Black History Month- W.E.B DuBois

 

 

-February 23, 1868- August 27, 1963

-American sociologist, the most important black protest leader in the United States during the first half of the 20th century.

-For more than a decade he devoted himself to sociological investigations of blacks in America, producing 16 research monographs published between 1897 and 1914 at Atlanta (Georgia) University, where he was a professor, as well as The Philadelphia Negro; A Social Study (1899), the first case study of a black community in the United States.

-He was indicted in 1951 as an unregistered agent for a foreign power but was acquitted and moved to Ghana where he remained until his death in 1963.

-He shared in the creation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909 and edited The Crisis, its magazine, from 1910 to 1934. Late in life he became identified with communist causes.

-He graduated from Fisk University, a black institution at Nashville, Tennessee, in 1888. He received a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1895. His doctoral dissertation, The Suppression of the African Slave-Trade to the United States of America, 1638–1870, was published in 1896.

-Although Du Bois had originally believed that social science could provide the knowledge to solve the race problem, he gradually came to the conclusion that in a climate of virulent racism, expressed in such evils as lynching, peonage, disfranchisement, Jim Crow segregation laws, and race riots, social change could be accomplished only through agitation and protest.

-In 1903, in his famous book The Souls of Black Folk, Du Bois charged that Washington’s strategy, rather than freeing the black man from oppression, would serve only to perpetuate it. This attack crystallized the opposition to Booker T. Washington among many black intellectuals, polarizing the leaders of the black community into two wings—the “conservative” supporters of Washington and his “radical” critics.

-Two years later, in 1905, Du Bois took the lead in founding the Niagara Movement, which was dedicated chiefly to attacking the platform of Booker T. Washington.

-Du Bois’s black nationalism took several forms—the most influential being his pioneering advocacy of Pan-Africanism, the belief that all people of African descent had common interests and should work together in the struggle for their freedom. Du Bois was a leader of the first Pan-African Conference in London in 1900 and the architect of four Pan-African Congresses held between 1919 and 1927.

-Second, he articulated a cultural nationalism. As the editor of The Crisis, he encouraged the development of black literature and art and urged his readers to see “Beauty in Black.” Third, Du Bois’s black nationalism is seen in his belief that blacks should develop a separate “group economy” of producers’ and consumers’ cooperatives as a weapon for fighting economic discrimination and black poverty.

-He resigned from the editorship of The Crisis and the NAACP in 1934, yielding his influence as a race leader and charging that the organization was dedicated to the interests of the black bourgeoisie and ignored the problems of the masses.

-Upon leaving the NAACP, he returned to Atlanta University, where he devoted the next 10 years to teaching and scholarship. In 1940 he founded the magazine Phylon, Atlanta University’s “Review of Race and Culture.” In 1945 he published the “Preparatory Volume” of a projected encyclopaedia of the black, for which he had been appointed editor in chief. He also produced two major books during this period. Black Reconstruction: An Essay Toward a History of the Part Which Black Folk Played in the Attempt to Reconstruct Democracy in America

-In 1961 he joined the Communist Party and, moving to Ghana, renounced his American citizenship more than a year later. The Autobiography of W.E.B. Du Bois was published in 1968.

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