March 1, 2018
W.E.B. Du Bois:Historian, Author,
And Civil Rights Activist
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was born in Great Barrington Massachusetts, February 23, 1868. Du Bois was an intellectual and well respected individual. He was the first African American to earn a PhD from Harvard University. He also taught history, sociology and economics at Atlanta University. He participated in the first sociological study of an African American community, The Philadelphia Negro, along with many other studies of African American life. Through his writings speaking and political activism W.E.B. Du Bois devoted his entire life to the advancement of the black movement. What makes this work historically and culturally important is the way in which it speaks out passionately and without compromise about the spirit of Negro, emphasizing their humanity and strength despite centuries of the worst oppression. Some of Du Bois more well known accomplishments include founding the NAACP and he is also known as the grandfather of the Harlem Renaissance. Du Bois first came to national attention with the publication of “ The Souls Of Black Folks”, characterized by scholar Eric J. Sundquist as “the prominent text of African American cultural consciousness.(1715)
Du Bois' essay is considered a classic because its' words can easily reflect to the modern day. Du Bois grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood. In the first chapter "Of Our Spiritual Strivings” Dubois recounts his childhood. He speaks of being “the problem” these accounts are similar to things I have experienced in my modern day life. Dubois recognizes at an early age the differences in his peers,and that these differences spanned farther than just academics. He refers to his brown skin as a veil. The veil worn by all African-Americans referred to their view of the world and its potential economic, political, and social opportunities are so vastly different from those of white people. The veil he spoke of was the manifestation as the color line. It was in the first chapter of “the souls of Black Folks “ he spoke of twoness. Later it is referred to as a double consciousness, which is the idea that negroes must be conscious of how they view themselves, as well as being aware o how the world views them. He recollects the exact moment he noticed that he was different during a class card exchange his card was rejected Du Bois wrote “Then it dawned on me with a certain suddenness that i was different than the others, shut out of their world by a vast veil.(1717) But the answer according to him was not to tear down his veil, but to succeed in spite of it. “ He would not Africanize America, For America has too much to teach the world and Africa. He would not bleach his Negro soul in a flood of white Americanism. He simply wished it possible for a man to be a Negro and an American”(1718)
Du Bois introduced the concept of the talented tenth, DuB...