W. E. B. Du Bois

1868–1963
W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois was at the vanguard of the civil rights movement in America. Of French and African descent, Du Bois grew up in Massachusetts and did not begin to comprehend the problems of racial prejudice until he attended Fisk University in Tennessee. Later he was accepted at Harvard University, but while he was at that institution, he voluntarily segregated himself from white students. Trained as a sociologist, Du Bois began to document the oppression of black people and their strivings for equality in the 1890s. By 1903 he had learned enough to state in The Souls of Black Folk that "the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line," and he spent the remainder of his long life trying to break down racial barriers.

The Souls of Black Folk was not well received when it first appeared. Houston A. Baker, Jr. explained in his Black Literature in America that white Americans were not "ready to respond favorably to Du Bois's scrupulously accurate portrayal of the hypocrisy, hostility, and brutality of white America toward black America." Many blacks were also shocked by the book because Du Bois announced his opposition to the conciliatory policy of Booker T. Washington and his followers, who favored assimilation and argued for the gradual development of the Negro race through vocational training. Du Bois declared: "So far as Mr. Washington apologizes for injustice, North or South, does not rightly value the privilege and duty of voting, belittles the emasculating effects of caste distinctions, and opposes the higher training and ambition of our brighter minds—so far as he, the South, or the Nation, does this—we must unceasingly and firmly oppose him. By every civilized and peaceful method we must strive for the rights which the world accords to men." In retrospect, many scholars have pointed to The Souls of Black Folk as a prophetic work. Harold W. Cruse and Carolyn Gipson noted in the New York Review of Books that "nowhere else was Du Bois's description of the Negro's experience in American Society to be given more succinct expression. . . . Souls is probably his greatest achievement as a writer. Indeed, his reputation may largely rest on this remarkable document, which had a profound effect on the minds of black people."

A few years after The Souls of Black Folk was published, Du Bois banded with other black leaders and began the Niagra Movement, which sought to abolish all distinctions based on race. Although this movement disintegrated, it served as the forerunner of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Du Bois helped to establish the NAACP and worked as its director of publicity and research for many years. As the editor of the Crisis, a journal put out by the NAACP, he became a well-known spokesman for the black cause. In 1973 Henry Lee Moon gathered a number of essays and articles written by Du Bois for Crisis and published them in book form as The Emerging Thought of W. E. B. Du Bois: Essays and Editorials from "The Crisis."

In addition to the articles and editorials he wrote for the Crisis, Du Bois produced a number of books on the history of the Negro race and on the problems of racial prejudice. In Black Reconstruction: An Essay toward a History of the Part Which Black Folk Played in the Attempt to Reconstruct Democracy in America, 1860-1880, he wrote about the role blacks played during Reconstruction, a role that had been hitherto ignored by white historians. The history of the black race in Africa and America was outlined in Black Folk, Then and Now: An Essay in the History and Sociology of the Negro Race. Writing in the Saturday Review of Literature, H. J. Seligmann found Black Folk impressive and noted, "No one can leave it without a deepened sense of the part the Negro peoples have played and must play in world history." An even higher compliment was paid by Barrett Williams. Writing in the Boston Transcript, Williams commented that "Professor Du Bois has overlooked one of the strongest arguments against racial inferiority, namely, this book itself. In it, a man of color has proved himself, in the complex and exacting field of scholarship, the full equal of his white colleagues."

Although Du Bois's novels did not attract as much notice as his scholarly works, they also are concerned with the plight of the black race. His first novel, The Quest of the Silver Fleece, dramatizes the difficulties created by the low economic status of the Southern Negro. Dark Princess deals with miscegenation. After reading Dark Princess, a reviewer for Massachusetts's Springfield Republican observed: "The truth is, of course, that Du Bois is not a novelist at all, and that the book judged as a novel has only the slightest merit. As a document, as a program, as an exhortation, it has its interest and value."

