W.E.B. DuBois


Du Bois young

There are some historical icons that can’t be avoided! My aim was to profile those in our rich past that are not often spoken of. To bring to you new inspiration of attachment to those that are of the same blood, that have become a credit to our race and to the “race of humanity”. Also, my goal with the 29 days of profiles in our Black History Month, was to give you, in chronological order, the people and movements of our progression. From not even being view as humans, as “CHATTLE”, to the seat of the most powerful position as the leader of the “Free World”! Those who spilled blood and changed our position in America.

One such man, perhaps one of the smartest and most dignified of our whole race, is Mr. William Edward Burghartdt “W.E.B.” Du Bois. He said, “The cost of liberty is less than the price of our repression. A little less complaint and whining and a little more dogged work and mainly striving, would do us more credit than a thousand civil rights bills. Believe in life! Always, human beings will live and progress to greater, broader and fuller life”.

The importance of his contribution to our race and the Civil Rights movement was invaluable to the progression of our people. He was the organizer and co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the very important, earlier organization called the Niagara Movement.

I am pleased to introduce the cream of our race. W.E.B Du Bois was born February 23, 1868 and died August 27, 1963. He lived 95 years and his ambition brought the next stage of the civil rights movement. His lived long enough to see his work bare fruit! To his credit, he was a journalist, educator, civil rights activist and to me, the rebirth of the exceptional and multi-talented Benjamin Banneker. Just as Martin Luther King Jr., Du Bois picked up the energy of the civil rights cause. It has to be noted that Du Bois was a strong supporter of Pan Americanism.

Du Bois was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. His mother, Mary Silvina Burghardts’s family was part of the very small free black population of Great Barrington and had long owned land in the state. She was known to everyone as “Nee Burghardt”. His father’s named was Alfred Burghardt. Having a family name in the community afforded young Du Bois respect and a general acceptance (the power of land/home ownership). He attended the local integrated public school where his teachers recognized his abilities and encouraged his intellectual pursuits.

Young Du Bois believed he could use sheer knowledge to empower African Americans. He attended college by the community, mainly the European community, of Great Barrington. His childhood church, the First Congregational Church, raised the money for his tuition. Du Bois attended Fisk University, a historically black college in Nashville, Tennessee where he became familiar, for the first time, with southern racism. Jim Crow Laws, bigotry, suppression of black voting and lynchings. After he obtained his bachelor’s degree, he attended Harvard University, whom at the time, did not accept course credits from Fisk College. In 1895, he became the first African American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard.

In the summer of 1894, Du Bois received several job offers, including one from the prestigious Tuskegee Institute. He accepted a teaching job at Wilberforce University in Ohio (surprisingly). The beliefs, ideas and morals that the University stood for were necessary tools to effect social change, which appealed to Du Bois.

He published a landmark study of African American history, “The Philadelphia Negro”, a social study look at African Americans in 1899. In this study, he coined the phrase “the talented tenth”, a term that described the likelihood of one in ten black men becoming leaders of our race.

Yet, while working as a professor at Atlanta University, Du Bois rose to racial and national prominence by opposing the sell-out views of Booker T. Washington, whom had become the voice of whites thru a black leader. Du Bois strongly opposed Washington’s Atlanta compromise. Du Bois and the newly founded Niagara Movement that he and co-founder Monroe Trotter created, fought hard to undo the mentality of Washington’s stance. He openly and strongly criticized Washington for not demanding equality for African Americans, as granted by the 14th amendment. Du Bois fought what he believed, was an inferior strategy.

In 1908, after reign of terror meant to discourage the Niagara Movement, the atrocities provoked national indignation and touched the heart of many whites. One of those being William English Walling. He formed an organization on behalf of negroes, joined with blacks, including Du Bois. They formed the National Negro Committee which changed its name in 1910, to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Its objective was to promote equality of rights and eradicate caste or race prejudice and an anti-Washington position to protect blacks with laws already in place. You know the significance of the NAACP. Meet its Director and editor of the magazine, The Crisis, Du Bois. The magazine directed a constant stream of agitation, often bitter and sarcastic at white Americans, while serving as a source of information and pride to African Americans. The magazine always published young African American writers. During World War I, the NAACP was the leading protest group and Du Bois was its leading figure.

Du Bois was a member of the socialist party and always considered himself a socialist and supporter of the Pan Africanism movement. As a scholar, his most lasting contribution was in his writings. A poet, play write, novelist, essayist, sociologist, historian and journalist, he wrote 21 books and published over 100 essays and articles. His work you MUST READ is “The Soul of Black Folks”.
He is the benchmark, the bridge of the earliest of our movement. Yet, touched our leaps in civil rights movement we understand today.

Du Bois died in Ghana on August 27, 1963.

Product of HIM. We all are – KJS
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NAACP Du Bois old