially joining the Communist Party. He also gave up his U. This historic event was attended by more than two hundred thousand people, who gathered to call for full equal rights and opportunities for African Americans. As the news of Du Bois's death passed through the crowd, those assembled acknowledged his role in the struggle for civil rights.
As quoted in Manning Marable's W. Lewis, David Leavering. DuBois: Biography of a Race, — New York: Henry Holt , Rudwick, Elliott. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, Hynes, Gerald C. A Biographical Sketch of W. Accessed on June 22, Reuben, Paul R. Accessed on June 22, Sociologist, civil rights activist, writer, and editor. Du Bois is considered the greatest African American intellectual and civil rights activist of the twentieth century.
He was among the first to call for full and unconditional equal rights for people of color. A social scientist by education and training, Du Bois carefully documented the historical and social truths of black people's lives as well as the realities of the harsh conditions they endured. But he did not limit himself to social science , for he was also notable as a writer of nonfiction, fiction, and poetry , an editor, and the organizer of several Pan-African Congresses that highlighted the common interests of all people of African descent.
Du Bois played an important role in the Harlem Renaissance by providing guidance, inspiration, and real opportunities for talented young blacks: he opened the pages of the Crisis, the influential magazine he edited, to the work of the period's most promising young authors and artists. Du Bois's ancestors were of mixed European and African ancestry, but his family had always identified itself as black. His father, Alfred Du Bois, left soon after his son's birth, and his mother, Mary Salvina Burghardt, struggled thereafter to support herself and her son on wages she earned as a maid.
But Willie the nickname given to Du Bois by his mother helped out with money he earned by doing odd jobs such as delivering groceries and selling newspapers. By the time he was fifteen years old, Du Bois had also become a reporter, contributing articles on Great Barrington's black community to two black newspapers, the Springfield Republican and the New York Globe.
The only African American in his high school class of fifteen, Du Bois was a brilliant student. Soon after his high school graduation, his mother died. Du Bois received a scholarship to Fisk University one of the nation's leading black colleges in Nashville, Tennessee. There, he studied a variety of subjects, including classical literature, German, Greek, Latin, philosophy, chemistry, and physics, and he edited the university's literary magazine, the Fisk Herald. At Fisk, for the first time, Du Bois experienced the brutal realities of southern racism and the Jim Crow laws which enforced segregation or separation of blacks and whites that kept African Americans from becoming full citizens.
Du Bois reacted by rarely leaving the Fisk campus and avoiding places like movie theaters and streetcars where blacks had to sit in separate seating. Some of his friends later said that during this period of his life, Du Bois became more reserved and withdrawn—qualities that would later make him seem cold and distant.
While he was studying at Fisk, Du Bois spent his summers teaching at schools in rural black communities in eastern Tennessee. His experiences strongly influenced the course of his life. Working in schools that lacked even the most basic supplies and witnessing the harsh conditions in which the people around him lived, Du Bois developed a greater awareness of African Americans ' problems and suffering. At the same time, he recognized their strength in withstanding troubles, and he appreciated the people's rich cultural tradition of songs especially spirituals or religious songs and stories.
After graduating from Fisk in , Du Bois went on to Harvard University , studying history and social sciences. He earned a bachelor's degree with honors in and a master's degree in At his commencement, Du Bois was one of only five students in the graduating class to be chosen to deliver a speech. His excellent academic record earned him a scholarship to study overseas, and he spent two years — at the University of Berlin in Germany, focusing on history, economics, and politics.
Du Bois's money ran out before he could finish a degree, but he managed to travel throughout Europe and returned to the United States with a more global perspective than he had had before. In Du Bois became a professor of classics at Wilber-force University, a black institution in Ohio. He stayed only a year, but during that time he met and married Nina Gomer, who would be his wife for fifty-three years until her death in Then he returned to Harvard to complete his doctoral degree in sociology, writing his dissertation on "The Suppression of the African Slave Trade to the United States , The next year he became an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania.
While teaching at Pennsylvania, Du Bois produced a major work called The Philadelphia Negro, one of the first scientifically conducted social studies ever done in the United States and the first in-depth analysis of a black community. Du Bois studied the conditions of poverty, violence, and crime that plagued Philadelphia's African Americans, and he interviewed thousands of people, creating a stunningly detailed report. Du Bois was to teach sociology and also direct a series of annual conferences on issues important to African Americans.
Entitled Studies of the Negro Problem, the series was a great success and helped make Du Bois a nationally known figure. Du Bois had long believed that if the realities of racially based hatred, discrimination, and injustice were exposed, whites would quickly take steps to end them. As time went on, however, he became more and more convinced that exposing the problem would make no difference—that only protest and activism would produce results.
