William Edward Burghardt Du Bois or shall I say, W. E. B. Du Bois was a freedom fighter. Du Bois was raised in a small-established black community in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Where he grew up, they stressed hard work and achievement. Born on February 23, 1868 to Mary Silivina and Alfred Du Bois, Du Bois was an excellent student. He was published in the community’s newspaper by the age fourteen. Being that he was such an excellent student, he graduated from high school early and enrolled at Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn. After receiving his baccalaureate degree, Du Bois accepted a scholarship at the University of Berlin, where he studied for two years. After this he went to Harvard, where he was the first African American to receive his doctoral degree.
By the turn of the century, Dr. Du Bois was on his way to becoming a career academician. From 1894 to 1896, Du Bois served as a professor of Greek and Latin at Wilberforce University in Ohio. After his term was completed, he accepted a position at the University of Pennsylvania as an assistant instructor teaching sociology. Here is where he conducted the research for his landmark work, Philadelphia Negro.
In between getting all of his education, Du Bois did have a social life. In 1896, Du Bois married Nina Gomer. Later they had two children, Yolande and Burghardt who died at the age of three. While his children were growing up, he served as professor of economics and history at Atlanta University; He also served as chairman of the sociology department there from 1934 to 1944.
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As you can see, Du Bois is a very educated man however Du Bois did not invest all of his energy in academics. He began create a role for himself as a scholar activist. In 1900, he attended and helped organize the First Annual Pan-African Congress. In 1905, Du Bois and a group of African American scholars and leaders met to discuss the issue of civil rights. This group, known as the Niagara Movement, eventually led to the formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1910. As a founding father of the NAACP, Du Bois also edited the organization’s journal, The Crisis. He also served as Director of Publicity and Research for the NAACP. Du Bois left the NAACP and became involved with socialist thinkers and activist. He worked on his books Black Folk, and Then and Now.
Du Bois returned to the NAACP in 1944 as Director of special Research. Du Bois always believed that crimes of racism and exploration necessitated the unity of Africans throughout the world. In 1961, he joined the Communist Party USA. That same year he left the United States with his new wife, Shirley Graham Du Bois, she was a skilled writer as he was. They immigrated to Ghana, where they became full citizens. In 1963, he died peacefully, after ninety-five years of faithfully serving humanity. He was given a funeral by his close friend, the great Ghanaian president, Kwame Nkrumah. Dignitaries all over the world attended the ceremonies, but the U.S. government sent no one to pay tribute.
W. E. B. Du Bois remains one of the great thinkers of the twentieth century. He produced over 4,000 works and his life and legacy continue to inspire a new generation of men and women. In his words: “Peace will be my applause.”