W.E.B. Du Bois: An Encyclopedia

By Gerald Horne; Mary Young | Go to book overview

Foreword: The Dissenting
Temperament of W.E.B. Du Bois

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

-ix-

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W.E.B. Du Bois: An Encyclopedia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword: The Dissenting Temperament of W.E.B. Du Bois ix
  • Preface xvii
  • Introduction xix
  • Chronology xxv
  • A 1
  • B 23
  • C 37
  • D 49
  • E 67
  • F 79
  • G 83
  • H 93
  • I 107
  • J 111
  • K 119
  • L 121
  • M 129
  • N 141
  • O 151
  • P 157
  • Q 173
  • R 177
  • S 191
  • T 203
  • U 207
  • V 211
  • W 213
  • Selected Bibliography 227
  • Index 241
  • About the Contributors 249
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