Saturday, August 11, 2007

W.E.B. du Bois (1868-1963)

Sierra Club


One is astonished in the study of history at the recurrence of the idea that evil must be forgotten, distorted, skimmed over. We must not remember that Daniel Webster got drunk but only that he was a splendid constitutional lawyer. We must forget that George Washington was a slave owner . . . and simply remember the things we regard as creditable and inspiring. The difficulty, of course, with this philosophy is that history loses its value as an incentive and example; it paints perfect man and noble nations, but it does not tell the truth.


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William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (1868-1963) was born in Massachusetts on February 23, 1868. In 1896, he became the first African-American to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard. Following this, he was to spend many years studying the lives and situations of African-Americans, applying social science to problems of race relations.

He was to become one of the more notable political activists on behalf of African-Americans. A contemporary of Booker T. Washington, he argued with the latter in print about African-American self-determination, liberal education, and social equality. In1909 he helped to found the NAACP. In his later years, W. E. B. Du Bois became increasingly disillusioned with race relations in the United States. He emigrated to Ghana in 1961and joined the Communist Party there. He died in Ghana in 1963.


His works include: The Souls of Black Folk; "The Evolution of Negro Leadership" published in The Dial 31 (July 16, 1901); "The Talented Tenth" published as the second chapter of The Negro Problem, a collection of articles by African Americans. [This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License and uses material adapted in whole or in part from the Wikipedia article on W.E.B. Du Bois.]

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