|Name:||W. E. B. Du Bois|
|Birth Day:||February 23, 1868|
|Death Date:||August 27, 1963(1963-08-27) (aged 95)
|Birth Place:||Great Barrington, Ghana|
|Height:||in centimeters - N/A|
|Weight:||in kg - N/A|
As per our current Database, W. E. B. Du Bois died on August 27, 1963(1963-08-27) (aged 95)
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was born on February 23, 1868, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, to Alfred and Mary Silvina (née 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 late 18th century. His son Jack Burghardt was the father of Othello Burghardt, who in turn was the father of Mary Silvina Burghardt.
In 1889, Du Bois became eligible to vote at the age of 21. During his life he followed the philosophy of voting for third parties if the Democratic and Republican parties were unsatisfactory; or voting for the lesser of two evils if a third option was not available.
Relying on money donated by neighbors, Du Bois attended Fisk University, a historically black college in Nashville, Tennessee, from 1885 to 1888. His travel to and residency in the South was Du Bois's first experience with Southern racism, which at the time encompassed Jim Crow laws, bigotry, suppression of black voting, and lynchings; the lattermost reached a peak in the next decade. After receiving a bachelor's degree from Fisk, he attended Harvard College (which did not accept course credits from Fisk) from 1888 to 1890, where he was strongly influenced by professor William James, prominent in American philosophy. Du Bois paid his way through three years at Harvard with 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, Du Bois received a fellowship from the John F. Slater Fund for the Education of Freedmen to attend the University of Berlin for graduate work. While a student in Berlin, he traveled extensively throughout Europe. He came of age intellectually in the German capital while studying with some of that nation's most prominent social scientists, including Gustav von Schmoller, Adolph Wagner, and Heinrich von Treitschke. He wrote about his time in Germany: "I found myself on the outside of the American world, looking in. With me were white folk – students, acquaintances, teachers – who viewed the scene with me. They did not always pause to regard me as a curiosity, or something sub-human; I was just a man of the somewhat privileged student rank, with whom they were glad to meet and talk over the world; particularly, the part of the world whence I came." After returning from Europe, Du Bois completed his graduate studies; in 1895 he was the first African American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University.
In the first decade of the new century, Du Bois emerged as a spokesperson for his race, second only to Booker T. Washington. Washington was the director of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, and wielded tremendous influence within the African-American and white communities. Washington was the architect of the Atlanta Compromise, an unwritten deal that he had struck in 1895 with Southern white leaders who dominated state governments after Reconstruction. Essentially the agreement provided that Southern blacks, 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.
In the summer of 1894, Du Bois received several job offers, including from the prestigious Tuskegee Institute; he accepted a teaching job at Wilberforce University in Ohio. At Wilberforce, Du Bois was strongly influenced by Alexander Crummell, who believed that ideas 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.
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.
In July 1897, Du Bois left Philadelphia and took a professorship in history and economics at the historically black Atlanta University in Georgia. His first major academic work was his book The Philadelphia Negro (1899), a detailed and comprehensive sociological study of the African-American people of Philadelphia, based on his field work in 1896–1897. This breakthrough in scholarship was the first scientific study of African Americans and a major contribution to early scientific sociology in the U.S. In the study, Du Bois coined the phrase "the submerged tenth" to describe the black underclass. Later in 1903 he popularized the term, the "Talented Tenth", applied to society's elite class. His terminology reflected his opinion that the elite of a nation, both black and white, were critical to achievements in culture and progress. During this period he wrote dismissively of the underclass, describing them as "lazy" or "unreliable", but – in contrast to other scholars – he attributed many of their societal problems to the ravages of slavery.
After two years at Wilberforce, Du Bois accepted a one-year research job from the University of Pennsylvania as an "assistant in sociology" in the summer of 1896. He performed sociological field research in Philadelphia's African-American neighborhoods, which formed the foundation for his landmark study, The Philadelphia Negro, published in 1899 while he was teaching at Atlanta University. It was the first case study of a black community in the United States. By the 1890s, Philadelphia's black neighborhoods had a negative reputation in terms of crime, poverty, and mortality. Du Bois's book undermined the stereotypes with empirical evidence and shaped his approach to segregation and its negative impact on black lives and reputations. The results led him to realize that racial integration was the key to democratic equality in American cities. The methodology employed in The Philadelphia Negro, namely the description and the mapping of social characteristics onto neighborhood areas was a forerunner to the studies under the Chicago School of Sociology.
Du Bois was inspired to greater activism by the lynching of Sam Hose, which occurred near Atlanta in 1899. Hose was tortured, burned and hung by a mob of two thousand whites. 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".
