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W.E.B. Du Bois

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (February 23, 1868 – August 27, 1963) was an American civil rights activist, leader, Pan-Africanist, sociologist, educator, historian, writer, editor, poet, and scholar. He was born and raised in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. He had two children with his wife, Nina Gomer. In 1963, Du Bois became a naturalized citizen of Ghana and died that same year at the age of 95. 

The Talented Tenth is a term designating a leadership class of African Americans in the early 20th century. Northern philanthropists created the term, which W.E.B. Du Bois published in an influential essay he published.

As a Scholar

Du Bois’ life and work were comprised of an inseparable mixture of scholarship, protest activity, and polemics. All of his efforts were geared toward gaining equal treatment for Black people in a world dominated by whites. As part of that endeavor, he marshalled and presented evidence to refute the myths of racial inferiority. Du Bois was early recognized a prolific, gifted scholar. After graduating as valedictorian in 1884, he received his Bachelor of Arts from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. While in college, Du Bois spent his summers teaching African American students in Nashville’s rural areas. In 1888, he entered Harvard University.

As a Global Citizen

In 1948, Du Bois became co-chariman of the Council on African Affairs; in 1949, he attended the New York, Paris, and Moscow peace congresses; in 1950, he served as chairman of the Peace Information Center and ran for the U.S. Senate on the American Labor party ticket in New York. In 1950-1951, Du Bois was tried and acquitted as an agent of a foreign power in one of the most ludicrous actions ever taken by the American government. Du Bois traveled widely throughout Russia and China in 1958-1959 and, in 1961, joined the Communist party of the United States. He also took up residence in Ghana, Africa, in 1961. Concerned about the sub-par living conditions.

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