He was also developing a philosophy of "pan-Africanism," the belief that all people of African descent had common interests and should work together to help each other. In not long after the tragic death of his only son, three-year-old Burghardt, of an intestinal ailment Du Bois attended the first meeting of the Pan-African Association in Europe, at which a group of over thirty activists discussed goals similar to his.
The group disbanded after two years, but Du Bois continued to believe in the tenets principles, beliefs, or teachings of pan-Africanism. The event that catapulted Du Bois to the forefront of African American politics and thought was the publication of his influential book The Souls of Black Folk. A collection of fourteen essays some of them previously published in other places that highlights Du Bois's intellectual brilliance as well as his passionate ideals, the book describes the damaging effects of racism, celebrates the resilience of black people, and captures what it was like to be an African American at a time when violence and discrimination against blacks had increased to astonishing levels.
Du Bois described blacks as having to struggle with a kind of double consciousness: "One ever feels his two-ness, an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder. Washington — , who had been the most prominent black leader of the post- Civil War period.
The founder of the Tuskegee Institute, where blacks were taught practical skills to help them support themselves, Washington encouraged African Americans to put up with discrimination while slowly making economic advances. Racial equality would come not through protest and higher education, Washington argued, but through vocational training and patience. Du Bois, on the other hand, believed that blacks should demand full equal rights, and he called on the "Talented Tenth"—the best educated and most successful members of African American society—to lead the way.
Compromising with whites who want to restrict black freedoms, Du Bois insisted, would never end racism and could even hold up racial progress. This philosophical difference split the black community into two factions: many blacks remained loyal to Washington, while those with higher ambitions and less patience sided with Du Bois. In Du Bois and other like-minded activists founded the Niagara Movement, a group committed to demanding full equal rights for blacks.
But Washington's influence was too great, and the Niagara Movement fell apart after four years, as its former members joined other groups. One of these other groups would turn out to be the strongest and longest-lived African American organization of the twentieth century.
In Du Bois joined with a group of white social workers and reformers having decided that an interracial approach was best, to attract white financial backers to form the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People NAACP. Still in existence today, the organization set out to fight for equality by trying race-related legal cases, lobbying legislators talking to senators and members of Congress to persuade them to support or block particular laws , and providing public information. The only black member of the NAACP's board of directors, Du Bois was named director of publicity and research, and he immediately founded and became editor of The Crisis, a magazine that would be the group's mouthpiece.
Du Bois set to work to make Crisis a forum for African American ideas. It served as a place for many voices to proclaim the arrival of a new spirit of pride and a new determination to resist injustice. His own writings in the magazine were bold and forceful as he led the way toward what would soon be called the New Negro movement. By the circulation of Crisis had grown to thirty thousand, and readers eagerly awaited the publication of each issue. When the United States entered World War I —18 , which was supposedly being fought in defense of global democratic ideals, African Americans were divided in their opinions about it.
Some felt that blacks should refuse to participate in the conflict since they had been denied democratic rights in their own country, while others felt that taking part would show how loyal blacks were to the United States. At first Du Bois was opposed to the war and thought the United States should stay out of it altogether, but when the United States did become involved, he urged blacks to join the fight. He hoped that if African Americans showed they were willing to die for their country, their country would grant them the rights they had long been denied.
In Du Bois traveled to France to report on the heroism of some of the thousands of black soldiers who had fought there. The issue of Crisis in which this story appeared sold a record-breaking , copies. At the end of the war, the African American soldiers who had risked their lives in defense of democracy returned to a country in which racism and discrimination continued to exist. Violence against blacks—especially in the form of lynchings or mob-type hangings of blacks —had actually increased during the first two decades of the twentieth century. Du Bois used the pages of Crisis to urge returning soldiers and other blacks to continue the fight they had begun—the fight for equality.
When the summer of brought a bloody series of race riots see Chapter 1 as blacks reacted to earlier violence perpetrated against them, some blamed Du Bois for stirring up anger with his passionate and defiant words. With the s came the cultural explosion known as the Harlem Renaissance, a period of great creative achievement that Du Bois, through his insistence on black pride and accomplishment, helped to begin and continued to nurture.
In addition to simply inspiring the young black writers, artists, and performers of the Harlem Renaissance through his example and his eloquent words, Du Bois gave them material support and, in many cases, personal encouragement. He opened the pages of Crisis to their work, hiring a sharp young writer and editor, Jessie Redmon Fauset —; see biographical entry , as literary editor and providing a place where new writings and art could be seen by a wide audience. The s were years not only of accomplishment but of conflict for Du Bois. He often clashed with the younger generation of Harlem Renaissance writers and artists who did not share his views.
