W.E.B. Du Bois was one of the leading minds who fought ardently for the freedom of black people in the 19th and 20th centuries. Read more about the legendary leader!
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois aka W. E. B. Du Bois may have been the most significant leader for African-Americans and their long fight for freedom.
W. E. B. Du Bois was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, on February 23rd, 1868, while he grew up in an integrated community.
His time at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, had opened his eyes to racism in its ugliest forms. At the time, the South was rife with racism, including lynching and Jim Crow Laws.
After traveling throughout Europe as a student, W. E. B. Du Bois returned to complete his Ph.D. at Harvard in 1895, making him the first African American to earn a Ph.D. from the prestigious Ivy League school.
After traveling throughout Europe and staying in Germany for several years, he returned to the United States and accepted a role as a professor at Atlanta University in Georgia.
Du Bois published several academic works focusing on the study of African Americans and many other social science papers, including the groundbreaking study “The Philadelphia Negro” in 1899.
Having established himself as one of the foremost spokespeople for his race, Du Bois had addressed many events worldwide and coined the term “The Talented Tenth. The concept was that one in ten Black men had been educated at college and, therefore, were in positions to become leaders for the Black community’s fight for freedom.
W. E. B. Du Bois’ inspiration for activism was initially stirred by another spokesperson: Booker T. Washington, who created the concept called Atlanta Compromise during a speech. But the two men disagreed on the philosophy.
The Atlanta Compromise referred to Washington’s idea that Southern blacks would live segregated from whites as long whites in the South guaranteed educational and economic opportunities.
Having felt that African Americans needed to fight for equal rights rather than submitting to segregation, the lynching of Sam Hose in 1899 solidified in his mind that it was time to act on the truth.
This urge to fight for full rights led Du Bois to become a founder of the legendary Niagra Movement in 1905. In 1909, he became one of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) founders.
After creating the NAACP, W. E. B. Du Bois became the Director of Publicity and Research for the organization, where he edited the monthly magazine known as The Crisis. Using The Crisis as a stimulus for change, he aimed to highlight the arguments showing the danger of racial prejudice, leading the magazine to become successful.
Using his position in the NAACP, Du Bois opposed several racist incidents, including the lynching of Jesse Washington. The Crisis broke new ground by using undercover reporting.
Throughout his life, W. E. B. Du Bois had fought hard for equal rights and ingratiated himself with a number of movements, including socialism.
Upon being invited to Ghana to start work on the Encyclopedia Africana, W. E. B. Du Bois died in Accra on August 27th, 1963.
The next day at the March on Washington, he was honored with a moment of silence, and in 1964 the Civil Rights Act, which embodied many of the reforms he had campaigned for, was enacted.
W. E. B. Du Bois was one of the first spokespeople for Civil Rights.
He has an extraordinary place in Black History. His tireless campaigning laid the foundations for the Civil Rights movement for African-Americans in the 20th century.