Du Bois attended the First Pan-African Conference, held in London on 23−25 July 1900, shortly ahead of the Paris Exhibition of 1900 ("to allow tourists of African descent to attend both events".) The Conference had been organized by people from the Caribbean: Haitians Anténor Firmin and Bénito Sylvain and Trinidadian barrister Henry Sylvester Williams. Du Bois played a leading role in drafting a letter ("Address to the Nations of the World"), asking European leaders 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 1960s.
In 1901, Du Bois wrote a review critical of Washington's autobiography Up from Slavery, which he later expanded and published to a wider audience as the essay "Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others" in The Souls of Black Folk. Later in life, Du Bois regretted having been critical of Washington in those essays. One of the contrasts between the two leaders was their approach to education: Washington felt that African-American schools should focus primarily on industrial education topics such as agricultural and mechanical skills, to prepare southern blacks for the opportunities in the rural areas where most lived. Du Bois felt that black schools should focus more on liberal arts and academic curriculum (including the classics, arts, and humanities), because liberal arts were required to develop a leadership elite. However, 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. Sowell has also argued that, despite genuine disagreements between the two leaders, the supposed animosity between Washington and Du Bois actually formed among their followers, not between Washington and Du Bois themselves. Du Bois also made this observation in an interview published in The Atlantic Monthly in November 1965.
In 1905, Du Bois and several other African-American civil rights activists – including Fredrick L. McGhee, Jesse Max Barber and William Monroe Trotter – met in Canada, near Niagara Falls, where they wrote a declaration of principles opposing the Atlanta Compromise, and which were incorporated as the Niagara Movement in 1906. They wanted to publicize their ideals to other African Americans, but most black periodicals were owned by publishers sympathetic to Washington, so 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.
Following the 1905 Japanese victory in the Russo-Japanese War, Du Bois became impressed by the growing strength of Imperial Japan. He came to view the ascendant Japanese Empire as an antidote to Western imperialism, arguing over for over three decades after the war that its rise represented a chance to break the monopoly that white nations had on international affairs. A representative of Japan's "Negro Propaganda Operations" traveled to the United States during the 1920s and 1930s, meeting with Du Bois and giving him a positive impression of Imperial Japan's racial policies.
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, explaining 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."
In addition to writing editorials, Du Bois continued to produce scholarly work at Atlanta University. In 1909, after five years of effort, he published a biography of abolitionist John Brown. It contained many insights, but also contained some factual errors. The work was strongly criticized by The Nation, which was owned by Oswald Villard, who was writing his own, competing biography of John Brown. Possibly as a result, 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, although he did continue to publish columns regularly in The Horizon magazine.
In May 1909, Du Bois attended the National Negro Conference in New York. The meeting led to the creation of the National Negro Committee, chaired by Oswald Villard, and dedicated to campaigning for civil rights, equal voting rights, and equal educational opportunities. The following spring, in 1910, at the second National Negro Conference, the attendees created the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). At Du Bois's suggestion, the word "colored", rather than "black", was used to include "dark skinned people everywhere". Dozens of civil rights supporters, black and white, participated in the founding, but most executive officers were white, including Mary Ovington, Charles Edward Russell, William English Walling, and its first president, Moorfield Storey.
NAACP leaders offered Du Bois the position of Director of Publicity and Research. He accepted the job in the summer of 1910, and moved to New York after resigning from Atlanta University. His primary duty was editing the NAACP's monthly magazine, which he named The Crisis. The first issue appeared in November 1910, and Du Bois wrote that its 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 polemics against the dishonesty and parochialism of black churches, and disussions on the Afrocentric origins of Egyptian civilization.
A 1911 Du Bois editorial helped initiate a nationwide push to induce 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 1910s were a productive time for Du Bois. In 1911 he attended the First Universal Races Congress in London and he published his first novel, The Quest of the Silver Fleece. Two years later, Du Bois wrote, produced, and directed a pageant for the stage, The Star of Ethiopia. In 1915, Du Bois published The Negro, a general history of black Africans, and the first of its kind in English. The book rebutted claims of African inferiority, and would come to serve as the basis of much Afrocentric historiography in the 20th century. The Negro predicted unity and solidarity for colored people around the world, and it influenced many who supported the Pan-African movement.
When Du Bois became editor of The Crisis magazine in 1911, he joined the Socialist Party of America on the advice of NAACP founders Mary Ovington, William English Walling and Charles Edward Russell. However, he supported the Democrat Woodrow Wilson in the 1912 presidential campaign, a breach of the rules, and was forced to resign from the Socialist Party. In 1913, his support for Wilson was shaken when racial segregation in government hiring was reported. Du Bois remained "convinced that socialism was an excellent way of life, but I thought it might be reached by various methods."
