Harlem Renaissance: W.E.B. Du Bois.
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was a major sociologist historian, writer, editor, political activist, and cofounder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). During the Harlem renaissance and through his editorship of crisis magazine, he actively sought and presented the literary genius of black writers for the entire world to acknowledge and honor (Gale schools, 2004).
Du Bois was born on February 23, 1868 in great Barrington Massachusetts. His father was a former civil war soldier who left the family for was when his son Do bois was still a toddler. His mother, Mary Silvina Burghardt Du Bois, died in 1884, shortly after her son graduated at the top of his class from Great Barrington High school.
Although du bois had been raised in a white, virtually nonracist New England environment, du bois chose to attend college at black, southern Fisk University. At Fisk University, he developed a deeper awareness of himself as an African American, and he graduated from there in 1888. As a trained sociologist, he started to document the oppressions of the blacks by the whites, and their struggles in fight for equality in the 1890’s. in 1903, he had learnt enough to state that, the greatest challenge of the twentieth century is the color difference. This was stated in The Souls of Black Folk.
Du Bois received a second bachelor’s degree with cum lande designation from Harvard. Immediately after this degree he delivered a commencement address. In 1891, he acquired a master degree from Harvard. Du Bois received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1895, concentrating on history and sociology at the University of Berlin in Germany from 1892 to 1894. Du Bois doctorates dissertation of 1896, the suppression of the African slave trade to the United States of America 1638-1870, set the standards for the series of Harvard Historical studies.
in the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in 1896, he did a case study that was published in 1899 as the Philadelphia Negro, the first of its kind of an African-American community. In 1887, he became the charter member of the American Negro Academy, founded in Washington, D.C., by the episcopal minister and pan Africanist Alexander Cromwell. He later joined the Trinidad Henry Sylvester Williams and Bishop Alexander Walters London to help coordinate the first pan African congress.
Du Bois initially believed that social science can enlighten people in solving race related problems. He gradually came to conclude that in a climate of harsh racism defined and expressed in open evils like Lynching, disfranchisement, peonage, Jim Crow segregation laws, and race riots, social change can only be accomplished through protest and agitation. This view conflicted with the most prominent black leader of the period, Booker T. Washington, who by that time was preaching a philosophy of accommodation. He argued that blacks should accept discrimination in the meantime and establish themselves through hard work and economic gain, eventually demanding respect of the whites.
In his famous book ‘The Souls of Black Folk In 1903’, Du Bois argued that Washington's strategy would serve to perfect the freedom of the blacks, rather than the actual freeing the black man from oppression. This attack cleared up the opposition to Booker T. Washington among fellow black intellectuals, dividing the leaders of the black community into two divides, the ‘conservative’ supporters of Washington and his ‘radical’ critics.
A few years later, Du Bois together with other black leaders started the Niagra movement. The movement sought to get rid of all preeminence based on race. Although this movement broke up, it served as the forerunner of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He and served as its director and chief editor for its journal crisis. In 1973 Henry Lee Moon collected some articles written by Du Bois for Crisis and...
References: Gale Schools - Article Archive - W.E.B. Du Bois. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.galeschools.com/article_archive/2004/12/dubois.htm Title W.E.B. Du Bois: American prophet
Edward J. Blum, (2007.) Politics and culture in modern America, University of Pennsylvania: Philadelphia, PA
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