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Collection African American Perspectives: Materials Selected from the Rare Book Collection

W. E. B. Du Bois

Du Bois, Prof. W. E. B. J. E. Purdy (dates unknown). Photograph, 1904. LC-USZ62-28485.


William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was born in Massachusetts in 1868, the year Congress guaranteed male black suffrage. Du Bois was graduated from Fisk University and Harvard University and studied two years at the University of Berlin. He was the first black American to receive the degree of doctor of philosophy from Harvard.

Du Bois founded the Niagara Movement -- a group of African-American leaders committed to an active struggle for racial equality. Du Bois was a founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and edited its journal, Crisis, for many years.

A brilliant writer and speaker, Du Bois was the outstanding African-American intellectual of his time. His The Philadelphia Negro (1899) was the first sociological study of African-Americans. In The Souls of Black Folk (1903), Du Bois took a forceful stand against Booker T. Washington's policy of accommodation, calling instead for "ceaseless agitation and insistent demand for equality," and the "use of force of every sort: moral suasion, propaganda, and where possible even physical resistance."

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