William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, known simply as W.E.B. Du Bois, was born in Massachusetts on February 23, 1868. He was an intelligent man who stood for equal rights and the advancement of blacks. Coming from a predominately white town and schooling where he was nurtured, received support, and identified himself as a “mullatto”, Du Bois moved to Nashville Tennesse in 1885 to attend Fisk University. If he had ever wondered what it was like to be hated for the mere color of your skin – living in Tennesse provided him with that experience. “For the first time he began analyzing the deep troubles of American racism,” (biography.com).
Du Bois began to focus his attention on the advancement of blacks – through his accomplishments and efforts, his popularity rose significantly over the years.
- Du Bois became the first African-American to earn a PhD from Harvard University in 1895
- Du Bois became the first publisher of an African American case study in 1899 with the study The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study** This study was the first significant piece that began his writing career. ** The talented tenth phrase was introduced in this study – which is “a term that described the likelihood of one in ten black men becoming leaders of their race,” (bio.com).
- Du Bois nationally became known after publicly expressing ill thoughts toward Booker T. Washington’s Atlanta Exposition Speech, or as Du Bois called it, the “Atlanta Compromise”. **Washington believed that in order for blacks to advance, they must focus on getting a vocational education as to help them in the workforce which would then enable them to provide for their family. So he urged blacks to not work towards political goals-leave politics to white people, just as long as the blacks were given opportunities to work and a due process in court – separate but equal was A-ok. Du Bois strongly disagreed; he felt this was yet another method that would keep blacks inferior and dependent (much like sharecropping). He advocated equality, so whatever it was whites did, blacks should have the right to strive for, under the 14th amendment.
- Author of The Souls of Black Folk
- He was a known supporter of women’s rights
- Du Bois co founded NAACP in 1909 and had a big role in the making of the organization’s magazine, The Crisis
- Later, Du Bois moved to Africa where he also helped in the advancement of African colonies by aiding in their freedom from European rule
- Du Bois died at the age of 95, on August 27, 1963, one day shy of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech
“The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.”
“A classic is a book that doesn’t have to be written again.”
– W.E.B. Du Bois
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