Today In Black History: W.E.B. Du Bois

On this date in 1868 William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Du Bois is arguably the most prominent black intellectual leader and political activist of the 20th century. He was one of the fathers of "Pan-Africanism" and was constantly looking for ways to improve the way of life for blacks worldwide. Du Bois was a leader of the first Pan-African Conference in London in 1900 and the architect of four Pan-African Congresses held between 1919 and 1927. He often gets some flack for his idea of a "black talented tenth", however in his later life, W.E.B. Du Bois recognized that leadership could arise from many levels, and grassroots efforts were also important to social change. His legendary book The Souls Of Black Folks was one the greatest books ever written on race in America its affect on blacks in America. At first Du Bois had believed that social science could provide the knowledge to solve the race problem which clashed with Booker T. Washington, who was advocating a philosophy of accommodation, urging blacks to accept discrimination for the time being and elevate themselves through hard work and economic gain. Du Bois charged that Washington's strategy, rather than freeing the Black man from oppression, would serve only to perpetuate it. This attack crystallized the opposition to Booker T. Washington among many Black intellectuals, polarizing the leaders of the black community into two wings. In 1905, Du Bois took the lead in founding the Niagara Movement, which was dedicated chiefly to attacking the platform of Booker T. Washington. These meeting would go on to set the ideological platform for the interracial NAACP which was founded in 1909. He would serve as editor of their magazine The Crisis until 1934 when he left the NAACP yielding his influence as a race leader and charging that the organization was dedicated to the interests of the Black bourgeoisie and ignored the problems of the masses. Du Bois was invited to Ghana in 1961 by President Kwame Nkrumah and became a citizen of Ghana, a land which he would go on stay in until his death at the age 95 in 1963.

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