W. E. B. Du Bois

Franklin Library W. E. B. Du Bois books

Dusk of Dawn - 100 Greatest Masterpieces of American Literature - 1980


W. E. B. Du Bois biography

W. E. B. Du Bois, whose full name is William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, was a towering figure in African American history, a sociologist, civil rights activist, and prolific writer. Born on February 23, 1868, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Du Bois came of age during a tumultuous period in American history, marked by racial segregation, discrimination, and the struggle for civil rights. Du Bois demonstrated intellectual prowess at an early age. He attended Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, and later Harvard University, where he became the first African American to earn a doctorate in sociology in 1895. His early academic pursuits set the stage for a lifetime of scholarly work and activism.

One of Du Bois's most influential works is The Souls of Black Folk, published in 1903. This collection of essays delves into the African American experience in the United States, addressing issues such as the veil of racial prejudice, double consciousness, and the challenges faced by the black community in the aftermath of slavery. His writings were a pioneering exploration of sociology and race relations, laying the groundwork for future generations of scholars and activists. Du Bois was a co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909, an organization dedicated to fighting for the rights of African Americans and combating racial injustice. He served as the editor of the NAACP's magazine, The Crisis, using it as a platform to address social and political issues affecting the black community.

Throughout his life, Du Bois was an advocate for civil rights and social equality. He engaged in debates with other prominent figures of the time, including Booker T. Washington, over the most effective strategies for achieving racial progress. Du Bois argued for the importance of higher education and political activism as tools for advancement. Du Bois also played a significant role in Pan-Africanism, advocating for solidarity among people of African descent worldwide. He attended several Pan-African Congresses, working towards global awareness and unity among African and African diasporic communities. As a scholar, Du Bois authored numerous books, articles, and essays on sociology, history, and race relations. His groundbreaking research and intellectual contributions helped challenge prevailing racial stereotypes and laid the foundation for future sociological studies on race.

Later in his life, Du Bois became disillusioned with the United States and moved to Ghana, where he became a citizen in 1963. He continued to write and advocate for civil rights until his death on August 27, 1963, at the age of 95. W. E. B. Du Bois's legacy is immeasurable. His intellectual contributions, activism, and dedication to social justice have left an enduring impact on the fight against racial inequality in the United States and around the world. Du Bois's commitment to education, civil rights, and Pan-Africanism solidifies his place as one of the foremost intellectuals and activists in American history.


Dusk of Dawn - An Essay Toward an Autobiography of a Race Concept

W. E. B. Du Bois was a public intellectual, sociologist, and activist on behalf of the African American community. He profoundly shaped black political culture in the United States through his founding role in the NAACP, as well as internationally through the Pan-African movement. Du Bois's sociological and historical research on African-American communities and culture broke ground in many areas, including the history of the post-Civil War Reconstruction period. Du Bois was also a prolific author of novels, autobiographical accounts, innumerable editorials and journalistic pieces, and several works of history.

Dusk of Dawn, published in 1940, is an explosive autobiography of the foremost African American scholar of his time. Du Bois writes movingly of his own life, using personal experience to elucidate the systemic problem of race. He reflects on his childhood, his education, and his intellectual life, including the formation of the NAACP. Though his views eventually got him expelled from the association, Du Bois continues to develop his thoughts on separate black economic and social institutions in Dusk of Dawn. Readers will find energetic essays within these pages, including insight into his developing Pan-African consciousness. With a series introduction by editor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and an introduction by Kwame Anthony Appiah, this edition is essential for anyone interested in African American history.

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