Thursday, January 04, 2018

Winter 2018 Part 5

Formal photograph of W. E. B. Du Bois, with beard and mustache, around 50 years oldAn old brick church surrounded by trees

W.E.B. DuBois

W.E.B. DuBois lived for almost one century on this Earth. From the time of his birth to his passing on 1963, he changed the world. He grew up in a middle class, integrated community of Great Barrington, Massachusetts. A great intellectual curiosity defines his life. His community financially facilitated his educational endeavors. W.E.B. DuBois attended Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee.  At that HBCU location, he encountered a wide spectrum of African American human beings (from the rich to the poor). W.E.B. DuBois became an expert sociologist and an excellent researcher of history. He earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University and he eloquently established sociological studies about the breadth of black life (from the 19th century to the early 20th century). He studied the Maafa and slavery intensively. His works like the Souls of Black Folks and Black Reconstruction crystallized great analytical information on the black American experience. As a lifelong social activist, he opposed racism, lynching, economic oppression, and imperialism. WEB DuBois taught history and economics at Atlanta University. He had ideological disagreements with Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey (both Washington and Garvey held similar conservative self-help views). While I disagree with Booker T. Washington on some issues (like his Atlanta Compromise speech and his views on immigration), he wasn’t wrong on everything that he has said. Both DuBois and Washington were right that education is very important for black people to embrace. DuBois promoted Pan-Africanism. He was an early member of the NAACP. I disagree with DuBois on his advocacy of the concept of the Talented Tenth (as I believe in egalitarianism) and his views on eugenics. He was an outspoken critic of capitalism (which I do agree with) and desired socialist principles to be part of American society.

Later, he left the NAACP since it (among its leadership back then during the McCarthyite era) embraced the anti-Communist hysteria of the 1950’s among other reasons. By this time, DuBois was harassed by the federal government because of his political views. He was shunned by the establishment and his passport was restricted for a time. Yet, he still courageously promoted peace and an end to imperialism. W.E.B. DuBois later moved into Ghana by the 1960’s. He worked on forming his African encyclopedia to deal with information about Africa including the African Diaspora. He talked about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. too. In Ghana, DuBois would embrace Communism fully. Ironically, Dr. King would talk about W.E.B. DuBois in celebrating his 100th birthday in a speech from February 23, 1968.  W.E.B. DuBois was a heroic black man. DuBois was representative of the black progressive, radical tradition (using social activism and intellectual discovery) that is still going strong to this very day in our generation. DuBois’ intellectual genius, aptness to defend the rights of humanity, and heroism will always be remembered.

Image result for web dubois early yearsImage result for web dubois early years

Early Years

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was born on February 23, 1868 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. His father was Alfred Du Bois and his mother was Mary Silvinia (nee Burghardt) Du Bois. Mary Silvina Burghardt's family was part of the very small free black population of Great Barrington and had long owned land in the state. She was descended from Dutch, African and English ancestors. William Du Bois's maternal great-great-grandfather was Tom Burghardt, a slave (born in West Africa around 1730) who was held by the Dutch colonist Conraed Burghardt. Tom briefly served in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, which may have been how he gained his freedom during the 18th century. His son Jack Burghardt was the father of Othello Burghardt (who was the father of Mary Silvinia Burghardt). Alfred Du Bois came into the United States sometime before 1860 from Haiti. Mary Burghardt DuBois moved with her son back to her parents’ house in Great Barrington until he was five. She worked hard to supporter her family. She had a stroke in the early 1880’s and passed away in 1885. Great Barrington was a majority white community. DuBois was young and he attended the local integrated public school. He played with white schoolmates. As an adult, he wrote about racism which he felt as a fatherless child and the experience of being a minority in the town. Teachers knew of his ability and encouraged his intellectual pursuits. He later wanted to use academic studies to use his knowledge to empower African Americans. Du Bois graduated from the town’s Searles High School. The congregation of his childhood church, the First Congregational Church of Great Barrington, raised money for his tuition to college.

He attended Fisk University, which is a historical black college (HBCU) from 1885 to 1888. This college is located in Nashville, Tennessee.  He experienced many black friends. He experienced Southern racism for the first time too as Tennessee was dominated by Jim Crow laws, bigotry, suppression of black voting, and lynchings. During that era, there was massive lynching in America. He received a bachelor’s degree from Fisk and he attended Harvard College. He attended Harvard from 1888 to 1890. In Harvard, he was influenced greatly by his professor William James or a professor of American philosophy. Du Bois paid his way through three years at Harvard from money from summer jobs, an inheritance, scholarships, and loans from friends. In 1890, Harvard awarded Du Bois his second bachelor's degree, cum laude, in history. In 1891, Du Bois received a scholarship to attend the sociology graduate school at Harvard. In 1892, he received a fellowship from the John F. Slater Fund for Education of Freedmen to attend the University of Berlin for graduate work. When he was a student in Berlin, he traveled across Europe. He studied with many German social scientists like Gustav von Schmoller, Adolph Wagner, and Heinrich von Treitschke. After returning from Europe, DuBois completed his graduated studies.

Image result for web dubois in collegeImage result for web dubois in college

In 1895, W.E.B. DuBois was the first African American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University. He had many job offers during the summer of 1894. They came from Tuskegee Institute and other places. He accepted a teaching job at Wilberforce University in Ohio. He was strongly influenced by Alexander Crummel (of Wilberforce), who believed that ideals and morals are necessary tools to effect social change. While at Wilberforce, Du Bois married Nina Gomer, one of his students, on May 12, 1896. After two years at Wilberforce, Du Bois accepted a one year research job from University of Pennsylvania. He worked as an assistant in sociology in the summer of 1896. He did his sociological field research in Philadelphia’s African American neighborhoods.

This formed the foundation of the historic, landmark study of his named “The Philadelphia Negro.” It was published in 1889 and while he was teaching at Atlanta University. It was the first case study of a black community in the United States. Back during the 1890’s, racists stereotyped black people in Philadelphia as being filled with crime, poverty, and mortality. DuBois’ study refuted the stereotypes with experimental evidence. He exposed how segregation had a negative impact in black lives and reputations. He promoted racial integration and democratic equality in American cities. While taking part in the American Negro Academy (ANA) in 1897, Du Bois presented a paper in which he rejected Frederick Douglass's plea for black Americans to integrate into white society. He wrote: "we are Negroes, members of a vast historic race that from the very dawn of creation has slept, but half awakening in the dark forests of its African fatherland.” In the August 1897 issue of The Atlantic Monthly, Du Bois published "Strivings of the Negro People", his first work aimed at the general public, in which he enlarged upon his thesis that African Americans should embrace their African heritage while contributing to American society.

Image result for dubois ghana

This is W.E.B. Du Bois with his wife Nina and their daughter Yolande. This is from ca. 1901. 

