A Brief Biography of a Colorblind Revolutionary

By Faktorovich, Anna | Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Fall 2016 | Go to article overview

A Brief Biography of a Colorblind Revolutionary


Faktorovich, Anna, Pennsylvania Literary Journal


A Brief Biography of a Colorblind Revolutionary Bill V. Mullen. W.E.B. Du Bois: Revolutionary Across the Color Lines. London: Pluto Press, October 2016. ISBN: 978-0-7453-3505-6. Biography. 240pp. $20.

This book is advertised, justly for its dimensions, as being a brief introductory biography of W.E.B. Du Bois. While I have read some bits by and about Du Bois before, I did not know that he was the "first black man to earn a PhD from Harvard" nor that he co-founded NAACP Mullen stresses that civil rights of African Americans were far from the only struggle Du Bois supported, as he also spoke on behalf of international socialism and the plight of poverty for all people, rather than just for black people. Out of the book's three parts, two of them are about communism, rather than about racism: Part I: Racial Uplift and the Reform Era; Part II: From Moscow to Manchester, 1917-45; Part III: Revolution and the Cold War, 1945-63. The "Introduction" begins with Du Bois signing his name and offering his opinion of the unfair killings by police of African Americans that echoes the Black Lives Matter movement today, only Du Bois made his argument before the United Nations and asked them to acknowledge such crimes as "Genocide" similar to the extermination of Jews in the Holocaust. Mullen argues that Du Bois applied his Marxist ideals to his books about how the lives of African Americans could be bettered by changing power-dynamics in the country. The "Introduction" stresses that De Bois' revolutionary ideas are particularly relevant today amidst the failed Arab Spring Revolutions.

The first chapter begins at Du Bois' birth as any general biography would. His early life and family history is briefly explained, before the story jumps to 1892 when he received the Slater Fund fellowship to attend the University of Berlin. …

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