Du Bois gradually grew disillusioned with the moderate policies of the NAACP and with the capitalistic system in the United States. When he advocated black autonomy and "non-discriminatory segregation" in 1934, he was forced to resign from his job at the NAACP. Later he returned to the NAACP and worked there until another rift developed between him and that organization's leadership in 1944. More serious conflicts arose between Du Bois and the U.S. government. Du Bois had become disenchanted with capitalism relatively early. In Darkwater: Voices from within the Veil, he depicts the majority of mankind as being subjugated by an imperialistic white race. In the 1940s, he returned to this subject and examined it in more detail. In Color and Democracy: Colonies and Peace, he presents a case against imperialism. "This book by Dr. Du Bois is a small volume of 143 pages," critic H. A. Overstreet observed in the Saturday Review of Literature, "but it contains enough dynamite to blow up the whole vicious system whereby we have comforted our white souls and lined the pockets of generations of free-booting capitalists." The World and Africa: An Inquiry into the Part Which Africa Has Played in World History contains a further indictment of the treatment of colonials. Du Bois "does not seek exaggeration of Africa's role, but he insists the role must not be forgotten," Saul Carson remarked in the New York Times. "And his insistence is firm. It is persuasive, eloquent, moving. Considering the magnitude of the provocation, it is well-tempered, even gentle."

Du Bois not only wrote about his political beliefs, he acted upon them, belonging to the Socialist party for a brief time in the early 1900s. Later he conceived a program of Pan-Africanism, a movement he described as "an organized protection of the Negro world led by American Negroes." In 1948 he campaigned for the Progressive Party in national elections, and in 1950 he ran for the office of U.S. senator from the state of New York on the American Labor Party ticket. Du Bois's radical political stance provoked some run-ins with the U.S. government, the first of which occurred in 1949, when he accepted an honorary position as vice-chairman of the Council on African affairs. This organization was labeled "subversive" by the U.S. attorney general. His work with the Peace Information Center, a society devoted to banning nuclear weapons, also embroiled him in controversy. Along with four other officers from the Peace Information Center, Du Bois was indicted for "failure to register as an agent of a foreign principal." The case was brought to trial in 1951, and the defendants were acquitted.

After the trial was over, Du Bois hoped to travel outside the United States, but he was denied a passport on the grounds that it was not in "the best interests of the United States" for him to journey abroad. Later the U.S. State Department refused to issue a passport to him unless he stated in writing that he was not a member of the Communist Party, a condition Du Bois rejected. In 1958 the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision declaring that "Congress had never given the Department of State any authority to demand a political affidavit as prerequisite to issuing a passport." This decision enabled Du Bois and his wife to leave the country the same year. For several months they traveled in Europe, the USSR, and China.

Du Bois's travels abroad had a profound influence on his thinking. In 1961 he joined the Communist Party. He explained in his autobiography how he reached this decision: "I have studied socialism and communism long and carefully in lands where they are practiced and in conversation with their adherents, and with wide reading. I now state my conclusion frankly and clearly: I believe in communism. . . . I believe that all men should be employed according to their ability and that wealth and services should be distributed according to need. Once I thought that these ends could be attained under capitalism, means of production privately owned, and used in accord with free individual initiative. After earnest observation I now believe that private ownership of capital and free enterprise are leading the world to disaster."

After joining the Communist party, Du Bois moved to Ghana at the invitation of Ghanaian President Nkrumah. While there he served as the director of the Encyclopaedia Africana project. In August of 1963, the ninety-five-year-old leader spearheaded a protest march on the U.S. embassy in Accra to show support for the historic "March for Jobs and Freedom" taking place in Washington, D.C., that same month. Shortly afterward, Du Bois died.

Although Du Bois was a controversial figure during his lifetime, his reputation continued to grow during the decades after his death. In a discussion of the revival of scholarly interest in Du Bois, Cruse and Gipson wrote: "It is important to remember that he continued to plead for a truly pluralistic culture in a world where the superiority of whites is still an a priori assumption. In so far as he grasped the basic dilemma of Western blacks as being a people with 'two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings,' Du Bois's attitudes have been vindicated. He was, as we can now see, one of those unique men whose ideas are destined to be reviled and then revived, and then, no doubt, reviled again, haunting the popular mind long after his death."