Atlanta University

By July of 1897, Du Bois left Philadelphia. He took up a professorship in history and economics at the historically black Atlanta University in Georgia. He made his first major academic work called the Philadelphia Negro (1899). It described a comprehensive sociological study of the African American people in Philadelphia. It was based on his 1896-1897 field work in the city. This was a breakthrough in scholarship. The reason was that it was the first scientific study of African Americans and it contributed heavily to early scientific sociology in America. In this study, Du Bois coined the phrase “the submerged tenth” to describe the black poor. Later in 1903, he popularized the term of the “Talented Tenth” to describe society’s elite class or the upper middle class or rich. DuBois believed that the elite of a nation (both black and white) was critical to the achievements in culture and progress. I disagree with that view obviously, because achievements in culture and progress can be achieved by people regardless of class, color, sex, or income level. Back in those days, DuBois made the mistake of calling the underclass “lazy” and “unreliable.” He said that many of their societal problems were blamed on the ravages of slavery. He had a limited budget and worked greatly in Atlanta University. He made many social science papers and annually hosted the Atlanta Conference of Negro Problems. He also received grants from the U.S. government to prepare reports about African American workforce and culture. His students considered him to be a brilliant, but aloof, strict teacher.

In 1900, DuBois attended the First Pan-African Conference. It was held in London from July 23-25. This was before the Paris Exhibition of 1900 to allow tourists of African descent to attend both events. It was organized by men from the Caribbean: Haitians Anténor Firmin and Bénito Sylvain and Trinidadian barrister Henry Sylvester Williams. Du Bois played a leading role, drafting a letter ("Address to the Nations of the World") to European leaders appealing to them to struggle against racism, to grant colonies in Africa and the West Indies the right to self-government and to demand political and other rights for African Americans. By this time, southern states were passing new laws and constitutions to disfranchise most African Americans, an exclusion from the political system that lasted into the 1960’s. At the end of the conference, delegates unanimously adopted the “Address to the Nations of the World.” They sent it to various heads of state where people of African descent were living and suffering oppression. The address wanted America and imperial European nations to “"acknowledge and protect the rights of people of African descent" and to respect the integrity and independence of "the free Negro States of Abyssinia, Liberia, Haiti, etc.” It was signed by Bishop Alexander Walters (President of the Pan-African Association), the Canadian Rev. Henry B. Brown (Vice-President), Williams (General Secretary) and Du Bois (Chairman of the Committee on the Address). The address included Du Bois's observation, "The problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the colour-line." He used this again three years later in the "Forethought" of his book, The Souls of Black Folk (1903).

Image result for booker t washington in colorImage result for booker t washington vs dubois

Then, in the first decade of the new 20th century, DuBois emerged as a spokesman for African Americans, second only to Booker T. Washington. Booker T. Washington was the director of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. This institute was influential in African American and white communities. Washington believed that businesses, thrift, and certain moral values would cause black Americans to have equality. Washington was the architect of the controversial Atlanta Compromise from 1895. It was an unwritten deal that he struck with Southern white leaders who dominated state governments after Reconstruction. Essentially the agreement provided that Southern black human beings, who overwhelmingly lived in rural communities, would submit to the current discrimination, segregation, disenfranchisement, and non-unionized employment; that Southern whites would permit blacks to receive a basic education, some economic opportunities, and justice within the legal system; and that Northern whites would invest in Southern enterprises and fund black educational charities. DuBois at first praised Booker T. Washington for his Atlanta Exposition Speech.

Later, DuBois would oppose Washington’s plan. Many other African Americans criticized Washington more harshly than DuBois. The other critics of Washington were many African Americans like  Archibald H. Grimke, Kelly Miller, James Weldon Johnson and Paul Laurence Dunbar – representatives of the class of educated blacks that Du Bois would later call the "talented tenth.” Du Bois felt that African Americans should fight for equal rights and higher opportunities, rather than passively submit to the segregation and discrimination of Washington's Atlanta Compromise. Washington was right that there is nothing wrong with economic development and he was wrong in advocating the Atlanta Compromise. DuBois was right to advocate for immediate political agitation for equality among black Americans and he was wrong to promote a “talented tenth” to govern the affairs of the black community. Both men were right that education was very important in the solution making process.

The lynching of Sam Hose in 1899 near Atlanta inspired DuBois to be more strident in social activism. Hose was tortured, burned, and hung by a mob of about 2,000 white people. When walking through Atlanta to discuss the lynching with newspaper editor Joel Chandler Harris, Du Bois encountered Hose's burned knuckles in a storefront display. The episode stunned Du Bois, and he resolved that "one could not be a calm, cool, and detached scientist while Negroes were lynched, murdered, and starved.” Du Bois realized that "the cure wasn't simply telling people the truth; it was inducing them to act on the truth.” In 1901, DuBois wrote a review critical of Washington’s autobiography Up From Slavery. He expanded and published it to a wider audience. This was his essay entitled, “Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others” in The Souls of Black Folk. Later in life, DuBois regretted having been critical of Washington in those essays. Booker T. Washington wanted African Americans to experience industrial education like agricultural and mechanical skills to prepare people to live in society.

DuBois felt that black people must focus on liberal arts and academic curriculum (like the classics, arts, and humanities), because he wanted liberal arts to be required to develop a leadership elite. Both men are correct. We must embrace both industrial education and liberal arts in order to be as fully educated as possible. As sociologist E. Franklin Frazier and economists Gunnar Myrdal and Thomas Sowell have argued, such disagreement over education was a minor point of difference between Washington and Du Bois; both men acknowledged the importance of the form of education that the other emphasized. Researchers like Sowell deduce that they had disagreements, but the real hardcore animosity was exhibited by the followers of Washington and DuBois not between both men themselves. In fact, Booker T. Washington would later fight for civil rights laws and voting rights by the time of his passing. DuBois made this observation of him having no massive hard feelings about Washington in an interview published in The Atlantic Monthly in November 1965. Therefore, folks shouldn't believe everything that they read.

Image result for web dubois niagara movement

WEB DuBois was part of the Niagara Movement. In 1905, he and many African American civil rights activists like Fredrick L. McGhee, Jesse Max Barber and William Monroe Trotter – met in Canada, near Niagara Falls. There they wrote a declaration of principles opposing the Atlanta Compromise, and incorporated as the Niagara Movement in 1906. Du Bois and the other "Niagarites" wanted to publicize their ideals to other African Americans, but most black periodicals were owned by publishers sympathetic to Washington. Du Bois bought a printing press and started publishing Moon Illustrated Weekly in December 1905. It was the first African-American illustrated weekly, and Du Bois used it to attack Washington's positions, but the magazine lasted only for about eight months. Du Bois soon founded and edited another vehicle for his polemics, The Horizon: A Journal of the Color Line, which debuted in 1907. Freeman H. M. Murray and Lafayette M. Hershaw served as The Horizon's co-editors. The Niagarites held a second conference in August 1906 in celebration of the 100th anniversary of abolitionist John Brown’s birth (at the West Virginia site of Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry).  Reverdy C. Ransom spoke and addressed the fact that Washington's primary goal was to prepare blacks for employment in their current society: "Today, two classes of Negroes, ... are standing at the parting of the ways. The one counsels patient submission to our present humiliations and degradations; ... The other class believe that it should not submit to being humiliated, degraded, and remanded to an inferior place ... it does not believe in bartering its manhood for the sake of gain."

