The Resurgence of Race: Black Social Theory from Reconstruction to the Pan-African Conferences

The Resurgence of Race: Black Social Theory from Reconstruction to the Pan-African Conferences

The Resurgence of Race: Black Social Theory from Reconstruction to the Pan-African Conferences

The Resurgence of Race: Black Social Theory from Reconstruction to the Pan-African Conferences

Excerpt

In 1903 W. E. B. DuBois published the most influential collection of essays ever written by a Black American, The Souls of Black Folk. The book ranged over many social, historical, and literary topics, but its most profound theme was the exposition of a distinct Black psychology. Blacks, DuBois argued, had the same hopes and desires as other peoples, but they had been treated as strangers in their own land. Subject to enslavement rather than free migration and to stigma rather than equal opportunity, they had been "born with a veil" and perceived the world through a maze of stereotypes imposed on them by white America. His essays, DuBois hoped, would reveal the human feelings and unique achievements of Blacks and demonstrate how they confronted their inner doubts. The Souls of Black Folk not only reflected the influence of DuBois's education at Harvard and Berlin, but also the intensive and growing debate among Blacks over their history and destiny. America produced the first stratum of Western educated Black intellectuals who reflected on the problems of colonial control and proposed various theories and strategies to combat it. Two dominant images of the freedmen emerged from their debates. The first, suggested by former slaves like Frederick Douglass and developed by T. Thomas Fortune and Booker T. Washington, depicted the freedmen as an impoverished peasantry in . . .

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