W.E.B Du Bois is known as one of the most influential black sociologists and spokesmen for black rights in history. Throughout his life, Du Bois tried to find the answer to discrimination and fought for equality for blacks in the school system.
In the early 1900s, Du Bois became the voice of the black community. In his lifetime, He wrote over a dozen books and essays on the sociology of blacks.
Du Bois was born in Massachusetts in 1868. In 1888, he graduated from Fisk University in Nashville, TN. He took his education further and made history being the first black to ever receive a Ph.D. at Harvard University.
In his early career, he taught at Atlanta University. He disagreed with the theory that black students learn better through black teachers. Du Bois went against any type of segregation in schools for both white and black people.
Du Bois was known for opposing major leaders from 1910 to the 1930s.
He combated the teachings of Booker T. Washington in the book entitled The Souls of Black Folks. He suggested that his teachings were a way for the white man to oppress blacks and blacks would never do enough to earn the respect of the whites.
He, also, spoke against President Wilson’s idea to segregate the cabinet.
Du Bois helped create the NAACP, or the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He was heavily involved in its magazine, “The Crisis.” After a dispute with the head of the NAACP he resigned as the editor in 1934.
And, although he often disputed the teachings of Marcus Garvey, they worked together on Pan-Africanism. The goal was to build the strength of all the inhabitants in Africa so that they could be liberated from the hands of the European countries.
Du Bois was looked down upon by the whites when he wrote his magnum opus, Black Reconstruction in America. He believed that black people were the central figures during the time of the Civil War and the Reconstruction period.
Du Bois believed in some of the teachings of Marxism. However, he did not openly support communism until later in his life. This led to him being prosecuted for affiliation with the communist party in his 80’s, however the judge later waved the case.
Taken aback by the government’s accusation against him, Du Bois chose to finish out his life in Ghana. He died the day before MLK gave his famous, “I Have a Dream” speech.
Du Bois shaped the thinking of African Americans during the 1900s. His goal was to end segregation and to create equal opportunity for blacks.
He thought the best way to do that was to make sure that blacks were getting the proper education. He says, “Education must not simply teach work-it must teach life.”