The Souls of Black Folk was published by WEB DuBois in 1903. He wanted to show the genius of black people. It is a collection of 14 essays. James Weldon Johnson said that the book’s effect on African Americans was comparable to that of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  The introduction famously proclaimed that "the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line.” Each chapter begins with two epigraphs – one from a white poet, and one from a black spiritual – to demonstrate intellectual and cultural parity between black and white cultures. A major theme of the work was the double consciousness faced by African Americans: being both American and black. According to DuBois, this double consciousness was a unique identity that was a handicap in the past and it can be a strength in the future. He wrote the following: "Henceforth, the destiny of the race could be conceived as leading neither to assimilation nor separatism but to proud, enduring hyphenation." Jonathon S. Kahn in Divine Discontent: The Religious Imagination of Du Bois shows how Du Bois, in his The Souls of Black Folk, represents an exemplary text of pragmatic religious naturalism. On page 12 Kahn writes: "Du Bois needs to be understood as an African American pragmatic religious naturalist. By this I mean that, like Du Bois the American traditional pragmatic religious naturalism, which runs through William James, George Santayana and John Dewey, seeks religion without metaphysical foundations." Kahn's interpretation of religious naturalism is very broad but he relates it to specific thinkers. Du Bois's anti-metaphysical viewpoint places him in the sphere of religious naturalism as typified by William James and others.

Racial violence existed in Atlanta too. During the fall of 1906, many African Americans suffered violence at the hands of white racists. This caused more support for DuBois and his struggle for civil rights beyond Booker T. Washington’s accomodationism. President Teddy Roosevelt   discharged 167 black soldiers because they were accused of crimes as a result of the Brownsville Affair. Many of the discharged soldiers had served for 20 years and were near retirement. Second, in September, riots broke out in Atlanta, precipitated by unfounded allegations of black men assaulting white women. This was a catalyst for racial tensions based on a job shortage and employers playing black workers against white workers. Ten thousand whites rampaged through Atlanta, beating every black person they could find, resulting in over 25 deaths. In the aftermath of the 1906 violence, Du Bois urged blacks to withdraw their support from the Republican Party, because Republicans Roosevelt and William Howard Taft did not sufficiently support blacks. Most African Americans had been loyal to the Republican Party since the time of Abraham Lincoln back then. Du Bois wrote the essay, "A Litany at Atlanta", which asserted that the riot demonstrated that the Atlanta Compromise was a failure. Despite upholding their end of the bargain, blacks had failed to receive legal justice in the South. Historian David Lewis has written that the Compromise no longer held because white patrician planters, who took a paternalistic role, had been replaced by aggressive businessmen who were willing to pit blacks against whites. These two calamities were watershed events for the African-American community, marking the ascendancy of Du Bois's vision of equal rights.

DuBois continued to write scholarly literature at Atlanta University. By 1909, after five years of effort, he published a biography of the abolitionist John Brown. It had many insights and contained many factual errors. It was criticized by The Nation, which was owned by Oswald Villard, who was writing his own, competing biography of John Brown. Du Bois's work was largely ignored by white scholars. After publishing a piece in Collier's magazine warning of the end of "white supremacy", Du Bois had difficulty getting pieces accepted by major periodicals. But he did continue to publish columns regularly in The Horizon magazine.

Image result for web dubois the souls of black folk

WEB DuBois was the first African American who was invited by the American Historical Association (AHA) to present a paper at their annual conference. He read his paper called, Reconstruction and Its Benefits” to an astounded audience at the AHA’s December 1909 conference. The paper went against the mainstream historical view as promoted by the Dunning School of scholars at Columbia University (that Reconstruction was a disaster and the Dunning School believed in the racist lie that black people had ineptitude and sloth). To the contrary, Du Bois asserted that the brief period of African-American leadership in the South accomplished three important goals: democracy, free public schools, and new social welfare legislation.  He asserted that it was the federal government's failure to manage the Freedmen's Bureau, to distribute land, and to establish an educational system, that doomed African-American prospects in the South.  When Du Bois submitted the paper for publication a few months later in the American Historical Review, he asked that the word Negro be capitalized. The editor, J. Franklin Jameson, refused, and published the paper without the capitalization.  The paper was mostly ignored by white historians.  Du Bois later developed his paper as his ground-breaking 1935 book, Reconstruction, which marshaled extensive facts to support his assertions. The AHA did not invite another African-American speaker until 1940.

Image result for web dubois the crisisImage result for naacp silent march


In May of 1909, Du Bois attended the National Negro Conference in NYC. The meeting led to the creation of the National Negro Committee. It was chaired by Oswald Villard and was dedicated to the campaigning for civil rights, equal voting rights, and equal educational opportunities. The next spring in 1910, at the second Negro Conference, the attendees formed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People or the NAACP.  DuBois suggested to use the word “colored” instead of black, because he wanted to include people of color worldwide. Dozens of civil rights supporters (who were black people and white people including Mary Ovington, Charles Edward Russell, William English Walling, and its first President Moorfield Storey) were involved in the NAACP. NAACP leaders offered Du Bois the position of Director of Publicity and Research. He accepted the job during the summer of 1910. He moved to New York City after resigning from Atlanta University. His main duty was to edit the NAACP’s monthly magazine in which he named “The Crisis.” The first issue of The Crisis appeared in November 1910. Du Bois said that his aim was to set out, "those facts and arguments which show the danger of race prejudice, particularly as manifested today toward colored people.” The journal was phenomenally successful, and its circulation would reach 100,000 in 1920. Typical articles in the early editions included one that inveighed against the dishonesty and parochialism of some black churches, and one that discussed the Afrocentric origins of Egyptian civilization. Du Bois wrote a famous editorial in 1911 where he called for a nationwide push to push for the federal government to outlaw lynching.

Du Bois, employing the sarcasm he frequently used, commented on a lynching in Pennsylvania: "The point is he was black. Blackness must be punished. Blackness is the crime of crimes ... It is therefore necessary, as every white scoundrel in the nation knows, to let slip no opportunity of punishing this crime of crimes. Of course if possible, the pretext should be great and overwhelming – some awful stunning crime, made even more horrible by the reporters' imagination. Failing this, mere murder, arson, barn burning or impudence may do." The Crisis carried editorials by Du Bois that supported the ideals of unionized labor but excoriated the racism demonstrated by its leaders, who systematically excluded black people from membership. Du Bois also supported the principles of the Socialist Party (he was briefly a member of the party from 1910 to 1912), but he denounced the racism demonstrated by some socialist leaders. Frustrated by Republican President Taft's failure to address widespread lynching, Du Bois endorsed Democratic candidate Woodrow Wilson in the 1912 presidential race, in exchange for Wilson's promise to support black causes. As we know, Wilson was totally against black liberation and was a stone cold racist.