That Du Bois has remained a central figure in considerations of race was evident in 2003 when a host of events were held around the United States to celebrate the centennial of the publication of The Souls of Black Folk. Atlanta's National Black Arts Festival focused on the music, dramas, and arts inspired by the book while a staged adaptation of readings from the book premiered in New York. In an interview with Felicia R. Lee for the New York Times, Dolan Hubbard commented: "Du Bois was a founding father of multiculturalism, of blending races and ideas. You can trace the lineage of black music all the way to hip-hop in Souls. And certainly there is the religious imagination, the question of how people deal with problems of human suffering, a problem as old as Job." In a Black Issues in Higher Education article, Caroline Maun commented, "Du Bois, as the sorrow songs he speaks so insightfully about, taught us how to feel about race in America. Feeling about race—directly, honestly, and fully—can be a demanding and painful task, but part of Du Bois's message is that it is the only sure path toward social change."

Career

Wilberforce University, Wilberforce, OH, professor of Greek and Latin, 1894-96; University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, assistant instructor in sociology, 1896-97; Atlanta University, Atlanta, GA, professor of history and economics, 1897-1910, professor and chairman of department of sociology, 1934-44; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), New York, NY, cofounder, director of publicity and research, and editor of Crisis, 1910-34, director of special research, 1944-48; Peace Information Center, New York, NY, director, 1950. Cofounder and general secretary of Niagra Movement, 1905-09. Organizer of Pan-African Congress, 1919. Vice chairman of Council of African Affairs, 1949. American Labor Party candidate for U.S. senator from New York State, 1950.

Bibliography

NOVELS

  • The Quest of the Silver Fleece, A. C. McClurg (Chicago, IL), 1911, reprinted, Harlem Moon (New York, NY), 2004.
  • Dark Princess: A Romance, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1928.
  • The Ordeal of Mansart (first novel in trilogy; also see below), Mainstream Publishers (New York, NY), 1957.
  • Mansart Builds a School (second novel in trilogy; also see below), Mainstream Publishers (New York, NY), 1959.
  • Worlds of Color (third novel in trilogy; also see below), Mainstream Publishers (New York, NY), 1961.
  • The Black Flame (trilogy collection; includes The Ordeal of Mansart, Mansart Builds a School, and Worlds of Color), Kraus Reprint (Millwood, NY), 1976.

EDITOR

  • Mortality among Negroes in Cities, Atlanta University Press (Atlanta, GA), 1896.
  • Social and Physical Condition of Negroes in Cities, Atlanta University Press (Atlanta, GA), 1897.
  • Some Efforts of American Negroes for Their Own Social Benefit, Atlanta University Press (Atlanta, GA), 1898.
  • The Negro in Business, Atlanta University Press (Atlanta, GA), 1899.
  • A Select Bibliography of the American Negro: For General Readers, Atlanta University Press (Atlanta, GA), 1901.
  • The Negro Common School, Atlanta University Press (Atlanta, GA), 1901.
  • The Negro Artisan, Atlanta University Press (Atlanta, GA), 1902.
  • The Negro Church, Atlanta University Press (Atlanta, GA), 1903, reprinted, Altamira Press (Walnut Creek, CA), 2003.
  • Some Notes on Negro Crime, Particularly in Georgia, Atlanta University Press (Atlanta, GA), 1904.
  • A Select Bibliography of the Negro American, Atlanta University Press (Atlanta, GA), 1905.
  • The Health and Physique of the Negro American, Atlanta University Press (Atlanta, GA), 1906.
  • Economic Co-operation among Negro Americans, Atlanta University Press (Atlanta, GA), 1907.
  • The Negro American Family, Atlanta University Press (Atlanta, GA), 1908.
  • Efforts for Social Betterment among Negro Americans, Atlanta University Press (Atlanta, GA), 1909.
  • (With Augustus Granville Dill) The College-Bred Negro American, Atlanta University Press (Atlanta, GA), 1910.
  • (With Augustus Granville Dill) The Common School and the Negro American, Atlanta University Press (Atlanta, GA), 1911.
  • (With Augustus Granville Dill) The Negro American Artisan, Atlanta University Press (Atlanta, GA), 1912.
  • (With Augustus Granville Dill) Morals and Manners among Negro Americans, Atlanta University Press (Atlanta, GA), 1914.
  • Atlanta University Publications, two volumes, Hippocrene, 1968.

