Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Civil Rights Advocate: W.E.B Du Bois

William Edward Burghardt (W.E.B) Du Bois was born on February 23, 1868 in Great Barrington Massachusetts.  He was born to Alfred and Mary DuBois. 

Have you ever heard this famous passage from the Forethought of his book The Souls Of Black Folk "The problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line."  This was one of the most profound statements of the entire book.   The Souls Of Black Folk is a collection of essays written by Debois in 1903, discussing and analysing a variety of subjects on the topic of black life.  Du Bois also challenged one of the most notable black thinkers of the time in this book, Booker T. Washington.

W.E.B DuBois was the first African-American to graduate from Harvard University in 1895, which I find to be amazing.  He graduated with a PH. D. in history and went on to teach sociology at Atlanta University.  Being in the south during the years of 1898-1910, Du Bois could see first hand the effects of the Jim Crow laws and felt compelled to do something about it.  He founded a organization called the Niagara Movement to advocate for the rights of blacks.  Even though this organization was short-lived, it was the precursor to a famous organization that I'm sure you've heard of, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which was founded in 1909.  As a founding member of the NAACP, DeBois also took the lead as the lead researcher and editor of the NAACP journal "The Crisis."
He continued his work with the NAACP until 1934 when he left the organization.

After being accused of being a communist, brought before a judge and the case being dismissed, Du Bois officially joined the communist party in 1961 and left the U.S.  A year later he gave up his U.S. citizenship and became a citizen of Ghana (that's in Africa).  He died in 1963. 

You can find out more about W.E.B. Du Bois at Biography dot com.  There is also a pretty cool interactive NAACP timeline at Thinkfinity that would be useful to tie into a lesson plan.  It even has lesson plans built into it.

Claudea B.



2littlehearts said...

I've read part of "The Souls of Black Folk." I thought him brilliant in his insight. I'm not suprised he joined the Communist Party. That's not terribly shocking for a Canadian like me. I enjoyed your post about him he was a stellar intellect.

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