Chapter 3
WHEN TITANS COLLIDE

Du Bois’s tenure at Atlanta University occurred as the nation in which he resided witnessed an ossifying of Jim Crow. It was in 1896 that the U.S. Supreme Court in the profoundly significant case, Plessy v. Ferguson, placed its imprimatur on the system of “separate but equal” (which amounted to separate and unequal); this racist system often descended to the level of absurdity, for example, “separate but equal” graveyards, “separate but equal” Bibles to swear witnesses in courtrooms, no intermarriage across the color line, or mandates that workers of various ancestries were forbidden to peer out of the same windows in factories. This totalizing—actually totalitarian—regime seemed so pervasive and formidable that inevitably a number of African Americans decided that the better part of wisdom was figuring out how to make one’s peace with Jim Crow by rationalizing deprivation of the vote and lynching and all the rest. Foremost among these advocates was Booker T. Washington, who seemingly had taken the measure of Du Bois—who he probably envisioned correctly as a potentially dangerous rival—by inviting him for a job interview (or, more likely, an inspection) in February 1900.

While the nascent Progressives were not above pilfering the policy clothes of Populists, the latter were swimming toward the mainstream.

-33-

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W.E.B. Du Bois: A Biography
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Series Foreword vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Timeline- Events in the Life of W.E.B. Du Bois xvii
  • Chapter 1- Beginnings 1
  • Chapter 2- Dr. Du Bois 17
  • Chapter 3- When Titans Collide 33
  • Chapter 4- Present at the Creation 49
  • Chapter 5- A New Path 65
  • Chapter 6- Conflicts 81
  • Chapter 7- Talented Tenths 103
  • Chapter 8- Divorces 119
  • Chapter 9- Wars 135
  • Chapter 10- Turning Point 151
  • Chapter 11- Trials 167
  • Chapter 12- Redemption 183
  • Selected Bibliography 197
  • Index 203
  • About the Author 217
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