The Crisis carried Du Bois editorials supporting the ideals of unionized labor but denouncing its leaders' racism; blacks were barred from membership. Du Bois also supported the principles of the Socialist Party (he held party membership 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.
During the 1912 presidential election, Du Bois supported Woodrow Wilson, the Democratic nominee, as he believed Wilson was a "liberal Southerner" although he had wanted to support Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressive Party, but the Progressives ignored issues facing black people. He later regretted his decision, as he came to the conclusion that Wilson was opposed to racial equality. During the 1916 presidential election he supported Charles Evans Hughes, the Republican nominee, as he believed that Wilson was the greater evil. During the 1920 presidential election he supported Warren G. Harding, the Republican nominee, as Harding promised to end the United States occupation of Haiti. During the 1924 presidential election he supported Robert M. La Follette, the Progressive nominee, although he believed that La Follette couldn't win. During the 1928 presidential election he believed that both Herbert Hoover and Al Smith insulted black voters, and instead Du Bois supported Norman Thomas, the Socialist nominee.
The private sector was not the only source of racism: under President Wilson, the plight of African Americans in government jobs suffered. Many federal agencies adopted whites-only employment practices, the Army excluded blacks 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 brusquely confronted Wilson about the President's failure to fulfill his campaign promise of justice for blacks.
During 1915 − 1916, some leaders of the NAACP – disturbed by financial losses at The Crisis, and worried about the inflammatory rhetoric of some of its essays – attempted 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.
In 1915, The Atlantic Monthly carried a Du Bois essay, "The African Roots of the War", which consolidated his ideas on capitalism and race. 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 colored workers.
Du Bois used his influential NAACP position to oppose a variety of racist incidents. When the silent film The Birth of a Nation premiered in 1915, Du Bois and the NAACP led the fight to ban the movie, because of its racist portrayal of blacks as brutish and lustful. The fight was not successful, and possibly contributed to the film's fame, but the publicity drew many new supporters to the NAACP.
The Crisis continued to wage a campaign against lynching. In 1915, it 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.
As the United States prepared to enter World War I in 1917, Du Bois's colleague in the NAACP, Joel Spingarn, established a camp to train African Americans to serve as officers in the United States military. The camp was controversial, because some whites felt that blacks were not qualified to be officers, and some blacks felt that African Americans should not participate in what they considered a white man's war. Du Bois supported Spingarn's training camp, but 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 blacks, but insisted that 250 come from enlisted men, conditioned to taking orders from whites, rather than from independent-minded blacks who came from the camp. Over 700,000 blacks enlisted on the first day of the draft, but were subject to discriminatory conditions which prompted vocal protests from Du Bois.
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 began after Houston police arrested and beat two black soldiers; in response, over 100 black soldiers took to the streets of Houston and killed 16 whites. 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, concerned about subversive viewpoints expressed by NAACP leaders, attempted to frighten the NAACP by threatening it with investigations. Du Bois was not intimidated, and in 1918 he predicted that World War I would lead to an overthrow of the European colonial system and to the "liberation" of colored people worldwide – in China, in India, and especially in America. NAACP chairman Joel Spingarn was enthusiastic about the war, and 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 the war ended, Du Bois traveled to Europe in 1919 to attend the first Pan-African Congress and to interview 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 discovered widespread racism in the Army, and concluded that the Army command discouraged African Americans from joining the Army, discredited the accomplishments of black soldiers, and promoted bigotry.
In 1920, Du Bois published Darkwater: Voices From Within the Veil, the first of his three autobiographies. The "veil" was that which covered colored people around the world. In the book, he hoped to lift the veil and show white 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.
Concerned that textbooks used by African-American children ignored black history and culture, Du Bois created a monthly children's magazine, The Brownies' Book. Initially published in 1920, it was aimed at black children, who Du Bois called "the children of the sun".
Du Bois traveled to Europe in 1921 to attend the second Pan-African Congress. The assembled black leaders from around the world issued the London Resolutions and established a Pan-African Association headquarters in Paris. Under Du Bois's guidance, the resolutions insisted on racial equality, and that Africa 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, which implored the newly formed League of Nations to address labor issues and to appoint Africans to key posts. The League took little action on the requests.
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." 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.
