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Africana Studies : W.E.B. DuBois

This research guide can be used as a companion for the study of the African Diaspora, Africana, and African American Studies.

William Edward Burghhardt DuBois (February 23, 1868 – August 27, 1963)

W.E.B. DuBois (February 23, 1868 – August 27, 1963) was an American historian, sociologist, civil rights activist, Pan-Africanist, and noted author. He is considered by many to be one of the intellectual forefathers of African American Studies in the United States. His seminal work, The Souls of Black Folk articulated what would essentially be his life's work, "The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line." Du Bois had risen to national prominence as a leader of the Niagara Movement, a group of African-American activists who wanted equal rights for African Americans.

Du Bois and his supporters opposed the Atlanta Compromise, an agreement crafted by  the founder of Tuskegee institute, Booker T. Washington which provided that Southern blacks would work and submit to white political rule, while Southern whites guaranteed that blacks would receive basic educational and economic opportunities. Du Bois insisted on full civil rights and increased political representation for African Americans, which he believed would be brought about by the African-American intellectual elite. He referred to this group as the Talented Tenth, a concept under the umbrella of Racial Uplift, and believed that African Americans needed the chances for advanced education to develop its leadership.

W.E.B. DuBois in his Office at the Crisis Magazine

W.E.B. DuBois Rivalry with Booker T. Washington

While both were well-educated civil rights activists, W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington had fundamentally different opinions to approaching the civil rights movement which created a rivalry between the two leaders.