Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings

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cial science into history, fiction, and essays. A chapter in his Souls of Black Folk ( 1903)
sparked his battle with Booker T. Washington, then the dominant spokesman for Ne-
gro Americans. Du Bois organized the Niagara Movement ( 1905-1910) in opposi-
tion to Washington, who opposed the higher education of Blacks in favor of indus-
trial training. From it came the NAACP, with which he was associated during much
of the rest of his active life. In the 1920s, he was locked in controversy with Marcus
Garvey over their differing views of Pan-Africanism. Though Du Bois's roots were in
America, he was a leader in the world Pan-African movement, and in his last years,
he was honored in China, the USSR, Africa, and Europe. In 1961, then ninety-three
years old, Du Bois moved to Ghana to begin work on the Encyclopedia Africana. He
died on the eve of the civil rights march on Washington, D.C.--August 27, 1963.

"Double-Consciousness and the Veil" is the opening chapter of Souls of Black Folk,
in which Du Bois used poetry, autobiography, and history to make strong theoretical
points. His concept of twoness, or double-consciousness, has been an enduring
force in African-American social and literary theory. The book's title is meant pre-
cisely--two souls, one self. Du Bois's literary method reflected his theory, as in his
practice of composing epigraphs that juxtaposed the classic literature of the West
and unmarked bars of music from the American black tradition. "The Spirit of Mod-
ern Europe", published only recently, was the title of an address given in Louisville,
Kentucky, in 1900, shortly after Du Bois returned from London, where he had orga-
nized and led the first international Pan-African conference. This is a clear example
of what today might be called a multicultural social theory. Du Bois understated his
attack on Europe's narrow cultural logic in order to define the global interests (and
responsibilities) of the civilizations of Africa and other societies across the world.


Double-Consciousness and the Veil

W. E.B. Du Bois ( 1903)

O water, voice of my heart, crying in the sand,
All night long crying with a mournful cry,
As I lie and listen, and cannot understand
The voice of my heart in my side or the voice of the sea,
O water, crying for rest, is it I, is it I?
All night long the water is crying to me.
Unresting water, there shall never be rest
Till the last moon droop and the last tide fail,
And the fire of the end begin to burn in the west;
And the heart shall be weary and wonder and cry like the sea,
All life long crying without avail,
As the water all night long is crying to me.

-- Arthur Symons

Excerpt from The Souls of Black Folk ( New York: Bantam, 1989 [ 1903]), pp. 1-9.

-163-

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