William Edward Burghardt DuBois

Article about prominent African American W.E.B. DuBois, including related Web sites, and a bibliography.
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W. E. B. DuBois1868-1963
Writer, Scholar, Educator, Civil Rights Activist
Born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts
Attended Fisk University, University of Berlin, Harvard University
Born three years after the end of the Civil War, William Edward Burghardt DuBois grew up in Western Massachusetts. He was one of the most important civil rights figures of the 20th century. DuBois helped found the NAACP, studied and wrote about the lives of African Americans, and believed strongly in integration. He eventually moved to Ghana and gave up his American citizenship.

DuBois attended Fisk University in Nashville for three years. While in Tennessee, DuBois taught school, the inspiration for his 1899 article " A Negro Schoolmaster in the New South." DuBois finished his undergraduate studies at Harvard College in 1888.

In 1891 DuBois finished his master's degree at Harvard. Soon after, former President Rutherford B. Hayes, who headed a fund to educate Negroes, was quoted as saying that his organization could not find Negroes worthy of studying in Europe. DuBois wrote to President Hayes listing his credentials, won a scholarship from Hayes' organization, and went to Germany to study at the University of Berlin. (Reportedly Hayes was misquoted.)

DuBois returned to Harvard three years later and received his Ph.D. Interested in sociology, DuBois studied the daily lives of African Americans while teaching at Atlanta University.He also wrote articles for Atlantic Monthly and World's Work, which later comprised his seminal work, The Souls of Black Folk.

In 1909, with members of a group called the "Niagra Movement," DuBois founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) which advocated for equal rights. The NAACP published a magazine called the Crisis, which DuBois edited for 25 years. At this time DuBois began his famous dissention with Booker T. Washington. Washington called for African Americans to become educated in the trades, while DuBois called for a "Talented Tenth" of African Americans to achieve the highest education levels which would lead to the improvement of the lives of all African Americans.

DuBois continued to be an outspoken advocate for civil rights, while becoming interested in Communism. His political leanings caused the FBI to investigate him, as they did many other civil rights leaders.

A recipient of the World Peace Council Prize in 1952 and the Soviet Lenin Peace Prize in 1959, DuBois became a member of the Communist party in 1961 and a citizen of Ghana, where he served as director of the Encyclopedia Africana. DuBois died in Ghana on August 27, 1963, the eve of the March on Washington where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

Related Resources

Web Resources
Encarta Entry: W.E.B. DuBois

Works by W.E.B. DuBois on the Internet

Selected Works by W.E.B. DuBois

The Suppression of the African Slave Trade (1896)
The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study (1899)
The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches (1903)
John Brown (1909)
The Quest of the Golden Fleece (1911)
The Negro (1915)
Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil (1920)
The Gift of Black Folk: The Negroes in the Making of America (1924)
Dark Princess: A Romance (1911)
Africa: Its Place in Modern History (1930)
Black Folk, Then and Now: An Essay in the History and Sociology of the Negro Race (1939)
Dusk of Dawn: An Essay Toward an Autobiography of a Race Concept (1940)
Color and Democracy: Colonies and Peace (1945)
The World and Africa: An Inquiry into the Part Which Africa Has Played In World History (1947)
In Battle for Peace: The Story of my 83rd Birthday (1952)

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