Du Bois and his Talented Tenth felt that black literature, entertainment, and art should portray blacks only as accomplished and respectable; the younger members of the movement insisted on a broader representation of African American life, even if it meant exposing Harlem's seamy underside of drinking, sex, and violence.
Du Bois also carried on a battle of words with Marcus Garvey — , the Jamaican-born black nationalist leader who had built a huge following among ordinary African Americans. Garvey delivered a strong message of black pride and championed the establishment of a separate black state. Du Bois considered Garvey a dangerous fake, so he was no doubt among those greatly relieved when Garvey was convicted of mail fraud and forced to leave the United States.
Part of the tension between Du Bois and Garvey was probably due to a major difference in the men's personalities and public appeal. Garvey's flamboyance he normally wore fancy military uniforms and plumed hats made him popular with common people, while the usually unsmiling Du Bois was seen by many as an arrogant, condescending elitist.
Elitists are people who act snobbish or superior because of their advanced education or influential position. Du Bois's closest friends claimed that he could be warm—and even funny—but he never showed this side of his personality to strangers.
The Correspondence of W.E.B. Du Bois: Selections, by W.E.B. Du Bois
All through the s Du Bois continued to work on his pan-Africanist goals, organizing four Pan-African Congresses between and These meetings brought together black leaders from the United States, Africa, the Caribbean, and Europe. At the first one, held soon after the end of World War I , Du Bois and the others pushed for the independence of the African colonies that had been ruled by Germany; since Germany had lost the war, the fate of these colonies was unresolved. Ultimately, the ideas of the Pan-African Congress were ignored, and the colonies were divided between the European winners of the war.
Over the years Du Bois grew more and more disappointed as all his efforts to promote racial progress and equality seemed to fail. Meanwhile, he found himself in frequent conflict with the mostly white leadership of the NAACP, who often felt he expressed his views too strongly. He was slowly moving away from integrationism the idea that blacks and whites must live together, with the same rights and responsibilities and eventually expressed his belief that African Americans should depend on each other more than on white people, both economically and socially.
That same year Du Bois returned to Atlanta University as chairman of the sociology department. In addition to teaching, he founded and edited Phylon, a social science journal that focused on race relations. In Du Bois took a trip abroad and had a chance to compare U. He was especially impressed with the communist in which all property is owned by the community as a whole government and socialist in which the means of producing and distributing goods are shared by citizens of the country or owned by the government values of the Soviet Union. Du Bois was beginning to see this kind of political system as the only kind that could overcome poverty and racism.
The organization's leaders may have assumed that the seventy-seven-year-old Du Bois would take a less active role than he had before, but this was not the case. Instead, he quickly became as outspoken as ever, and by the NAACP voted to force his resignation. Two years later Du Bois ran unsuccessfully for the U. Senate as the candidate of the American Labor Party.
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Throughout the s Du Bois repeatedly ran into trouble with the U. At this point in American history, anticommunist sentiment intensified in response to the growing strength of communist countries like the Soviet Union and China; some people were afraid that the United States might be threatened by a communist takeover.
In November Du Bois was tried in a U. He was found innocent, but the experience left him with an even more negative feeling about the United States. In addition, because of his links to communist groups, Du Bois's passport—along with that of his second wife, writer Shirley Graham, whom he had married in —was seized, and he was not allowed to leave the country until In Du Bois decided to accept an invitation from Ghana's president, Kwame Nkrumah — , to move to that newly independent West African country, where he would begin work on a history of Africa to be called Encyclopedia Africana.
The Correspondence of W.E.B. Du Bois, Volume II: Selections, 1934-1944
In his application to the organization, Du Bois stated, "I have been long and slow in coming to this conclusion, but at last my mind is settled Capitalism [the economic system of the United States, in which property and means of production are privately owned] cannot reform itself, it is doomed to self-destruction.
Du Bois became a citizen of Ghana in , and he died there the next year at the age of ninety-five. Revered in that country as a hero of black people, he was given a grand state funeral and buried on the grounds of Ghana's government house. The day after his death happened to be the day of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, when more than two hundred thousand people gathered in the U.
The news of the great black leader's death spread quickly throughout the crowd, and NAACP leader Roy Wilkins made note of Du Bois's contribution to African American history, reminding those present that "at the dawn of the twentieth century, his was the voice that was calling to you to gather here today in this cause. Hamilton, Virginia. Du Bois: A Biography. New York : Crowell, Lewis, David Levering.
