W.E.B. Du Bois: An Encyclopedia

W.E.B. Du Bois: An Encyclopedia

W.E.B. Du Bois: An Encyclopedia

W.E.B. Du Bois: An Encyclopedia

Synopsis

"Following W. E. B. Du Bois from his birth in Massachusetts in 1868 to his death in Ghana in 1963, this concise encyclopedia covers all of the highlights of his life - his studies at Fisk, Harvard, and Berlin, his famous tiff with Booker T. Washington, his role with the NAACP and Pan-Africanism, his writings, his globe trotting, and his exile in Ghana. With contributions by leading scholars and a foreword by David Levering Lewis, the encyclopedia provides a complete highlighted overview of Du Bois' life, the events and personalities that influenced him, his intellectual contributions, and his activism." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, in the year of Andrew Johnson's impeachment and dying ninety-five years later in the year of Lyndon Johnson's installation (1868–1963), William Edward Burghardt Du Bois cut an amazing swath through four continents (he was a Lenin Peace Prize laureate, and his birthday was once a national holiday in China), writing fourteen pioneering books of sociology, history, and politics and, in his eighties, a second autobiography and three large historical novels, complementing the two large works of fiction he wrote in the first two decades of this century. the premier architect of the civil rights movement in the United States, Du Bois was among the first American intellectuals to grasp the international implications of the struggle for racial justice, memorably proclaiming the problem of the twentieth century would be the problem of the color line. What he said precisely one summer day in July 1900 (shortened and made more prosaic three years later) was this: “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line, the question as to how far differences of race, which show themselves chiefly in the color of the skin and texture of the hair, are going to be made, hereafter, the basis of denying to over half the world the right of sharing to their utmost ability the opportunities and privileges of modern civilization.”

Thus, The Souls of Black Folk, his 1903 collection of fourteen essays, would transform race relations in the United States with what now seems instantaneous speed and, by redefining the terms of a 300-year-old interaction between blacks and whites, reshaped the cultural and political psychology of peoples of African descent not only throughout the Western Hemisphere but on the African continent as well. Always controversial, Du Bois was to espouse racial and political beliefs of such variety and seeming contradiction as often to bewilder and alienate as many of his countrymen and women, black and white, as he inspired and converted. Beneath the contradictions, however, there is the procrustean bed of race and racism that gives his century-long life collective . . .

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