W. E. B. Du Bois became a part of my mental make-up, my intellectual exemplar, since I first taught a portion of The Souls of Black Folk at Winston Salem State University in the late 1970s. I was at once struck by the lyrical quality of his language, keyed to the cadences of the King James Bible. I wove his words and ideas into my teaching and even my attitude toward life, for he made me feel secure intellectually and emotionally in a world where I was not construed as a full citizen. Du Bois provided me with a grammar for articulating the self and for understanding what it means to be black in the United States. He used “words as a weapon, ” in the apt language of Richard Wright, and he intrepidly blended a concern for the poetics and politics of language, and their influence on how we perceive the world around us. Finally, I bonded with Du Bois because he put his tremendous intellect to use in improving the quality of life for all in our belovedcommunity.
It is especially apt that I edit this book in Baltimore, a city that ranks next to Atlanta andNew York in being where Du Bois chose to spendmuch of his time. Du Bois once lived in Morgan Park, a residential area adjacent to Morgan State University, and his legacy to the institution included one of his best students, Irene Diggs, who taught in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology for many years. Thus it is my pleasure to present this collection of essays celebrating his groundbreaking work.
I wish to thank my colleagues who readparts of this manuscript. They include Thelma B. Thompson, Ruby V. Rodney, Patrick Murphy, Betty Plummer, andOtto Begus.
I also extend my appreciation to the following individuals for their contributions to my work: Michelle Baliff, Rosemary Franklin, Barbara McCaskill, R. Baxter Miller, Hugh Ruppersburg, and Anne Williams, my former colleagues at the University of Georgia; Burney J. Hollis, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Otto Begus, Chair of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Karen A. Robertson, Director of Library Services, and Gabriel S. Tenabe, Director of Museums at Morgan State University; Sundiata Cha-Jua, Director of African American Studies, and Vera Mitchell,