WEB DuBois wrote in support of women’s rights. He found it difficult to endorse the women right to vote movement because leaders of the suffragism movement in his view refused to support his fight against racial injustice. He is incorrect, because even if many suffrage leaders were racists against black people (which is very true), the overall cause of giving women the right to vote must be advanced. You can support women’s voting rights and abhor the racism among some suffrage leaders at the same time. He wrote about interracial marriage back in 1913 too. From the years 1915 to 1916, some leaders of the NAACP were disturbed by the financial losses of the Crisis. They were worried about the views of Du Bois. They wanted to oust Du Bois from his editorial position. Du Bois and his supporters prevailed and he continued in his role as editor.  In a 1919 column titled "The True Brownies", he announced the creation of The Brownies' Book, the first magazine published for African-American children and youth, which he founded with Augustus Granville Dill and Jessie Redmon Fauset. He worked hard during the 1910’s. In 1911, he attended the first Universal Races Congress in London.

He published his first novel called, “The Quest of the Silver Fleece.” 2 years later, Du Bois wrote, produced, and directed a pageant for the stage called, The Star of Ethiopia. In 1915, Du Bois published, “The Negro.” This was a general history of Black Africans and the first of its kind in English. The book refuted the lie of African inferiority and would come to serve as a basis of much of the Afrocentric historiography of the 20th century. The Negro predicted unity and solidarity for colored people around the world and it influenced many who advanced the Pan-African movement. In 1915, The Atlantic Monthly carried an essay by Du Bois, "The African Roots of the War", which consolidated Du Bois's ideas on capitalism and race. In it, he argued that the scramble for Africa was at the root of World War I. He also anticipated later Communist doctrine, by suggesting that wealthy capitalists had pacified white workers by giving them just enough wealth to prevent them from revolting, and by threatening them with competition by the lower-cost labor of people of color workers.

DuBois fought against racism too while he was in the NAACP. When the Birth of a Nation film premiered in 1915, DuBois and the NAACP led the fight to ban the movie, because of its racist portrayal of black people as brutish and lustful. The fight wasn’t successful, but the publicity drew new supporters to the NAACP. DuBois included photographs of the lynching of Jesse Washington in the June 1916 issue of The Crisis. Racism wasn’t just found in the private sector. It was found from the White House too. Under President Wilson, the plight of African Americans in government suffered. Many federal agencies adopted whites only employment practices.

Image result for african americans in wwiImage result for african americans in wwi

The Army excluded black people from officer ranks, and the immigration service prohibited the immigration of persons of African ancestry. Du Bois wrote an editorial in 1914 deploring the dismissal of blacks from federal posts, and he supported William Monroe Trotter when Trotter confronted Wilson about Wilson's failure to fulfill his campaign promise of justice for black human beings. The Crisis continued to fight lynching. In 1915, the Crisis published an article with a year by year tabulation of 2,732 lynchings from 1884 to 1914. The April 1916 edition covered the group lynching of six African Americans in Lee County, Georgia. Later in 1916, the "Waco Horror" article covered the lynching of Jesse Washington, a mentally impaired 17-year-old African American. The article broke new ground by utilizing undercover reporting to expose the conduct of local whites in Waco, Texas. The early 20th century was the era of the Great Migration of black Americans from the Southern United States to the Northeast, the Midwest, and the West. Du Bois wrote an editorial supporting the Great Migration. He believed that it would help black people escape Southern racism, find economic opportunities, and assimilate into American society. By the 1910’s, the evil American eugenics movement was in its infancy. Many leading eugenicists were openly racist and they believed in the lie that black people were “inferior.”

Du Bois opposed racism and the lie of black inferiority. Yet, he believed in one of the principles of the eugenics deception that different persons have different inborn characteristics that make them more or less suited for specific kinds of employment, and that by encouraging the most talented members of all races to procreate would better the "stocks" of humanity. I’m opposed to that lie, because all people are born equal and people have the right to be great irrespective of their income level or social status in life. The United States prepared to go into World War I in 1917. Du Bois’s colleague in the NAACP, Joel Elias Spingarn, established a camp to train African Americans to serve as officers in the U.S. military. The camp was controversial, because some whites felt that black people were not qualified to be officers (which is ludicrous). The white racists believed that African Americans should not participate in what they considered “a white man’s war.” Du Bois supported Spingram’s training camp, but he was disappointed when the Army forcibly retired one of its few black officers, Charles Young, on a pretense of ill health.

The Army agreed to create 1,000 officer positions for black people. Yet, they insisted that only 250 come from enlisted men, conditioned to taking orders from whites, rather than from independent-minded black people that came from the camp. Over 700,000 black people enlisted on the first day of the draft. They were subject to discriminatory conditions, which prompted vocal protests from Du Bois. After the East St. Louis riots occurred in the summer of 1917, Du Bois traveled to St. Louis to report on the riots. Between 40 and 250 African Americans were massacred by whites, primarily due to resentment caused by St. Louis industry hiring blacks to replace striking white workers. Du Bois's reporting resulted in an article "The Massacre of East St. Louis", published in the September issue of The Crisis, which contained photographs and interviews detailing the violence. Du Bois also organized the Silent Parade. This was a march of about 9,000 African Americans at Downtown New York City's Fifth Avenue, the first parade of its kind in New York City, and the second instance of blacks publicly demonstrating for civil rights. The Houston riot of 1917 disturbed Du Bois and was a major setback to efforts to permit African Americans to become military officers. The riot started after Houston police officers arrested and beat 2 black soldiers. In response, over 100 black soldiers took to the streets of Houston and killed 16 whites. Black people in Houston back then experienced Jim Crow and other forms of oppression. A military court martial was held, and 19 of the soldiers were hung, and 67 others were imprisoned. In spite of the Houston riot, Du Bois and others successfully pressed the Army to accept the officers trained at Spingarn's camp, resulting in over 600 black officers joining the Army in October 1917.

Federal officials were concerned about the progressive views shown by NAACP leaders. They wanted to frighten the NAACP by threatening them with investigations. Du Bois was not intimidated. In 1918, Du Bois predicted that World War I would lead to an overthrow of the European colonial system and to the liberation of the colored people worldwide in China, in India, and especially in America. NAACP chairman Joel Spingam was enthusiastic about the war. He persuaded Du Bois to consider an officer’s commission in the Army contingent on Du Bois writing an editorial repudiating his anti-war stance.  Du Bois accepted this bargain and wrote the pro-war "Close Ranks" editorial in June 1918 and soon thereafter he received a commission in the Army. Many black leaders, who wanted to leverage the war to gain civil rights for African Americans, criticized Du Bois for his sudden reversal. Southern officers in Du Bois's unit objected to his presence, and his commission was withdrawn.

When WWI ended, Du Bois traveled to Europe in 1919. He attended the first Pan-African Congress. He also interviewed African American soldiers for a planned book on their experiences in World War I. He was trailed by U.S. agents who were searching for evidence of treasonous activities. Du Bois discovered that the vast majority of black American soldiers were relegated to menial labor as stevedores and laborers. Some units were armed, and one in particular, the 92nd Division (the Buffalo soldiers), engaged in combat. Du Bois found out about the widespread racism in the Army. He concluded that the Army command discouraged black Americans from joining the Army, which promoted bigotry and disrespected the accomplishments of black soldiers. After returning from Europe, Du Bois was more determined to fight for equal rights for African Americans. Many black soldiers returned overseas and felt a new sense of power and worth. They were part of a new movement and attitude called the New Negro. They wanted justice.

