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February 23, 1868, Great Barrington, Massachusetts, United States
August 27, 1963, Accra, Ghana
Sociologist, Socialist, Historian, Civil Rights Activist, Pan-Africanist, Author, Writer and Editor
The Souls of Black Folk, Black Reconstruction, The Crisis
February 23, 1868 – August 27, 1963
W.E.B. Du Bois was an American sociologist, historian, author, editor, and activist who was the most important Black protest leader in the United States during the first half of the 20th century. He shared in the creation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909 and edited The Crisis, its magazine, from 1910 to 1934.
In 1905, Du Bois took the lead in founding the Niagara Movement, which was dedicated chiefly to attacking the platform of Booker T. Washington. The small organization, which met annually until 1909, was seriously weakened by internal squabbles and Washington’s opposition. But it was significant as an ideological forerunner and direct inspiration for the interracial NAACP, founded in 1909.
Du Bois played a prominent part in the creation of the NAACP and became the association’s director of research and editor of its magazine, The Crisis. In this role he wielded an unequaled influence among middle-class Blacks and progressive whites as the propagandist for the Black protest from 1910 until 1934.
W.E.B. Du Bois’s notable works included The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study (1899), the first case study of a black community in the United States; a collection of essays, The Souls of Black Folk (1903), a landmark of African American literature; Black Reconstruction (1935); and the autobiography Dusk of Dawn (1940).
In his work as a black protest leader, W.E.B. Du Bois believed social change could be accomplished only through agitation and protest, and he promoted this view in his writing and in his organizing work. He was a pioneering advocate of black nationalism and Pan-Africanism, and he urged his readers to see “Beauty in Black.”
“Children learn more from what you are than what you teach.”
“Believe in life! Always human beings will progress to greater, broader, and fuller life.”
“The worker must work for the glory of his handiwork, not simply for pay; the thinker must think for truth, not for fame.”
“Either America will destroy ignorance or ignorance will destroy the United States.”
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