W. E. B. Du Bois

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Du Bois, W. E. B.

(William Edward Burghardt Du Bois) (dəbois`), 1868–1963, American civil-rights leader and author, b. Great Barrington, Mass., grad. Harvard (B.A., 1890; M.A., 1891; Ph.D., 1895). Du Bois was an early exponent of full equality for African Americans and a cofounder (1905) of the Niagara Movement, which became (1909) the National Association for the Advancement of Colored PeopleNational Association for the Advancement of Colored People
(NAACP), organization composed mainly of American blacks, but with many white members, whose goal is the end of racial discrimination and segregation.
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 (NAACP). Unlike Booker T. WashingtonWashington, Booker Taliaferro,
1856–1915, American educator, b. Franklin co., Va. Washington was born into slavery; his mother was a mulatto slave on a plantation, his father a white man whom he never knew.
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, who believed that unskilled blacks should focus on economic self-betterment, and Marcus GarveyGarvey, Marcus,
1887–1940, American proponent of black nationalism, b. Jamaica. At the age of 14, Garvey went to work as a printer's apprentice. After leading (1907) an unsuccessful printers' strike in Jamaica, he edited several newspapers in Costa Rica and Panama.
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, who advocated a "back to Africa" movement, Du Bois demanded that African Americans should achieve not only economic parity with whites in the United States but full and immediate civil and political equality as well. Also, he introduced the concept of the "talented tenth," a black elite whose duty it was to better the lives of less fortunate African Americans.

From 1897 to 1910, Du Bois taught economics and history at Atlanta Univ. In 1910 he became editor of the influential NAACP magazine, Crisis, a position he held until 1934. That year he resigned over the question of voluntary segregation, which he had come to favor over integration, and returned to Atlanta Univ. (1934–44). His concern for the liberation of blacks throughout the world led him to organize the first (Paris, 1919) of several Pan-African Congresses. In 1945, at the Fifth Congress in Manchester, England, he met with the African leaders Kwame NkrumahNkrumah, Kwame
, 1909–72, African political leader, prime minister (1957–60) and president (1960–66) of Ghana. The son of a goldsmith, he was educated at mission schools in the Gold Coast (now Ghana) and became a teacher.
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 and Jomo KenyattaKenyatta, Jomo
, 1893?–1978, African political leader, first president of Kenya (1964–78). A Kikuyu, he was one of the earliest and best-known African nationalist leaders.
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. In 1961 he became a member of the American Communist party, and shortly thereafter he renounced his American citizenship. In the last two years of his life Du Bois lived in Ghana. His books include The Souls of Black Folks (1903), The Negro (1915), Black Reconstruction in America (1935), Color and Democracy (1945), The World and Africa (1947), and In Battle for Peace: The Story of My 83rd Birthday (1952).


See his autobiography, ed. by H. Aptheker (1968); selected writings, ed. by N. Huggins (1986); correspondence, ed. by H. Aptheker (3 vol., 1973–78); biography by D. L. Lewis (2 vol., 1993–2000); studies by G. Horne (1985), M. Marable (1987, repr. 2005), A. Reed, Jr. (1997), and L. Balfour (2011).

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Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt)

(1868–1963) editor, historian, sociologist, political activist, author; born in Great Barrington, Mass. Supported by the local school headmaster and the Congregational Church in Great Barrington, he was educated at Fisk University (1885–88), where he was shocked by the racial segregation he experienced in the South. He went on to take a Ph.D. at Harvard (1895), with two years at the University of Berlin (1892–94). Under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania, he studied black life in the Philadelphia ghetto, writing The Philadelphia Negro (1899). A professor of economics, history, and sociology at Atlanta University (1898–1910), he sponsored an annual conference for the Study of the Negro Problem and wrote essays, compiled in The Soul of Black Folk (1903), calling for an activist African-American middle class to change racial politics. Founding the Niagara Movement (1905) to fight segregation, he also organized its official magazine, Horizon: A Journal of the Color Line (1907–10). He resigned from teaching (1910) to serve as director of publications and research for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in New York, editing Crisis: A Record of the Darker Races (1910–34), a magazine that was credited with encouraging many early civil rights activists. However, when he argued that African-Americans should voluntarily segregate themselves to organize economically during the Great Depression of the 1930s, he alienated the NAACP leadership, so he resigned in 1934. He returned to Atlanta University to chair the sociology department (1934–44), where he founded a scholarly journal, Phylon: A Review of Race and Culture (1940–44), and completed his autobiography, Dusk of Dawn (1940). Forced to retire at age 76, he returned to the NAACP, serving as director of special research (1944–48), leaving when his Marxist politics became a liability. Chairman of the Peace Information Center, an antinuclear weapons group, he was indicted as a foreign agent in 1951 and although acquitted, his passport was revoked (1952–58). He later toured Europe, China, and the Soviet Union, where he received the Lenin Peace Prize (1959). After joining the Communist Party (1961), he moved to Accra, Ghana, becoming a naturalized citizen just before he died.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
As many contemplate how marginalization can be eliminated in the twenty-first century, the charts of W. E. B. Du Bois's Data Portraits offer guidance into how sociology can draw attention to unnoticed inequities as well as under-celebrated progress.
The book is divided into four parts and twelve chapters: part 1, "Was W. E. B. Du Bois Religious"; part 2, "The Importance of Souls" (a reference to the title of his important book, The Souls of Black Folk [1903], and the meaning of "souls" as a religious and spiritual term in Du Bois's capacious vocabulary); part 3, "Rhetorics of Religion and Redeeming Lynch Victims"; part 4, "Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism" (which is principally a reflection on what Du Bois knew of these religions and how they figured in some of his writings).
"Preface." W. E. B. Du Bois. The Souls of Black Folk.
As Du Bois (1903) stated, "It is the trained, living human soul, cultivated and strengthened by long study and thought, that breathes the real breath of life into boys and girls and makes them human, whether they be black or white, Greek, Russian or American." Alridge's book effectively captivates this sentiment in The Educational Thought of W. E. B. Du Bois: An Intellectual History by stressing the clarity and need for continued work on equity and fairness in a society of diverse ethnicities.
(3.) David Levering Lewis, W. E. B. Du Bois' Biography of a Race, 1868-1919 (New York 1993), is the first volume of what may prove to be the definitive biography.
In his ground-breaking study of reconstruction during the period, W. E. B. Du Bois emphasized the part that slaves played in their own emancipation and set the stage for a new interpretation of the Civil War and reconstruction, which would gain increasing acceptance among white scholars during the postwar years.
This book is designed to help rewrite the history of sociology and to acknowledge the primacy of W. E. B. Du Bois's work in the founding of the discipline.
Chapter three, "W. E. B. Du Bois: The Leading Male Feminist of His Time,'" and chapter four, "Novel for the "Darker Sisters,'" are deeply dialogic.
The life, thought, and activities of W. E. B. Du Bois have been treated from many angles by scholars in a range of disciplines.
(4.) See, among others, Cornel West, "W. E. B. Du Bois: An Interpretation," in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience, eds.