Black History Month: W.E.B. Du Bois
He was an American civil rights activist, leader, Pan-Africanist, sociologist, educator, historian, writer, editor, poet, and scholar. William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, better known as W.E.B Du Bois, was all these things and more. He helped found both the Niagara Movement and the NAACP, was the first African American to receive a Ph. D from Harvard, served as chairman of the Peace Information Center, and achieved a huge list of other accomplishments. Much like Frederick Douglass last week, it is impossible to sum up such an important figure in a few paragraphs for a blog entry. I recommend reading any and all of his writings you can find at the library. There are also plenty of books about the man, as well. A prolific writer and a ceaseless advocate, he sadly did not live to see his ideals begin to become reality. He died the day before the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and before the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act became enacted. But much like Douglass previously, it is best to let the man speak for himself.
After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world, -- a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his twoness, -- an American, a Negro; two warring souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder. The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife, -- this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self.