In 1929, a debate organised by the Chicago Forum Council billed as "One of the greatest debates ever held" was held between Du Bois and Lothrop Stoddard, a member of the Ku Klux Klan, proponent of eugenics and so−called scientific racism. The debate was held in Chicago and Du Bois was arguing the affirmative to the question "Shall the Negro be encouraged to seek cultural equality? Has the Negro the same intellectual possibilities as other races?" Du Bois knew that the racists would be unintentionally funny onstage; as he wrote to Moore, Senator Heflin "would be a scream" in a debate. Du Bois let the overconfident and bombastic Stoddard walk into a comic moment, which Stoddard then made even funnier by not getting the joke. This moment was captured in headlines "DuBois Shatters Stoddard’s Cultural Theories in Debate; Thousands Jam Hall . . . Cheered As He Proves Race Equality," the Defender’s front-page headline ran. "5,000 Cheer W.E.B. DuBois, Laugh at Lothrop Stoddard." Ian Frazier of the New Yorker writes that the comic potential of Stoddard's bankrupt ideas was left untapped until Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove.
Although Du Bois generally endorsed socialist principles, his politics were strictly pragmatic: in 1929, he endorsed Democrat Jimmy Walker for mayor of New York, rather than the socialist Norman Thomas, believing that Walker could do more immediate good for blacks, even though Thomas's 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.
A rivalry emerged in 1931 between the NAACP and the Communist Party, when the Communists responded quickly and effectively 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 which 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. In their turn, the Communist leaders accused him 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.
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, a work which Du Bois had been contemplating for 30 years. After several years of planning and organizing, the philanthropies canceled the project in 1938, because some board members believed that Du Bois was too biased to produce an objective encyclopedia.
From 1932 to 1944, Du Bois supported Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Democratic nominee, as Roosevelt's attitude towards workers was more realistic. During the 1948 presidential election he supported Henry A. Wallace, the Progressive nominee, and supported the Progressives’ nominee, Vincent Hallinan, again in 1952.
Du Bois did not have a good working relationship with Walter Francis White, president of the NAACP since 1931. That conflict, combined with the financial stresses of the Great Depression, precipitated a power struggle over The Crisis. Du Bois, concerned that his position as editor would be eliminated, resigned his job at The Crisis and accepted an academic position at Atlanta University in early 1933. The rift with the NAACP grew larger in 1934 when Du Bois reversed his stance 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.
After arriving at his new professorship 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 also struck a chord with Du Bois, who routinely criticized black churches for dulling blacks' 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.
Back in the world of academia, Du Bois was able to resume his study of Reconstruction, the topic of the 1910 paper that he presented to the American Historical Association. In 1935 he published his magnum opus, Black Reconstruction in America. The book presented the thesis, in the words of the historian David Levering Lewis, that "black people, suddenly admitted to citizenship in an environment of feral hostility, displayed admirable volition and intelligence as well as the indolence and ignorance inherent in three centuries of bondage." 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.
Du Bois took a trip around the world in 1936, which included visits to Nazi Germany, China and Japan. While in Germany, Du Bois remarked that he was treated with warmth and respect. After his return to the United States, he expressed his ambivalence about the Nazi regime. He admired how the Nazis had improved the German economy, but he was horrified by their treatment of the Jewish people, which he described as "an attack on civilization, comparable only to such horrors as the Spanish Inquisition and the African slave trade."
In 1936, the Japanese ambassador arranged a trip to Japan for Du Bois and a small group of academics, visiting China, Japan, and Manchukuo (Manchuria). Du Bois viewed Japanese colonialism in Manchuria as benevolent; he wrote that "colonial enterprise by a colored nation need not imply the caste, exploitation and subjection which is has always implied in the case of white Europe." While disturbed by the eventual Japanese alliance with Nazi Germany, Du Bois also argued Japan was only compelled to enter the pact because of the hostility of the United States and United Kingdom, and he viewed American apprehensions over Japanese expansion in Asia as racially motivated both before and after the Attack on Pearl Harbor.
Du Bois opposed the US intervention in World War II, particularly in the Pacific, because he believed that China and Japan were emerging from the clutches of white imperialists. He felt 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 blacks to leadership posts in the military.
Dusk of Dawn, Du Bois's second autobiography, was published in 1940. The title refers to his 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."
The FBI began to compile a file on Du Bois in 1942, investigating him for possible subversive activities. The original investigation appears to have ended in 1943 because the FBI was unable to discover sufficient evidence against Du Bois, but the FBI resumed its investigation in 1949, suspecting he was among a group of "Concealed Communists". The most aggressive government attack against Du Bois occurred in the early 1950s, as a consequence of his opposition to nuclear weapons. In 1950 he became chair of the newly created Peace Information Center (PIC), which worked to publicize the Stockholm Peace Appeal in the United States. The primary purpose of the appeal was to gather signatures on a petition, asking governments around the world to ban all nuclear weapons.
In 1943, at age 75, Du Bois was abruptly 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."
In late 1945, Du Bois attended the fifth, and final, Pan-African Congress, in Manchester, England. The congress was the most productive of the five congresses, and there Du Bois met Kwame Nkrumah, the future first president of Ghana, who would later invite him to Africa.
Feeling inspired by this, Indian social reformer and civil rights activist Dr B R Ambedkar contacted Du Bois in the 1940s. In a letter to Du Bois in 1946, he introduced himself as a member of the "Untouchables of India" and "a student of the Negro problem" and expressed his interest in the NAACP's petition to the U.N. He noted that his group was "thinking of following suit"; and requested copies of the proposed statement from Du Bois. In a letter dated July 31, 1946, Du Bois responded by telling Ambedkar he was familiar with his name, and that he had "every sympathy with the Untouchables of India."
When the Cold War commenced in the mid-1940s, the NAACP distanced itself from Communists, lest its funding or reputation suffer. The NAACP redoubled its efforts in 1947 after Life magazine published a piece by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. claiming that the NAACP was heavily influenced by Communists. Ignoring the NAACP's desires, Du Bois continued to fraternize with communist sympathizers such as Paul Robeson, Howard Fast and Shirley Graham (his future second wife). 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; he did not embrace communism and he criticized its 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 distinctions, leading Du Bois to conclude that the USSR was the "most hopeful country on earth". Du Bois's association with prominent communists made him a liability for the NAACP, especially since the FBI was starting to aggressively investigate communist sympathizers; so – by mutual agreement – he resigned from the NAACP for the 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.
Du Bois was a lifelong anti-war activist, but his efforts became more pronounced after World War II. In 1949, Du Bois 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 World Congress of the Partisans of 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.
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. He continued to believe that capitalism was the primary culprit responsible for the subjugation of colored people around the world, and although he recognized the faults of the Soviet Union, he continued to uphold Communism as 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". The same ambiguity characterized his opinions of Joseph Stalin: in 1940 he wrote disdainfully of the "Tyrant Stalin", but when Stalin died in 1953, Du Bois wrote a eulogy characterizing Stalin as "simple, calm, and courageous", and lauding him for being the "first [to] set Russia on the road to conquer race prejudice and make one nation out of its 140 groups without destroying their individuality".
Du Bois helped to submit petitions to the UN concerning discrimination against African Americans, the most noteworthy of which 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" accuses the U.S. of systematically sanctioning murders and inflicting harm against African Americans and therefore committing genocide.
He was finally tried in 1951 and 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.
During the 1956 presidential election Du Bois stated that he would not vote. He criticized the foreign, taxation, and crime policies of the Eisenhower administration and Adlai Stevenson II for promising to maintain those policies. However, he could not vote third party due to the lack of ballot access for the Socialist Party.
Nkrumah invited Du Bois to Ghana to participate in their independence celebration in 1957, but 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.
Du Bois regained his passport in 1958, and with his second wife, Shirley Graham Du Bois, he traveled around the world, visiting Russia and China. In both countries he was celebrated. Du Bois later wrote approvingly of the conditions in both countries.
While visiting Ghana in 1960, Du Bois spoke with its president about the creation of a new encyclopedia of the African diaspora, the Encyclopedia Africana. In early 1961, Ghana notified Du Bois that they had appropriated funds to support the encyclopedia project, and they invited him to travel to Ghana and manage the project there. 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.
Du Bois became incensed in 1961 when the 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." He asked Herbert Aptheker, a Communist and historian of African-American history, to be his literary executor.
While it is sometimes stated that Du Bois renounced his U.S. citizenship at that time, and he stated 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. The following day, 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 during his entire life, was enacted almost a year after his death.
Du Bois was given a state funeral on August 29–30, 1963, at Nkrumah's request, and was buried near the western wall of Christiansborg Castle (now Osu Castle), then the seat of government in Accra. In 1985, another state ceremony honored Du Bois. With the ashes of his wife Shirley Graham Du Bois, who had died in 1977, his body was re-interred at their former home in Accra, which was dedicated the W. E. B. Du Bois Memorial Centre for Pan African Culture in his memory. Du Bois's first wife Nina, their son Burghardt, and their daughter Yolande, who died in 1961, were buried in the cemetery of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, his hometown.
Currently, W. E. B. Du Bois is 153 years, 6 months and 28 days old. W. E. B. Du Bois will celebrate 154th birthday on a Wednesday 23rd of February 2022. Below we countdown to W. E. B. Du Bois upcoming birthday.