Du Bois: Biography of a Race, — Rampersad, Arnold. The Art and Imagination of W. Reuben, Paul P. His mother, Mary Burghardt Du Bois, belonged to a tiny community of African Americans who had been settled in the area since before the American Revolution ; his father, Alfred Du Bois, was a visitor to the region who deserted the family in his son's infancy. In the predominantly white local schools and Congregational church, Du Bois absorbed ideas and values that left him "quite thoroughly New England. From to Du Bois attended Fisk University in Nashville, where he first encountered the harsher forms of racism.
After earning a B. From to he studied history and sociology at the University of Berlin. Gomer, a student, in The couple had two children, Burghardt and Yolande. In he accepted a position at the University of Pennsylvania to gather data for a commissioned study of blacks in Philadelphia. This work resulted in The Philadelphia Negro , an acclaimed early example of empirical sociology. From to he edited an annual study of one aspect or another of black life, such as education or the church.
Appalled by the conditions facing blacks nationally, Du Bois sought ways other than scholarship to effect change. The death of his young son from dysentery in also deeply affected him, as did the widely publicized lynching of a black man, Sam Hose, in Georgia the same year. In , in London, he boldly asserted that "the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line.
The book also attacked Booker T. Washington, the most powerful black American of the age, for advising blacks to surrender the right to vote and to a liberal education in return for white friendship and support. Du Bois was established as probably the premier intellectual in black America, and Washington's main rival. Du Bois's growing radicalism also led him to organize the Niagara Movement, a group of blacks who met in and to agitate for "manhood rights" for African Americans.
He founded two journals, Moon — and Horizon — In he published John Brown , a sympathetic biography of the white abolitionist martyr. Then in he resigned his professorship to join the new National Association for the Advancement of Colored People NAACP in New York , which had been formed in response to growing concern about the treatment of blacks. As its director of research, Du Bois founded a monthly magazine, The Crisis. In he published his first novel, The Quest of the Silver Fleece , a study of the cotton industry seen through the fate of a young black couple struggling for a life of dignity and meaning.
The Crisis became a powerful forum for Du Bois's views on race and politics. Meanwhile, his developing interest in Africa led him to write The Negro , a study offering historical and demographic information on peoples of African descent around the world. However, he clashed with the most popular black leader of the era, Marcus Garvey of the Universal Negro Improvement Association.
Du Bois regarded Garvey's "back to Africa" scheme as ill considered and Garvey as impractical and disorganized. Du Bois's second prose collection, Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil , did not repeat the success of The Souls of Black Folk but captured his increased militancy. In the s The Crisis played a major role in the Harlem Renaissance by publishing early work by Langston Hughes , Countee Cullen , and other writers. Eventually, Du Bois found some writers politically irresponsible; his essay "Criteria of Negro Art" insisted that all art is essentially propaganda.
He pressed this point with a novel, Dark Princess , about a plot by the darker races to overthrow European colonialism. In he visited the Soviet Union , then nine years old. Favorably impressed by what he saw, he boldly declared himself "a Bolshevik. The Great Depression increased Du Bois's interest in socialism but also cut the circulation of The Crisis and weakened his position with the leadership of the NAACP, with which he had fought from the beginning.
In he resigned as editor and returned to teach at Atlanta University. His interest in Marxism, which had started with his student days in Berlin, dominated his next book, Black Reconstruction in America , a massive and controversial revaluation of the role of the freedmen in the South after the Civil War. In Du Bois commenced a weekly column of opinion in various black newspapers, starting with the Pittsburgh Courier. In Du Bois published his first full-length autobiography, Dusk of Dawn: An Essay Toward an Autobiography of a Race Concept , in which he examined modern racial theory against the major events and intellectual currents in his lifetime.
In his life took another dramatic turn when he was suddenly retired by Atlanta University after tension grew between him and certain administrators. In , when he endorsed the Progressive Party and its presidential candidate, Henry Wallace , he was fired. He then joined Paul Robeson , who was by this time firmly identified with radical socialism, at the Council on African Affairs, which had been officially declared a "subversive" organization.
In Du Bois ran unsuccessfully for the U. Also that year, in another move applauded by communists, he accepted the chairmanship of the Peace Information Center, which circulated the Stockholm Peace Appeal against nuclear weapons. Early in Du Bois and four colleagues from the Peace Information Center were indicted on the charge of violating the law that required agents of a foreign power to register. On bail and awaiting trial, he married Shirley Lola Graham, a fellow socialist and writer his first wife had died in