Civil Rights Activist, Author, & Sociologist
Early Life and College Years
- First learned about Black repression after reading the Jim Crow Laws at Fisk University.
- This led Du Bois to campaign for equality between Blacks and Whites, initially
- Later he morphed his revolts into equality for all, regardless of race, gender, class, etc.
- High school principal, Frank Hosmer- He encouraged Du Bois, during his high school years, to pursue extensive reading and provided scholarship aid from local luminaries.
- Historian, Albert Bushnell Hart- heavily influenced Du Bois through his historical work. Later became great friends with and a professional mentor of Du Bois.
- Philosopher and Psychologist, William James- Influenced Du Bois through his philosophical lectures. Also was great friends and a professional mentor of Du Bois.
- Education was a large influence in WEB Du Bois's life because it led him to understand that knowledge is essential for a person.
"Ignorance is the cure for nothing."
- Du Bois spread his cause through the use of literature, for example: The Philadelphia Negro, The Souls of Black Folk, The Crisis.
- He wrote his first study in The Philadelphia Negro, in which he collected a series of data and statistics of the African- American Community.
- Coined the terms "double- consciousness" and "the talented- tenth"
- He became a large supporter of women's rights and wrote the Souls of Black Folk, 14 essays which depicted his views on the biological and political equality of people.
- Co- founded the NAACP ( National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) and became the editor of its magazine, the Crisis
- Due to disagreements over integration with the NAACP, Du Bois resigned from the association.
- He later returned to become a director of special research from 1944- 1948
- He wrote the famous An Appeal to the Nation
- A strong supporter of Pan- Africanism, Du Bois would initiate several Pan- African Congresses to help liberate African colonies from European nations.
- He did not appreciate the fraud of Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican Black nationalist, but played no part in his jailing.
- He traveled to China, which resulted in his passport being annulled
- Due to his second wife Shirley Graham, he ensued an interest in Communist and leftist socialism.
- Due to the NAACP's views of Communism, Du Bois was kicked out of the committee for the second time
W.E.B Du Bois with Burghardt Gomer Du Bois and Nina
W.E.B Du Bois with six other Harvard graduates
One of the many covers of the Crisis magazine edited by Du Bois.
Conflict with Booker T. Washington
- Du Bois first publicly opposed Washington during the "Atlanta Compromise", a speech delivered by Washington which stated that Blacks should submit themselves as inferior to Whites, and be happy with the education and freedom in law.
- Although he did initially agree that Blacks should receive economic opportunities, he did not agree that political and social liberties should be given up
- Du Bois believed that Blacks should receive full equality to Whites. Due to this, he became a spokesperson for equality for every person's life, not just Black people.
Later Life and Death
- Traveled to Ghana to join Kwame Nkumrah on a project
- He aspired to create the "Encyclopedia Africana" in Ghana
- The Ghanian government had to work strenuously to revalidate his passport
- Died August 27, 1963 in Accra, Ghana and was given a state state funeral
- Occurred the day before Martin Luther King Junior's I Have a Dream speech
W.E.B. Du Bois
Ralph McGill wrote for the Atlantic Monthly about a time he had spent with Du Bois, which led him to realize that Du Bos is not as strong as his policies and words are. At the inception of their conversation, Du Bois immediately brought to McGill’s attention about a lynched man he had to witness on his way to see a Joel Harris. This statement had brought a silence around the room as the narrator recalls what had occurred prior to their conference. McGill shows his views on the matter of Du Bois’s personality; although his policies have brought great change and more freedom for African people, Du Bois was never truly happy, but rather conveyed a broken, old nature. Du Bois is cloaked in resentment. He was so infuriated about the lynched man he had to see that he did not complete his chore. McGill portrays Du Bois as sentimental man, who does not wish to see any pain in the world. By using diction that holds a negative connotation, McGill creates a somber and dire tone within his piece of writing. The writing then ensues talking about the conflict between Du Bois and Booker T. Washington. As McGill questions Du Bois about the leading Civil Rights leaders, Du Bois explains that Washington was one of the few people who had his mind on the right place pertaining to abolishing segregation. Du Bois explains that despite their difference in opinions, Washington is a good, sincere man. By acknowledging this, McGill shows to the audience that Du Bois was a man to judge people on their character rather than their opinions or beliefs. This admiration of Washington led McGill to question Du Bois more on why they were enemies. Du Bois explains that Washington was aiming for economic success where blacks could be taught skills, and as the small class grew they would ultimately be considered as good enough. McGill continues to characterize Du Bois as arrogant and stubborn ; however, he also describes Du Bois as a dreamer who envisioned a future in which the “talented tenth” would lead to full equality for African- American people. Overall, McGill conveys Du Bois as a man who has been broken from all his experiences through losing. Despite all the positive influence he has allotted in the world, he he was embittered and morose. This was the case for most of his life, but his irascibility is what prompted such great work to come from him because he was able to place all his emotion in his writing. And, although he did come off as sullen, he fantasized of a world in which all individuals thrived in equity.