NONFICTION

  • The Suppression of the African Slave-Trade to the United States of America, 1638-1870, Longmans, Green (New York, NY), 1896, reprinted, Dover (Mineola, NY), 1999.
  • The Conservation of Races, American Negro Academy, 1897.
  • The Philadelphia Negro: A Special Study (bound with A Special Report on Domestic Service, by Isobel Eaton), University of Pennsylvania Press (Philadelphia, PA), 1899.
  • The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches (young adult), A. C. McClurg (Chicago, IL), 1903, reprinted, with an introduction by David Levering Lewis, Modern Library (New York, NY), 2003.
  • (With Booker T. Washington) The Negro in the South: His Economic Progress in Relation to His Moral and Religious Development (lectures), G. W. Jacobs (Philadelphia, PA), 1907, reprinted, AMS Press (New York, NY), 1973.
  • John Brown (biography), G. W. Jacobs (Philadelphia, PA), 1909, 2nd revised edition, International Publishing (New York, NY), 1974, reprinted, with an introduction by David Roediger, Modern Library (New York, NY), 2001.
  • The Negro, Holt (New York, NY), 1915, reprinted, Humanity Books (Amherst, NY), 2002.
  • Darkwater: Voices from within the Veil (semiautobiographical), Harcourt (New York, NY), 1920, reprinted, with introduction by David Levering Lewis, Washington Square Press (New York, NY), 2004.
  • The Gift of Black Folk: The Negroes in the Making of America, Stratford (Boston, MA), 1924, reprinted, with an introduction by Edward F. McSweeney, AMS Press (New York, NY), 1971.
  • Africa: Its Geography, People, and Products, Haldeman-Julius Publications, 1930, reprinted, with an introduction by Herbert Aptheker, KTO Press (Millwood, NY), 1977.
  • Africa: Its Place in Modern History, Haldeman-Julius Publications, 1930, reprinted and bound with Africa: Its Geography, People and Products, Unipub-Kraus International, 1977.
  • Black Reconstruction: An Essay toward a History of the Part Which Black Folk Played in the Attempt to Reconstruct Democracy in America, 1860-1880, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1935, published as Black Reconstruction in America, 1860-1880, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1969.
  • Black Folk, Then and Now: An Essay in the History and Sociology of the Negro Race, Holt (New York, NY), 1939, reprinted, Octagon Books (New York, NY), 1970.
  • Dusk of Dawn: An Essay toward an Autobiography of a Race Concept, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1940, reprinted, with an introduction by Irene Diggs, Transaction Books (New Brunswick, NJ), 1984.
  • Color and Democracy: Colonies and Peace, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1945, reprinted, with an introduction by Herbert Aptheker, KTO Press (Millwood, NY), 1975.
  • The World and Africa: An Inquiry into the Part Which Africa Has Played in World History, Viking (New York, NY), 1947, revised edition, 1965.
  • (Editor) An Appeal to the World: A Statement on the Denial of Human Rights to Minorities in the Case of Citizens of Negro Descent in the United States of America and an Appeal to the United Nations for Redress, [New York, NY], 1947.
  • In Battle for Peace: The Story of My Eighty-third Birthday (autobiography), Masses & Mainstream (New York, NY), 1952, reprinted, with an introduction by Herbert Aptheker, KTO Press (Millwood, NY), 1976.
  • The Autobiography of W. E. Burghardt Du Bois: A Soliloquy on Viewing My Life from the Last Decade of Its First Century, edited by Herbert Aptheker, International Publishers (New York, NY), 1968.
  • Black North in 1901: A Social Study, Arno Press (New York, NY), 1969.