In the editorial "Returning Soldiers" he wrote: "But, by the God of Heaven, we are cowards and jacka____ if, now that the war is over, we do not marshal every ounce of our brain and brawn to fight a sterner, longer, more unbending battle against the forces of hell in our own land." Many black people moved to northern cities for work. Some northern white workers didn’t like the competition. The labor strife was one of the causes of the Red Summer of 1919. This was about horrific race riots against black people in America. This caused over 300 African Americans to be killed in over 30 cities.  Du Bois documented the atrocities in the pages of the Crisis. This culminated in the December publication of a gruesome photograph of a lynching that occurred during the Omaha, Nebraska race riot. The most egregious episode during the Red Summer was a vicious attack on blacks in Elaine, Arkansas, in which nearly 200 blacks were murdered. Racists accused black people of starting the riot, which was a lie. So, DuBois refuted those lies by publishing a letter in the New York World, claiming that the only crime the black sharecroppers had committed was daring to challenge their white landlords by hiring an attorney to investigate contractual irregularities. Over 60 of the surviving black people were arrested and tried for conspiracy, in the case known as Moore v. Dempsey. Du Bois rallied black people across America to raise funds for the legal defense, which, six years later, resulted in a Supreme Court victory authored by Oliver Wendell Holmes. Although the victory had little immediate impact on justice for African Americans in the South, it marked the first time the Federal government used the 14th amendment guarantee of due process to prevent states from shielding mob violence.

In 1920, Du Bois published Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil. This was the first of three autobiographies he would write. The “veil” was that which covered people of color around the world. In the book, he hoped to lift the veil and show readers what life was like behind the veil and how it distorted the viewpoints of those looking through it in both directions. The book contained Du Bois's feminist essay, "The Damnation of Women", which was a tribute to the dignity and worth of women, particularly black women. He was concerned that textbooks used by African American children ignored black history and culture. So, DuBois created a monthly children’s magazine called, “The Brownies' Book.”  Initially published in 1920, it was aimed at black children, who Du Bois called "the children of the sun."

Image result for marcus garvey uniaImage result for marcus garvey unia

The image on the right shows a Marcus Garvey parade in 1924 in Harlem, NYC. 

Du Bois would soon encounter the movement of Marcus Garve. Du Bois traveled into Europe in 1921 to attend the second Pan-African Congress. The black leaders from around the world came there to issue the London Resolutions. They formed a Pan-African Association headquarters in Paris. Under DuBois’ guidance, the resolutions insisted on racial equality and that Africa should be ruled by Africans (not as in the 1919 congress, with the consent of Africans). Du Bois restated the resolutions of the congress in his Manifesto to the League of Nations. He wanted the newly formed League of Nations to address labor issues and appoint Africans to key posts. The League took little action on those requests. Marcus Garvey was a great, important Afro-Caribbean leader of the 1920’s. He promoted the Back to Africa movement and he founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association or the UNIA.  Garvey didn’t believe in Du Bois’ efforts to achieve equality through integration. He endorsed racial separatism. DuBois initially agreed with the concept of Garvey’s Black Star Line (which was a shipping company that was intended to facilitate commerce within the African Diaspora). Yet, Du Bois was later concerned that Garvey was threatening the NAACP’s efforts. Du Bois called him fraudulent and reckless.

There was a personal back and forth among DuBois and Garvey. DuBois was wrong to criticize Garvey in colorist terms. Responding to Garvey's slogan "Africa for the Africans", Du Bois said that he supported that concept, but denounced Garvey's intention that Africa be ruled by African Americans. Du Bois wrote a series of articles in The Crisis between 1922 and 1924 attacking Garvey's movement, calling him the "most dangerous enemy of the Negro race in America and the world." Du Bois and Garvey never made a serious attempt to collaborate, and their dispute was partly rooted in the desire of their respective organizations (NAACP and UNIA) to capture a larger portion of the available philanthropic funding. Garvey responded to DuBois in saying that he was the white man’s puppet. In the final analysis, Both DuBois and Garvey made their marks in black history and their excellent contributions must be acknowledged along with their errors. Harvard's decision to ban blacks from its dormitories in 1921 was decried by Du Bois as an instance of a broad effort in the U.S. to renew "the Anglo-Saxon cult; the worship of the Nordic totem, the disfranchisement of Negro, Jew, Irishman, Italian, Hungarian, Asiatic and South Sea Islander – the world rule of Nordic white through brute force."

Image result for dubois pan african conference

When Du Bois sailed for Europe in 1923 for the third Pan-African Congress, the circulation of The Crisis had declined to 60,000 from its World War I high of 100,000, but it remained the preeminent periodical of the civil rights movement. President Coolidge designated Du Bois an "Envoy Extraordinary" to Liberia and – after the third congress concluded – Du Bois rode a German freighter from the Canary Islands to Africa, visiting Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Senegal.

Du Bois saw the Harlem Renaissance grow. He promoted African American artistic expression in his writing. The Harlem Renaissance came about during the mid-1920’s. He wrote an article to celebrate the Harlem Renaissance entitled, “ A Negro Art Renaissance.” His enthusiasm for the Harlem Renaissance waned as he came to believe that many whites visited Harlem for voyeurism, not for genuine appreciation of black art. Du Bois insisted that artists recognize their moral responsibilities, writing that "a black artist is first of all a black artist." He was also concerned that black artists were not using their art to promote black causes, saying "I do not care a d___ for any art that is not used for propaganda.” By the end of 1926, he stopped employing The Crisis to support the arts. I disagree with that decision since the arts shown by black people must always be promoted and supported.

Image result for du Bois socialist party

By the time Du Bois was editor of the Crisis magazine in 1911, he joined the Socialist Party of America on the advice of NAACP founders Mary Ovington, William Walling, and Charles Edward Russell. I agree with WEB DuBois in his act of joining the Socialist Party of America. Yet, he supported the Democrat Woodrow Wilson in the 1912 presidential campaign. That was a breach of the rules, so he was forced to resign from the Socialist Party. Du Bois remained: "convinced that socialism was an excellent way of life, but I thought it might be reached by various methods." Nine years after the 1917 Russian Revolution, Du Bois took an extended trip to Europe. He visited the Soviet Union. Du Bois saw poverty and disorganization in the Soviet Union. Yet, he was impressed by the intense labors of the officials and by the recognition given to the workers. Although Du Bois was not yet familiar with the communist theories of Karl Marx or Vladimir Lenin, he concluded that socialism may be a better path towards racial equality than capitalism. Du Bois embraced many socialist principles and he was pragmatic in his politics too. He endorsed Democrat Jimmy Walker for mayor of New York City rather than the socialist Norman Thomas. He believed that Walker could do more immediate good for black people, even though Thomas' platform was more consistent with Du Bois's views. Throughout the 1920s, Du Bois and the NAACP shifted support back and forth between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, induced by promises from the candidates to fight lynchings, improve working conditions, or support voting rights in the South; invariably, the candidates failed to deliver on their promises.

