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Militant Activism

By | Feb. 2008
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Militant Activism

It's easy to criticize the loudest voice. W. E. B. DuBois was a very loud voice in the early stages of Black advancement. He is criticized for being a militant propagandist whose methods sometimes worked against the Black cause. He is known for embedding the idea that the whites are always oppressors, and the blacks are always victims. I think most of this criticism is centered on his activities as founder-editor, (1910- 1934), of Crisis Magazine, a program of the N.A.A.C.P. This was the platform he used to point to specific happenings in race relations. He would personally comment on any number of issues, from those that pleased him to the more numerous issues that angered him. As shaky as it may be for anyone to use absolutes to describe the roles of whites and blacks, I believe there are few occasions relevant to society which demand their use. Is it the case that Blacks are always victims today? Certainly not. But even the educated, well-socialized DuBois at times fell victim to racist policies and mindsets. DuBois may have been loud, and even stubborn, but the advancement of his theories necessitated it. First, DuBois is a sociologist, second, an activist. Regardless of his propagandist approach, his ideas are based in sound observation and reasoning. The Souls of Black Folk is widely considered a sociological work, rather than a literary one. It is in this collection of essays that his sound ideas and balanced observations come across without the grating tone of indignation.

While there are many beautiful cultural themes in The Souls of Black Folk, such as reference to the slave songs in The Sorrow Songs, "They are the music of an unhappy people, of the children of disappointment; they tell of death and suffering and unvoiced longing toward a truer world, of misty wanderings and hidden ways," (DuBois XIV, 6), the more relevant material lies his examination of race as it relates to class. Even after Blacks were...

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