W.E.B. Du Bois

scholar, author, editor, writer, & social activist ..... French Creole Heritage

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Du Bois

was born three years after the American Civil War on February 23, 1868, in Great Barrington, Massachussetts.

His mother was Mary Sylvania Burghardt, a short and attractive brown-skinned woman who worked most of her life as a domestic in Great Barrington.

His mulatto father, Alfred Du Bois, was a descendant of French Huguenot ancestry from Haiti and a barber by trade.

Du Bois knew much less about his father, although he was able trace his father's ancestry to a seventeenth-century white French Huguenot farmer residing in the west Indies named Chretien Du Bois. Further down the lineage was Du bois's grandfather, the short, stern Alexander Du Bois, who was light enough to pass for white but chose a black identity instead.Du Bois was prolific as a scholar, author, editor, writer, and social activist. He combined his scholarship with organized social protest from 1896 to 1963, producing an enormous amount of written work in history and sociology as well as critical pieces about current events. His amazing ability to utilize the unique insights of so many disciplines gave his work depth and beauty.

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His Biography..


Beginning with his dissertation, published in 1896- the first of the Harvard historical studies project- Du Bois commenced a long career of examining key aspects of the black experience. In his work he showed America's failure to stop the Trans-Atlantic slave trade of Africans because of economic considerations, even though its abolition was a matter of morality and the enforcement of constitutional law.In the 1950s Du Bois was leaning more and more towards a socialist conception of the world and became acutely critical of capitalism, a system he felt was incapable of providing food, clothing, and shelter for the masses of working-class people, both black and non-black.

Du Bois always believed that there was a connection between world war and who controlled the rich mineral and material resources in Africa. He ran for senator of New York on the Progressive Party ticket and collected a quarter-million votes.Du-Bois is probably the greatest example of a black intellect in America. It was his vast knowledge and skill at utilizing the specific insights of so many disciplines that made his written work so profound and insightful.

The amount of work he produced is so voluminous that his literary executor Herbert Aptheker compares him to Charles Dickens. henry Louis Gates estimates that his Annotated Bibliography of writings in magazines, journals, books, encyclopedias, pamphlets, leaflets, and manifestos balances out to Du Bois writing something scholarly every twelve days of his life for over fifty years.

He was indeed a "Renaissance man" in the sense that at the turn of the century, few blacks were trained in history and one on sociology; he wrote two novels and a play; he produced studies on religion, business, education, and labor; he organized conferences; he taught at three universities; he wrote hundreds of essays and articles for several newspapers, some of which he submitted weekly; he created periodicals for adults and children; and he was a husband and a father.





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