By 1931, there was a rivalry between the NAACP and the Communist Party. The Communists were quick to support the Scottsboro Boys, nine African-American youth arrested in 1931 in Alabama for rape. Du Bois and the NAACP felt that the case would not be beneficial to their cause, so they chose to let the Communist Party organize the defense efforts. Du Bois was impressed with the vast amount of publicity and funds the Communists devoted to the partially successful defense effort, and he came to suspect that the Communists were attempting to present their party to African Americans as a better solution than the NAACP. Responding to criticisms of the NAACP from the Communist Party, Du Bois wrote articles condemning the party, claiming that it unfairly attacked the NAACP, and that it failed to fully appreciate racism in the United States. The Communist leaders, in turn, accused Du Bois of being a "class enemy", and claimed that the NAACP leadership was an isolated elite, disconnected from the working-class blacks they ostensibly fought for. This is ironic since DuBois would join the Communists just before he died.

Image result for du Bois 1935

Return to Atlanta

W.E.B. DuBois didn’t have a good working relationship with Walter Francis White or the President of the NAACP since 1931. This was a conflict combined with the financial stresses of the Great Depression caused a power struggle over the Crisis. Du Bois was concerned that his position as editor would be eliminated. That is why he resigned his job at The Crisis and accepted an academic position at Atlanta University in early 1933. The rift grew larger with the NAACP in 1934 when Du Bois reverses his stance temporary on segregation stating that, “separate but equal" was an acceptable goal for African Americans. The NAACP leadership was stunned, and asked Du Bois to retract his statement, but he refused, and the dispute led to Du Bois's resignation from the NAACP. He had a new professsionship in Atlanta. Du Bois wrote a series of articles generally supportive of Marxism. He was not a strong proponent of labor unions or the Communist Party, but he felt that Marx's scientific explanation of society and the economy were useful for explaining the situation of African Americans in the United States. Marx’s atheism struck a chord with him since Du Bois criticized some black churches for dulling black people’s sensitivity to racism. In his 1933 writings, Du Bois embraced socialism, but asserted that "[c]olored labor has no common ground with white labor", a controversial position that was rooted in Du Bois's dislike of American labor unions, which had systematically excluded blacks for decades.  Du Bois did not support the Communist Party in the U.S. and did not vote for their candidate in the 1932 presidential election, in spite of an African American on their ticket.

Now, he is in the world of academia. Du Bois was able to resume his study of Reconstruction. He presented a 1910 topic on a paper that he presented to the American Historical Association. In 1935, he published his magnum opus, “Black Reconstruction in America.” A magnum opus is a work by a person that represents his or her best work in terms of literature.The book showed the resiliency of the black community after the Civil War and the still oppressive conditions of America.  Du Bois documented how black people were central figures in the American Civil War and Reconstruction, and also showed how they made alliances with white politicians. He provided evidence that the coalition governments established public education in the South, and many needed social service programs. The book also demonstrated the ways in which black emancipation – the crux of Reconstruction – promoted a radical restructuring of United States society, as well as how and why the country failed to continue support for civil rights for blacks in the aftermath of Reconstruction. Back then, many white historians believed that Reconstruction was a total failure and some even were neo-Confederates. The book back then was ignored by mainstream historians until the 1960’s.

By the 1960’s, the book caused more people see how black people fought for freedom and Reconstruction brought many changes in American society. By the 21st century, Black Reconstruction is shown as a very important work on African American history. In the final chapter of the book, "XIV. The Propaganda of History", Du Bois evokes his efforts at writing an article for the Encyclopædia Britannica on the "history of the American Negro". After the editors had cut all reference to Reconstruction, he insisted that the following note appear in the entry: "White historians have ascribed the faults and failures of Reconstruction to Negro ignorance and corruption. But the Negro insists that it was Negro loyalty and the Negro vote alone that restored the South to the Union; established the new democracy, both for white and black, and instituted the public schools." The editors refused and, so, Du Bois withdrew his article.

In 1932, Du Bois was selected by several philanthropies including the Phelps-Stokes Fund, the Carnegie Corporation, and the General Education Board to be the managing editor for a proposed Encyclopedia of the Negro. This was a plan of Du Bois for over 30 years. After several years of planning and organizing, the philanthropies cancelled the project in 1938, because some board members believed that Du Bois was too biased to produce an objective encyclopedia. Du Bois traveled the world in 1936. He visited Nazi Germany, China, and Japan. Du Bois said that he was treated with respect in Germany. He came back to America. Du Bois saw the Germany economy, but he was horrified at the Nazi treatment of Jewish people. This attack on Jewish people was said by Du Bois as, “an attack on civilization, comparable only to such horrors as the Spanish Inquisition and the African slave trade." Following the 1905 Japanese victory in the Russo-Japanese War, Du Bois became impressed by the growing strength of Imperial Japan. He considered the victory of Japan over Tsarist Russia as an example of colored peoples defeating white peoples.

Image result for web dubois in japan

A representative of Japan's "Negro Propaganda Operations" traveled to the United States during the 1920's and 1930's, meeting with Du Bois and giving him a positive impression of Imperial Japan's racial policies. In 1936, the Japanese ambassador arranged a trip to Japan for Du Bois and a small group of academics. Du Bois opposed the U.S. intervention in World War II, especially in the Pacific. The reason was that he believed that China and Japan were emerging from the clutches from white imperialists. He believed that the European Allies waging war against Japan was an opportunity for whites to reestablish their influence in Asia. He was deeply disappointed by the US government's plan for African Americans in the armed forces: Blacks were limited to 5.8% of the force, and there were to be no African-American combat units – virtually the same restrictions as in World War I. With blacks threatening to shift their support to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Republican opponent in the 1940 election, Roosevelt appointed a few black people to leadership posts in the military.

Dusk of Dawn, Du Bois's second autobiography, was published in 1940. The title refers to Du Bois's hope that African Americans were passing out of the darkness of racism into an era of greater equality. The work is part autobiography, part history, and part sociological treatise. Du Bois described the book as "the autobiography of a concept of race [...] elucidated and magnified and doubtless distorted in the thoughts and deeds which were mine [...] Thus for all time my life is significant for all lives of men."

In 1943, at the age of 76, Du Bois was fired from his position at Atlanta University by college president Rufus Clement. Many scholars expressed outrage, prompting Atlanta University to provide Du Bois with a lifelong pension and the title of professor emeritus. Arthur Spingarn remarked that Du Bois spent his time in Atlanta "battering his life out against ignorance, bigotry, intolerance and slothfulness, projecting ideas nobody but he understands, and raising hopes for change which may be comprehended in a hundred years."

Turning down job offers from Fisk and Howard, Du Bois re-joined the NAACP as director of the Department of Special Research. Surprising many NAACP leaders, Du Bois jumped into the job with vigor and determination. During the 10 years while Du Bois was away from the NAACP, its income had increased fourfold, and its membership had soared to 325,000 members.

