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W.E.B. DuBois was born in Great Barrington Massachusetts 1868. He graduated from Barrington Massachusetts high school in 1884. Soon after that, DuBois went to college in Cambridge Massachusetts until 1892 when he moved to Germany to receive more education. Afterwards he taught in Ohio. It was here that he met his wife and they got married in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Afterwards he studied more in Philadelphia as well as taught in Atlanta. He was then convinced to teach summer school at Tuskegee Alabama in 1903 once. In 1903 he left Atlanta to join the NAACP in New York where he stayed for a while. He visited Liberia in 1923 as well as the Soviet Union in 1926 for conferences. Once again he returned to Atlanta University to serve as the chair of the Sociology department in 1934 for ten years until 1944 when he went back to the NAACP. In 1958, after a brief period when he wasn’t allowed to travel with his passport, DuBois traveled to the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, China, and Moscow and then returned home. In 1961 He lived in Ghana where he eventually became a citizen until his death in 1963.
After DuBois graduated from high school he received scholarships through the mentorship and the help of his principal, Frank Hosmer, allowing him to go to the prestigious Fisk University. At Fisk he learned about African culture in America which is said to have helped him develop his sense of cultural pride. He also had experiences teaching during the summers of 1886-1887 at Tuskegee. After his schooling at Fisk, applied to Harverd and got his BA in 1890, his MA in 1891, and his PhD in 1895 in history. During this time DuBois became good friends with Albert Bushnell Hart and Wiliam James, who became his professional mentors as well. Dubois continued his education in Germany at Friedrich-Wilhelm III Universitat, but unfortunately was not able to complete his economics degree formally there due to residency issues.
DuBois initially believed in the initiation of black nationalism, but then slowly gravitated to equal education and treatment for all as well returning to his theories on black national nationalism later on in his life. He stated that he wanted to “make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows….’. Much of his life he also argued about issues with White supremacy, European imperialism, and the continuing loss of dignity for Africans. DuBois wanted to prepare African Americans to be ready for when segregation was no more, for he saw that coming in the future. As stated by Johnson “DuBois called upon Blacks to take advantage of every opportunity to be the intellectual and moral equals of whites so that when the walls of segregation finally came down, blacks would be in a position to compete successfully for positions throughout the social system. DuBois, a humanist, believed that education must be more complex than a simplistic focus only on societal and individual economic interests”.
W.E.B. DuBois was, and still is, a very monumental person to learn about in school. One of DuBois’s biggest accomplishments was the study he conducted in 1899, that was titled The Philadelphia Negro. He conducted this study after accepting a position at the University of Pennsylvania (History.com Editors, 2009). His study revolved around Philadelphia’s Seventh Ward, which was an area that was largely inhabited by African Americans. He mapped out the Seventh Ward and documented familial and work structures by going door-to-door and interviewing people in the area. The study is considered one of the earliest forms of statistical work that was used for sociological purposes. The study concluded the biggest challenges for the African American community were poverty, crime, lack of education, and lack of trust to people outside the community. DuBois also founded and led the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, better known as the NAACP.
DuBois was a large advocate for black civil rights, which is closely related to the work of social workers. His ultimate goal was to gain equal rights for everyone, especially the black community, just as a social worker tries to do. He impacted the social work profession in many ways. He showed how much of a change can occur when someone is passionate and really fights for what they want. He also exemplified what a social worker should be like and how to go about taking action for the greater good of people. When it comes to society, he had a major impact. He believed everyone should be treated equal, regardless of the color of their skin. He empowered those in the African American community by giving them a voice and showing them they can do anything regardless of the color of their skin. “As a means to uplift the Black community from these imposed conditions, DuBois advocated for an education grounded in Black culture and community. Believing higher education was the foundation of the American educational system, on which to create a passionate intellectual army of activists to advance the Black community, DuBois sought to uplift the Black race through the education and advancement of men and women highly trained in the cultural, political, and social needs of the Black community”.
W.E.B. DuBois fought to achieve equal rights for everyone in the black community, especially in the educational system. Racial injustice is still an issue faced today, but it is not as severe as it was many years ago. Today, people of color have a better opportunity to obtain a quality education. Thanks to the help of DuBois, and many others, the educational system is not as discriminatory as it used to be. The educational system is a lot more diverse and accepting of people of color. If people continue to be advocates like DuBois and many other people, the world would see a lot more positive change.
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