W.E.B Du Bois

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (Feb 23 1868 – Aug 27 1963)

Du Bois holds the distinction of being the first African-American graduate of Harvard University, as well as being a co-founder of the NAACP in 1909. The Pan-Africanist campaigned for the equal rights of blacks as the leader of the Niagara Movement, at a time where many (including Booker T. Washington), were seeking to compromise with Whites. His thinking extended beyond just Black people, with the Asian struggle of colonialism and imperialism taken into consideration. He even opposed the US’ involvement in WWII and its war against Japan, as he felt that since Japan was emerging from White imperialism, this was a chance for Whites to wrestle control back and strengthen their influence in Asia.

Aside from being an activist, he was also a prominent author, with writings such as The Souls of Black Folk and Black Reconstruction in America, the latter of which challenged ideologies and demonstrated how Blacks were instrumental in the American Civil War and Reconstruction. The thesis (although written in 1910), was only taken seriously by mainstream historians in the 1960’s.

He continued to speak out against colonialism with writings such as Color and Democracy and a report entitled We Charge Genocide, which accused the US of sanctioning murders and causing harm against African Americas. He protested against nuclear weapons, angered the US by saying that Marx had ‘put his finger squarely upon our problem’ , and joined the Communist party in 1961 at the age of 93. He died at 95 in Accra, Ghana, not before starting the project which is now known as the Encyclopedia Africana which I highly recommend.



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