Image result for du Bois 1935Image result for united nations du bois

Later Life

During the later years of his life (from 1945 to 1963), W.E.B. DuBois continued to live his life. He was a member of the three person delegation from the NAACP that attended the 1945 conference in San Francisco. This was the location where the United Nations was established. The NAACP delegation was clear to desire that the U.N. ought to promote racial equality and bring an end to the colonial era. Therefore, DuBois pushed a drafted proposal that pronounced unequivocally that, "[t]he colonial system of government [...] is undemocratic, socially dangerous and a main cause of wars.” The NAACP proposal was supported by China, Russia, and India. Yet, it was virtually ignored by the other major powers. The NAACP proposals were not included in the United Nations charter. After the United Nations conference, Du Bois published his book entitled, “Color and Democracy: Colonies and Peace.” This book attacked rightfully the colonial empires. One reviewer mentioned the following words about the book, “contains enough dynamite to blow up the whole vicious system whereby we have comforted our white souls and lined the pockets of generations of free-booting capitalists." In late 1945, he attended the fifth and final Pan-African Congress in Manchester, England. The congress was the most productive of the five congresses. DuBois met Kwame Nkrumah, who was the future first President of Ghana. He would later invite Du Bois to Africa. DuBois continued to send petitions to the UN relating to fighting against discrimination, which harmed African Americans. His most noteworthy petition was the NAACP's "An Appeal to the World: A Statement on the Denial of Human Rights to Minorities in the Case of Citizens of Negro Descent in the United States of America and an Appeal to the United Nations for Redress.”

This advocacy laid the foundation for the later report and petition called "We Charge Genocide", submitted in 1951 by the Civil Rights Congress. "We Charge Genocide" accused the U.S. of systematically sanctioning murders and inflicting harm against African Americans and therefore committing genocide. The Cold War started during the mid-1940’s. The NAACP by this time distanced itself from the Communists, because they had a fear of losing funding or its reputation. The NAACP became a stronger anti-Communist campaign by 1947. This came about after Life magazine in the same year published a piece by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. claiming that the NAACP was heavily influenced by Communists. WEB DuBois continued to fraternize with communist sympathizers like Paul Robeson, Howard Fast, and Shirley Graham (his future second wife). Back then, Du Bois wrote "I am not a communist [...] On the other hand, I [...] believe [...] that Karl Marx [...] put his finger squarely upon our difficulties [...]." In 1946, Du Bois wrote articles giving his assessment of the Soviet Union. Back then, he did not embrace communism and he criticized Stalin's dictatorship. However, he felt that capitalism was responsible for poverty and racism, and felt that socialism was an alternative that might ameliorate those problems. The Soviets explicitly rejected racial distinctions and class distinction. DuBois felt that the USSR was the most hopeful country on Earth back then. He associated with many communists. The NAACP started to oppose DuBois because of this. The FBI started to aggressively investigate communist sympathizers. DuBois resigned from the NAACP for a second time in late 1948.

After departing the NAACP, Du Bois started writing regularly for the leftist weekly newspaper the National Guardian, a relationship that would endure until 1961. W.E.B. DuBois was a lifelong anti-war activist. He continued in his anti-war activist after World War II. By 1949, DuBois spoke at the Scientific and Cultural Conference for World Peace in New York: "I tell you, people of America, the dark world is on the move! It wants and will have Freedom, Autonomy and Equality. It will not be diverted in these fundamental rights by dialectical splitting of political hairs [...] Whites may, if they will, arm themselves for suicide. But the vast majority of the world's peoples will march on over them to freedom!" In the spring of 1949, he spoke at the Peace in Paris, saying to the large crowd: "Leading this new colonial imperialism comes my own native land built by my father's toil and blood, the United States. The United States is a great nation; rich by grace of God and prosperous by the hard work of its humblest citizens [...] Drunk with power we are leading the world to hell in a new colonialism with the same old human slavery which once ruined us; and to a third World War which will ruin the world." Du Bois affiliated himself with a leftist organization, the National Council of Arts, Sciences and Professions, and he traveled to Moscow as its representative to speak at the All-Soviet Peace Conference in late 1949.

By the 1950’s, there was the U.S. government’s anti-communist McCarthyism campaign. It targeted Du Bois because of his socialist views.  Historian Manning Marable characterized the government's treatment of Du Bois as "ruthless repression" and a "political assassination.” The FBI had a file on him since 1942. During the early 1950’s, the government attacked him aggressively also because of Du Bois’s opposition to nuclear weapons. In 1950, he was the chairman of the nearly created Peace Information Center (PIC). It wanted to work to publicize the Stockholm Peace Appeal in America. The primary purpose of the appeal was to gather signatures on a petition, asking governments around the world to ban all nuclear weapons. The U.S. Justice Department accused the PIC of acting as an agent of a foreign state. So, they wanted to require the PIC to register with the federal government. DuBois and PIC leaders refused to do it. So, they were indicted for failure to register.

After the indictment, many of DuBois’s associates distanced themselves from him. The NAACP refused to issue a statement of support. Many labor leaders and leftists like Langston Hughes supported Du Bois. He was finally tried in 1951 and he was represented by civil rights attorney Vito Marcantonio. The case was dismissed before the jury rendered a verdict as soon as the defense attorney told the judge that "Dr. Albert Einstein has offered to appear as character witness for Dr. Du Bois.” Du Bois's memoir of the trial is In Battle for Peace. Even though Du Bois was not convicted, the government confiscated Du Bois's passport and withheld it for eight years. Du Bois was disappointed that many of his colleagues (including members from the NAACP) didn’t support him during his 1951 PIC trial. Working class black people and white people supported him a lot. After the trial, DuBois lived in Manhattan. He wrote and spoke. He associated with mostly leftist acquaintances. He wanted world peace. He opposed the Korean War and other military actions. He viewed the Korean War as efforts by imperialist whites to maintain people of color in a submissive state. In 1950, at the age of 82, Du Bois ran for U.S. Senator from New York on the American Labor Party ticket and received about 200,000 votes, or 4% of the statewide total. Du Bois believed that capitalism was the major reason why imperialism existed against people of color worldwide. He recognized the errors of the Soviet Union, but he believed that communism was a possible solution to racial problems.  In the words of biographer David Lewis, Du Bois did not endorse communism for its own sake, but did so because "the enemies of his enemies were his friends.” In 1940, he called Stalin a tyrant and by 1953 (when Stalin died), he praised him. For the record, Stalin was an authoritarian tyrant and many Trotskyites and other socialists disagreed with Stalin's anti-liberty policies.

 A portrait of an elderly African American man

Image result for dubois ghana
The United States government prevented DuBois from going into the 1955 Bandung Conference in Indonesia. The conference was the culmination of 40 years of Du Bois’s dreams. It was made up of a meeting of 29 nations from Africa and Asia, many recently independent, representing most of the world's people of color.  The conference celebrated their independence, as the nations began to assert their power as non-aligned nations during the Cold War. In other words, the Non-Aligned movement didn't want to be dominated politically by the capitalists or the communists. In 1958, Du Bois regained his passport, and with his second wife, Shirley Graham Du Bois, he traveled around the world, visiting Russia and China. In both countries, he was celebrated and given guided tours of the best aspects of communism. Du Bois later wrote approvingly of the conditions in both countries. He was 90 years old. Du Bois was incensed in 1961 when U.S. Supreme Court upheld the 1950 McCarran Act, a key piece of McCarthyism legislation which required communists to register with the government. To demonstrate his outrage, he joined the Communist Party in October 1961, at the age of 93.

