7 things that you may not know about Web du Bois (1868-1963)

1)W.E.B. Du Bois was born on Feb. 23, 1868 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

2)He was the first African American to graduate with a Ph.D. from Harvard, serving as a model for the advancement of educational opportunities for African Americans.

3)In 1905, Du Bois co-founded the Niagara Movement, a black civil rights organization opposing the Atlanta Compromise. In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt dishonorably discharged 167 black soldiers, which included many who were nearing retirement. In September of the same year, the Atlanta race riot broke out in which a white mob thrashed every black they encountered leading to at least 25 deaths. These two incidents are considered a turning point for the African American community marking the ascendancy of Du Bois’s vision of equal rights.

4)In 1909, W.E.B. Du Bois co-founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), an important African-American civil rights organization which remains active. He was also the editor of NAACP’s journal The Crisis for its first 24 years.

5)He fought imperialism and colonialism, heading up several pan-African conferences to help release African colonies from European colonialism. He was one of the leaders of a Pan-African Congress that insisted Africa be ruled by Africans and insisted on racial equality.

6)In 1961, Du Bois moved to Ghana. He started work on the Encyclopedia Africana to serve as a resource on Africans and people of African descent throughout the world.

7)The greatest legacy of Du Bois is his immense contribution as a writer. As poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, historian, and journalist, he wrote 21 books, edited 15 more, and published over 100 essays and articles. His most outstanding work is perhaps Souls of Black Folk (1903), a collection of 14 essays in which he defined key themes of the African-American experience. The book is considered a seminal work in the history of sociology and a cornerstone of African-American literary history. Honors awarded to Du Bois in his lifetime include the Lenin Peace Prize by USSR in 1959. Posthumous honors include US Postal Service issuing a postage stamp with his portrait in 1992.

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