OTHER

  • Haiti (plays; included in Federal Theatre Plays), edited by Pierre De Rohan, Works Progress Administration, 1938.
  • An ABC of Color: Selections from Over Half a Century of the Writings of W. E. B. Du Bois, Seven Seas Publishers (Berlin, Germany), 1963.
  • Selected Poems Ghana University Press (Accra, Ghana), c. 1964.
  • Three Negro Classics, edited by John H. Franklin, Avon (New York, NY), 1965.
  • W. E. B. Du Bois Speaks: Speeches and Addresses, edited by Philip S. Foner, Pathfinder Press (New York, NY), 1970.
  • The Selected Writings of W. E. B. Du Bois, edited by Walter Wilson, New American Library (New York, NY), 1970.
  • W. E. B. Du Bois: A Reader, edited by Meyer Weinberg, Harper (New York, NY), 1970.
  • The Seventh Son: The Thoughts and Writings of W. E. B. Du Bois, edited by Julius Lester, Random House (New York, NY), 1971.
  • A W. E. B. Du Bois Reader, edited by Andrew G. Paschal, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1971.
  • W. E. B. Du Bois: The Crisis Writings, edited by Daniel Walden, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1972.
  • The Emerging Thought of W. E. B. Du Bois: Essays and Editorials from "The Crisis," edited by Harvey Lee Moon, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1972.
  • The Correspondence of W. E. B. Du Bois, edited by Herbert Aptheker, University of Massachusetts Press (Amherst, MA), Volume I: 1877-1934, 1973, Volume II: 1934-1944, 1976, Volume III: 1944-1963, 1978.
  • The Education of Black People: Ten Critiques, 1906-1960, edited by Herbert Aptheker, University of Massachusetts Press (Amherst, MA), 1973, reprinted, Monthly Review Press (New York, NY), 2001.
  • The Writings of W. E. B. Du Bois, edited by Virginia Hamilton, Crowell (New York, NY), 1975.
  • Book Reviews, edited by Herbert Aptheker, KTO Press (Millwood, New York), 1977.
  • Prayers for Dark People, edited by Herbert Aptheker, University of Massachusetts Press (Amherst, MA), 1980.
  • Writings in Periodicals, Unipub-Kraus International (White Plains, NY), 1985.
  • Creative Writings by W. E. B. Du Bois: A Pageant, Poems, Short Stories, and Playlets, Unipub-Kraus International (White Plains, NY), 1985.
  • Pamphlets and Leaflets by W. E. B. Du Bois, Unipub-Kraus International (White Plains, NY), 1985.
  • Against Racism: Unpublished Essays, Papers, Addresses, 1887-1961, edited by Herbert Aptheker, University of Massachusetts Press (Amherst, MA), 1985.
  • W. E. B. Du Bois on Sociology and the Black Community, edited by Dan S. Greene and Edwin D. Driver, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1987.
  • W. E. B. Du Bois Writings, Library of America (New York, NY), 1987.
  • W. E. B. Du Bois: A Reader, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 1995.
  • The Oxford W. E. B. Du Bois Reader, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1996.
  • The Selected Speeches of W. E. B. Du Bois, Modern Library (New York, NY), 1996.
  • Du Bois on Religion, edited by Phil Zuckerman, AltaMira Press (Walnut Creek, CA), 2000.
  • The Social Theory of W. E. B. Du Bois, edited and introduction by Phil Zuckerman, Pine Forge Press (Thousand Oaks, CA), 2004.

Columnist for newspapers, including Chicago Defender, Pittsburgh Courier, New York Amsterdam News, and San Francisco Chronicle. Contributor to numerous periodicals, including Atlantic and World's Work. Founder and editor of numerous periodicals, including Moon, 1905-06, Horizon, 1908-10, Brownies' Book, 1920-21, and Phylon Quarterly, 1940. Editor-in-chief of Encyclopedia of the Negro, 1933-46. Director of Encyclopaedia Africana. Author of pageants "The Christ of the Andes," "George Washington and Black Folk: A Pageant for the Centenary, 1732-1932," and "The Star of Ethiopia." Some of Du Bois's books have been published in French and Russian.