Around that time, he wrote: "I believe in communism. I mean by communism, a planned way of life in the production of wealth and work designed for building a state whose object is the highest welfare of its people and not merely the profit of a part." Ghana invited Du Bois to Africa to participate in their independence celebration in 1957. He was unable to attend, because the U.S. government had confiscated his passport in 1951. By 1960 – the "Year of Africa" – Du Bois had recovered his passport, and was able to cross the Atlantic and celebrate the creation of the Republic of Ghana. Du Bois returned to Africa in late 1960 to attend the inauguration of Nnamdi Azikiwe as the first African governor of Nigeria. While visiting Ghana in 1960, Du Bois spoke with its president about the creation of a new encyclopedia of the African diaspora or the Encyclopedia Africana. In early 1961, Ghana notified Du Bois that they had appropriated funds to support the encyclopedia project, and they invited Du Bois to come to Ghana and manage the project there.

Image result for dubois ghana

In October 1961, at the age of 93, Du Bois and his wife traveled to Ghana to take up residence and commence work on the encyclopedia. In early 1963, the United States refused to renew his passport, so he made the symbolic gesture of becoming a citizen of Ghana. While it is sometimes stated that he renounced his U.S. citizenship at that time, and he did state his intention to do so, Du Bois never actually did. His health declined during the two years he was in Ghana, and he died on August 27, 1963, in the capital of Accra at the age of 95. Du Bois was buried in Accra near his home, which is now the Du Bois Memorial Centre. A day after his death, at the March on Washington, speaker Roy Wilkins asked the hundreds of thousands of marchers to honor Du Bois with a moment of silence. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, embodying many of the reforms Du Bois had campaigned for his entire life, was enacted almost a year after his death.

Image result for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dubois speechImage result for dr king carnegie hall

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Excellent tribute to W.E.B. DuBois (in 1968)

One of the most unsung events during the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was his speech on February 23, 1968 where he celebrated the centennial birth of the late W.E.B. DuBois. He gave his speech in Carnegie Hall in New York City. By this time, Dr. King was very melancholy, because he experienced massive criticism over his heroic opposition to the Vietnam War. The establishment media and reactionaries unjustly criticized Dr. King's anti-war views. Dr. King traveled the nation to advocate for social justice. He gave his Drum Major speech on February 4, 1968, which described humbleness, and non-arrogance as a prerequisite for true greatness and powerful human character. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was opposed by the far right wing for going in the direction of promoting the Poor People's Campaign, opposing the war in Vietnam, and supporting economic justice. He was criticized by many who rejected his message of nonviolence when those critics ignored his anti-imperialism message and his advocacy for social justice. One thing that Dr. King did was that he never disrespected his critics in public. He took the high road. Therefore, Dr. King was sad during this time of his life, but still passionate to support human freedom. Ironically, W.E.B. DuBois was heavily criticized by the political establishment in America because of his advocacy for peace and an end to colonial oppression (by the Western powers, who opposed the movements of Lumumba and other freedom fighters). Dr. King was illegally monitored constantly by the FBI.

Like Dr. King, DuBois was criticized by many in the government for his views on foreign policy. Dr. King gave an eloquent, ahead of its time speech on February 23, 1968. Dr. King acknowledged the black radical tradition in that W.E.B. DuBois was a socialist in his life and later became a Communist just before he passed away in 1963. Dr. King believed in the right of anyone to have ideological diversity. Claudia Jones and Paul Robeson are some of the greatest black social activists in history and they were Communists too. Even Karl Marx exchanged letters with Abraham Lincoln in a cogent fashion. Dr. King condemned a kind of vicious, virulent anti-Communist thinking (like McCarthyism) that contributed to foreign policy quagmires in our nation's history. He ended his speech with a call to action in promoting economic justice and racial justice. His final words include the following:

"...In conclusion let me say that Dr. Du Bois’ greatest virtue was his committed empathy with all the oppressed and his divine dissatisfaction with all forms of injustice. Today we are still challenged to be dissatisfied. Let us be dissatisfied until every man can have food and material necessities for his body, culture and education for his mind, freedom and until rat-infested, vermin-filled slums will be a thing of a dark past and every family will have a decent, sanitary house in which to live. Let us be dissatisfied until the empty stomachs of Mississippi are filled and the idle industries of Appalachia are revitalized.

Let us be dissatisfied until brotherhood is no longer a meaningless word at the end of a prayer but the first order of business on every legislative agenda. Let us be dissatisfied until our brother of the Third World- Asia, Africa, and Latin America-will no longer be the victim of imperialist exploitation, but will be lifted from the long night of poverty, illiteracy, and disease. Let us be dissatisfied until this pending cosmic elegy will be transformed into a creative psalm of peace and “justice will roll down like waters from a mighty stream..."

I agree with Dr. King's statement 100%. We are always inspired to recognize and love the intellectual, transcendent contributions of people of black African descent. The revolutionary ethos of the black collective is always cherished by me and others who love genuine human liberation.

Image result for web dubois and his family

This picture shows W.E.B Du Bois and some of his Fisk University class of 1888.

Conclusion (DuBois)

After almost 150 years after the birth of Brother W. E. B. Du Bois, we see many changes in our world. We see the life expectancy among black Americans including all Americans increase since the time of his birth. There are numerous advanced technological marvels (from I-Phones, international air travel, and to other digital devices) and new leaders for social change constantly emerging. Also, as the saying goes, the more things change, the more that they stay the same. We (like the 19th century) have continued systematic racism, sexism, economic injustices, and xenophobia. We witness continued threats against the lives of black people from police brutality to financial corruption. We witness overt gentrification nationwide as well. That is why the literature and the ideologies of Dr. Mr. W. E. B. Du Bois are relevant today, because they teach us about the values of social justice, self-determination, and sociological studies. W. E. B. Du Bois wasn't just a researcher or a professor among universities during his lifetime. He was a social activist too. He opposed imperialism, lynching, racism, capitalist exploitation, and the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (via atomic weapons) in public. By the 1960's, he became a Communist.

His revolutionary spirit or ethos never was relinquished from his thinking. He persisted despite the odds and despite the horrendous surveillance from the U.S. intelligence community. He made errors, but he also stood firmly on the transcendent, monumental, and excellent principles of justice, equality, and liberation (in dealing with Africans and peoples of color) against colonialism. He believed in pan-African unity (as whether we are African Americans, Africans, Afro-British, or Afro-Caribbeans, we are all Brothers and Sisters) and he loved socialism. He loved Africa deeply as we all do. Africa is the Motherland. It is fitting that he visited Ghana to do human research (in forming an African encyclopedia) and to celebrate its independence during the 1960's. He lived to see Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and he wrote about him too. W.E.B. DuBois was a legend of the ages and his invaluable, undeniable contributions to the black American tradition will never be forgotten.

Rest in Power Brother William Edward Burghardt DuBois.

By Timothy

No comments: