In this paper I explain the status of William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, one of the most dominant black leaders, a great scholar indeed, who was an instituting member in the establishment of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). I note his remarkable position that he gained from struggling against discrimination and racism, and point out the way he tried to politicize Black people through his heated writing and speeches.
Furthermore I mention the importance of Crisis Magazine, which Du Bois officiously ran as its editor-in-chief and through it, intended to bring his people forward. In the end I note his lifelong influence on the issues associated with race, class and gender; while class and gender being the issues where he was not quite well-known among sociologists. For this I have looked across a massive amount of work that Du Bois had done in his life, and also the work done by other historians on the Du Bois life-long achievements. Biography
Born “by a golden river and in the shadow of two great hills”, as William Edward Burghardt Du Bois has himself beautifully put in his autobiography, it was 23rd February 1868, when on the Church Street in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, a remarkable scholar, historian, sociologist as is known today, and a much recognized ‘black civil rights’ activist and leader, was born on the face of this earth. An aggressor toward prejudice and an upholder of independence, he was a man of ardent devotion and a possessor of great intellect. As a child in school Du Bois did not feel atypical because of his black color or being poor.
In fact his was quite contended with his academics due to the amount of acknowledgement he would get for his intellect. His self-assurance in the academic world steered him to believe that he could avail himself of the power of his knowledge, which he graciously possessed, to embolden African Americans. After completing his high school, he dreamt of getting admission in Harvard, but due to financial constraints, he accepted to settle for Fisk College. In the years spent at Fisk, Tennessee, his knowledge and experience perfected his beliefs about racialism.
After graduating from there, he got enough scholarship to finally enter Harvard University in 1888. He secured his bachelor’s degree from there, and later on got to be known as the first African American to gain a Ph. D from there. In between his bachelor’s and Ph. D, he had also gone to the University of Berlin, a complete different experience which was, and after that assumed the responsibility of teaching at the Wilberforce University and moreover took up a research project at the University of Pennsylvania. The very experience allowed him to review Blacks as a part of society.
To further his teachings in sociology, he taught at the Atlanta University. The studies about the race problems, that Du bois made there, have absolutely no match. The well recognized works by Du Bois, for example his famous The Philadelphia Negro; Black Reconstruction; Black Folk, Then and Now and The Souls of Black Folk, influenced a major number of pioneer writers and scholars. In his classic masterpieces, he lifted the status of Blacks and made the world realize the importance of human rights with regards to the African Americans.
A noteworthy life that he had made for himself and the people of his race through his works, even with the presence of a number of critics following, at last he breathed his last on the 27th August 1963 in Accra, Ghana, and put an end to a life of extra-ordinary struggles and compositions. Social History and its influence on Du Bois works Du Bois was a nice, well-brought-up and delightful man, who started his life in Great Barrington, where he lived in a Black minority.
Open racism hadn’t evolved there yet, until sooner, the wind carrying its poison dispensed like a storm and contaminated the attitudes of the people towards Blacks. This altered Du Bois temperament to a great extent and got him gloomy and thoughtful. His introspection disturbed him and at the same time gave him a spark to move on and work for the advancement of the people of his tribe. Through editorials and short articles in the New York Globe, of which he was a local writer at a very young age, he induced his people to forge ahead.
He exposed a major requirement for them to get introduced into the political arena. Later on, during the time period that he spent at Fisk, he ascertained bigotry and contrast among nations to an unbelievable extent. This made him aggressive toward the color barrier, and compelled him to progress, to further the liberation of his race, and as result grew into a writer, editor and a fervent speaker. Du Bois’ studies at Fisk, and later on at Harvard, allowed him to learn social problems encircled by poverty, ignorance and specifically prejudice.
Also, when he was at Fisk, he assumed teaching at a county school in summers for two years and came to know a lot about his people. Later on in Berlin, he got underway realizing the race problems in Africa, Asia and America and made up his mind that he would work hard to resolve them as much as he could. After his Ph. D degree from Harvard and having taught two years at Wilberforce, he agreed to cooperate in a research project at the University of Pennsylvania about ward slums in Philadelphia. Earlier he had been unwavering to dig up as much knowledge as possible and consequently seek a remedy for the color prejudice.
This research served his purpose and brought him a number of sociological conclusions about the subject matter. The publishing of The Philadelphia Negro was the product of his arduous hard work at the University of Pennsylvania. Du Bois became known as the father of Social Science. At Atlanta University as well, he made extensive studies relating to – the topic so much close to his heart – race problems. There he made findings and wrote everything he possibly could about the Negros. He also disclaimed the common perceived view of Africans, by bringing to notice the developments that had taken birth there.
A sociopolitical argument started rising between Du Bois and Booker T. Washington, who was a powerful black man in America. Du Bois opposed the approach and policies that Washington followed in his power to handle Blacks. His way of carrying out the policies was indeed contradictory and highly created controversy with Du Bois beliefs when he contended that Blacks should give up their involvement in the political arena and their persistence over higher education and civil rights for the time being and instead focus on industrial education.
Du Bois, however, was of a completely opposite view. As the aftermath of this, in 1903, his now famous book The Souls of Black Folk got published. This book created “an unparallel impact upon a diversity of readers”. Not quite pleasingly though, but Du Bois took charge as the Director of Publication and Research, and also as an instituting member in the establishment of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909. He served as the editor-in-chief of its magazine Crisis for a period of about 25 years.
This magazine was the main channel that helped spreading out news and NAACP policies in connection with the Blacks. The distribution and readership of the Crisis made its way to being dramatic and unrelenting in growth. This provided Du Bois with the capacity to keep on combating against the biases mounded upon the Blacks. Crisis had indeed became his instrument to fling thunders of burning words in his writing, in order to scratch off the dust and expose the country internals where prejudice so unfortunately prevailed.
The whole country was overwhelmed with Du Bois’ utter protest, as his articles never seemed to give way. The magazine subscription rate had amazingly reached 10,000. The Concept of Race, Class and Gender Du Bois, although famous mainly for his ‘race’ concept, but over the long sequence of his life, time and again, he addressed all of these three issues. The race, class and gender methodology distinguishes numerous systems of tyranny and freedom enduring in conditions that bring about a number of junctions of each system.
At the operational level, the race, class and gender structure lightens up the methods in which different systems of power and command are equally strengthening up. Du Bois battle against race discrimination has already been covered in much detail. His concern for poor people and efforts for promoting their rights in the atmosphere, that did not much care about these issues, produced positive results to much an extent, where many classes of middle, upper middle and elite class survived.
He used the power of pen and speech to get his firm beliefs of human rights in terms of equality and justice, travel up to the minds of people and stay there. He recognized that he had to stay objective in this regard. His books and other pieces of written work illuminate his discomfort and, at the same time, care for people who felt deprived of equal rights due to their being destitute. Furthermore, Du Bois also made excellent efforts in composing his writings on the women’s suffrage movement and the methods in which it was interconnected with the efforts that he had made for the African American civil rights.
He felt and exposed through his pen, that women should see equal civil rights for themselves, otherwise such an intense struggle would prove pointless, if a part of the society felt ignored. Similarly, Du Bois also focused his attention to the black feminists as this movement was very critical to him. This way Du Bois was the first African American Socialist who took forward the race, class and gender epitome, with his writings noted as the foundation for all his reforms against these critical issues. Conclusion
Being a herald of Black Nationalism and playing an extraordinary role as a revolutionary Pan Africanist, Du Bois expired in 1963 in Accra, Ghana, leaving a mark in the minds of people who were aware of the true efforts and the intellect of this man, and also of those who feared that his beliefs would bring together the weighed down people from all over the world onto the road that leads to transformation.
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