Join us for a pivotal collection of the works of one of the greatest African-American intellectuals, one of the most popular and studied works of all time. W.E.B. Du Bois was a sociologist, historian, novelist, activist, educator, and humanitarian, whose life spanned from Reconstruction to the Civil Rights Movement. Originally published in 1903, this is a study of race, culture, and education, with a combination of essays, poems, memoirs, and fiction, making a forceful case for the rights of Black culture.
About the Author
William Edward Burghardt (W.E.B.) Du Bois was born on February 23, 1868 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, the great-great grandson of a former slave and Revolutionary War soldier. When he was two, his father left the family, and his mother dies when he was 17. William attended public school, where he was encouraged in his intellectual pursuits. He attended Fisk University, in Nashville, Tennessee, from 1885 to 1888, after his childhood church donated money toward his tuition. It was during this time that he first experienced Southern racism. After receiving his Bachelor's Degree, he attended Harvard College until 1890. In 1891, he received a scholarship to attend the sociology graduate school at Harvard, then a fellowship to attend the University of Berlin. In 1895, he became the first Black person to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard. After that, he accepted various teaching positions in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Atlanta. In 1899, he wrote "The Philadelphia Negro," a study of the Black population of Philadelphia. After writing "The Souls of Black Folk" in 1903, which became a ground-breaking work, he continued to write prolifically, then helped to found the NAACP in 1910, where he edited their monthly magazine, "The Crisis." During World War I, Du Bois was instrumental in getting more than 600 Black officers into the Army. He received a commission into the Army himself, and after the war, wrote about the experiences of the soldiers. By 1934, William had decided that separate, but equal was an acceptable goal, and resigned from the NAACP. In 1945, he was part of a three-person delegation at the conference at which the United Nations was established. During the 1950s, the anti-communist movement targeted Du Bois because of his socialist leanings. He was put on trial in 1951, and though the case was dismissed, his passport was withheld for 8 years. In 1950, he ran for U.S. Senator, and received about 200,000 votes. In 1961, at the age of 93, he joined the Communist Party, believing that, though the system wasn't perfect, it had eliminated race and prejudice. Du Bois journeyed to Ghana in 1961 to work on an encyclopedia. While there, the U.S. once again refused to renew his passport, so he became a citizen of Ghana, where he died on August 27, 1963, at the age of 95, months before The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed.