William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, known as W.E.B. Du Bois, was born on February 23, 1868, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. While growing up in a mostly European American town, he identified himself as "mulatto," but freely attended school with whites and was enthusiastically supported in his academic studies by his white teachers. In 1885, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to attend Fisk University. It was there that he first encountered Jim Crow laws. For the first time, he began analyzing the deep troubles of American racism. After earning his bachelor's degree at Fisk, Du Bois entered Harvard University. He paid his way with money from summer jobs, scholarships and loans from friends. After completing his master's degree, he was selected for a study-abroad program at the University of Berlin. While a pupil in Germany, he studied with some of the most prominent social scientists of his day and was exposed to political perspectives that he touted for the remainder of his life. In 1895, he became the first African American to earn a doctorate from Harvard University.
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (better known as W. E. B. Du Bois) is primarily remembered today for two of his achievements: he was the first African-American to earn a PhD from Harvard (in 1895); and then, in 1903, he published The Souls of Black Folks. Part sociological study, part philosophical reflection on race, part moving and poetic autobiography, Souls introduced the idea of “double-consciousness,” which refers to the divided experience and vision of African-Americans. This concept, and others stemming from it, actively influence both popular and academic discussions of race in America today. Still taught regularly, The Souls of Black Folks is one of the most honest and profound discussions of race ever published.
He taught for the next ten years at Atlanta University and published two of his major works, BLACK RECONSTRUCTION: AN ESSAY TOWARD A HISTORY OF THE PART