Further Reading

BOOKS

  • Baker, Houston A., Jr., Black Literature in America, McGraw-Hill (New York, NY), 1971.
  • Bell, Bernard W., Emily Grosholz, and James B. Stewart, The Critique of Custom: W. E. B. Du Bois and Philosophical Questions, Routledge (New York, NY), 1996.
  • Black Writers, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1989.
  • Bone, Robert A., The Negro Novel in America, revised edition, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1965.
  • Byerman, Keith Eldon, Seizing the Word: History, Art, and Self in the Work of W. E. B. Du Bois, Univeristy of Georgia Press (Athens, GA), 1994.
  • Concise Dictionary of American Literary Biography: Realism, Naturalism, and Local Color, 1865-1917, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1988.
  • Contemporary Literary Criticism, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 1, 1973, Volume 2, 1974.
  • Dictionary of Literary Biography, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 47: American Historians, 1866-1912, 1986, Volume 50: Afro-American Writers before the Harlem Renaissance, 1986.
  • Du Bois, Shirley Graham, His Day Is Marching On: A Memoir of W. E. B. Du Bois, Lippincott (Philadelphia, PA), 1971.
  • Du Bois, W. E. B., The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches (young adult), A. C. McClurg (Chicago, IL), 1903, reprinted, with an introduction by David Levering Lewis, Modern Library (New York, NY), 2003.
  • Du Bois, W. E. B., Darkwater: Voices from within the Veil, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1920, reprinted, Kraus Reprint (Millwood, NY), 1975.
  • Du Bois, W. E. B., Dusk of Dawn: An Essay toward an Autobiography of Race Concept, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1940, reprinted, Kraus Reprint (Millwood, NY), 1975.
  • Du Bois, W. E. B., In Battle for Peace: The Story of My Eighty-third Birthday, Masses & Mainstream (New York, NY), 1952, reprinted, Kraus Reprint (Millwood, NY), 1976.
  • Du Bois, W. E. B., The Autobiography of W. E. B. Du Bois: A Soliloquy on Viewing My Life from the Last Decade of Its First Century, International Publishers (New York, NY), 1968.
  • Hawkins, Hugh, editor, Booker T. Washington and His Critics: Black Leadership in Crisis, Heath (New York, NY), 1974.
  • Katz, Michael B., and Thomas J. Sugrue, W. E. B. DuBois, Race, and the City: The Philadelphia Negro and Its Legacy, University of Pennsylvania Press (Philadelphia, PA), 1998.
  • Logan, Rayford W., editor, W. E. B. Du Bois: A Profile, Hill & Wang (New York, NY), 1971.
  • Pobi-Asamani, Kwadwo, W. E. B. Du Bois: His Contribution to Pan-Africanism, Borgo Press (San Bernardino, CA), 1994.
  • Rampersad, Arnold, Art and Imagination of W. E. B. Du Bois, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1976.
  • Reed, Adolph L., Fabianism and the Color Line: W. E. B. Du Bois and American Political Thought in Black and White, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1997.
  • Rudwick, Elliott M., W. E. B. Du Bois: Propagandist of the Negro Protest, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1968.
  • Wintz, Cary D., African-American Political Thought, M. E. Sharpe (Armonk, NY), 1996.
  • Zamir, Shamoon, Dark Voices: W. E. B. Du Bois and American Thought, 1888-1903, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1995.

PERIODICALS

  • American Visions, February-March, 1994, p. 24.
  • Black Issues in Higher Education, June 19, 2003, Caroline Maun, "Teaching Du Bois at the Right Moment."
  • Boston Transcript, June 24, 1939.
  • Ebony, August, 1972; August, 1975; November, 1994, p. 102.
  • Forbes, December 5, 1994, p. 84.
  • Jet, November 14, 1994, p. 20.
  • Los Angeles Times Book Review, January 25, 1987.
  • New Republic, February 26, 1972; August 4, 1994, p. 28.
  • Newsweek, August 23, 1971.
  • New York Review of Books, November 30, 1972.
  • New York Times, March 9, 1947, October 24, 1979; April 15, 2003, Felicia R. Lee, "Scholars Revisit W. E. B. DuBois, Who Found a New Way to Think about Race in America," p. E1.
  • New York Times Book Review, September 29, 1985.
  • Saturday Review of Literature, July 29, 1939, June 23, 1945.
  • Springfield Republican, (Springfield, MA), May 28, 1928.

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Poet Categorization

SCHOOL / PERIOD Harlem Renaissance

LIFE SPAN 1868–1963

W. E. B. Du Bois

Biography

W. E. B. Du Bois was at the vanguard of the civil rights movement in America. Of French and African descent, Du Bois grew up in Massachusetts and did not begin to comprehend the problems of racial prejudice until he attended Fisk University in Tennessee. Later he was accepted at Harvard University, but while he was at that institution, he voluntarily segregated himself from white students. Trained as a sociologist, Du Bois began . . .

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