W.E.B DU BOIS
Du Bois grew up in New Victorian England where he flourished academically. He managed to join Fisk University, as opposed to his dream- Harvard University. It is at this university that Du Bois interacted with the children of former slaves. He identified with their culture and the oppression they had gone through. He further witnessed the oppression and racial discrimination while teaching in Tennessee. This made him to resolve to fight inequality and racial discrimination. He resolved to pursue further studies and was lucky enough to secure a scholarship at Harvard. Du Bois was raised by his mother since his father left soon after the birth of the child. His mother encouraged him to work hard in school and Du Bois always felt indebted to her for this. His excellence in school made him to stand out from his white peers especially because there were very many social boundaries for blacks at the time. He promised to become an outstanding individual from early on in his life. Coincidentally, at Fisk University Du Bois acquired his identity and guidance as to the direction his life would take. While still at Harvard, Du Bois witnessed that influential white politicians undermined the former achievements made through reconstruction. The nation declined to a state of barbarism towards the black folk. He studied matters relating to race relations at a time when repressive laws were being passed and many malicious acts were directed towards the blacks. This motivated him to direct his literature towards highlighting the plight of blacks. The plight for equality coincided with the international colonization of other nations. Du Bois included their plight in his works in line with the Pan-African movement.
This raised the consciousness on the need of other countries to be free of colonial rule and to be independent. Du Bois married Nina Gomer in 1809. He continued with his fight for human equality and black empowerment. In 1900, he presented a paper on the achievements of the back people while at Paris. The decade that followed was a challenging one for him and for the black people in general because of the numerous lynching that had become common. Law enforcers condoned the killing of blacks in public places, in brute fashions that merely displayed how unequal society had become.
These malicious acts towards the black folk called for various black leaders, Du Bois included, to form the Niagara Movement. The organization mainly sought to empower blacks politically and economically. Du Bois was involved in active demonstrations by the NAACP that rebuked the killing of backs in mob justice. He eventually acquired an influential role at the organization and spearheaded the passing of anti-lynching laws.
He later became more renowned when his views on black equality become internationally recognized. This included his petition of the oppression of minority groups in America before the UN. He was often mistaken for being a foreign agent and was detached from the civil rights movement for this reason. However, he became more determined and decided to join politics when he ran for senator in 1951 with the Labor party. His campaign ads recognized him as a Negro and an American. His concern for backs was shown by his lectures on the future of Africa and disarmament. Many elites have termed Du Bois as a prophet who did not received the honor he deserved. His positive ideas were undermined by irrational debates and the search for political colonies by superpowers. He met with African leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah and identified with the freedom of African countries (Shaw, 146).
In his last statement to the world, Du Bois noted that it is non-essential for people to accept truths for their mere existence and instead they ought to seek for a broader life with purpose and meaning. Du Bois expressed his views through his literature. This included the books he wrote, such as The Souls of Black Folk. The Niagara movement of which he was a prominent leader, advocated for the treatment of blacks as humans and with the full respect they deserved. The joining of white liberals undermined the movement.
The role of Du Bois in African nationalism led to his title as the father of Pan-Africanism. He was an advocate for the rights of the oppressed during the colonial period and the equalization of blacks. Researchers note that his philosophical work and his role in Afro-American politics are not fully appreciated. He was an activist for the black population and later an advocate of communism for over half a century. Du Bois was concerned with the colonial occupation of developing countries in Asia and Africa by the developed countries.
He interacted with African leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah. This means that he influenced the first leaders in Africa and hence played a role in the attaining of independence by the colonies. Du Bois organized the Pan African conferences of 1910-1920. Some scholars argued that he merely attempted to reclaim the racial identity of African-Americans through his concern for Africa (Randolph, 879).
Du Bois rose from the role of an instructor in the classics to become a force to reckon with in the field of sociology. At the same time, he was able to interact with poor African-Americans and this encouraged him to write on the plight of blacks. He managed to challenge the views of other renowned writers such as Washington Booker. This is because the later had publically encouraged blacks to settle for the mere rights of a citizen.
He encouraged the blacks to work for acquisition of personal property and to ignore political and economic roles of leadership. This is what Du Bois was especially against since he believed African Americans could rise to the positions of leadership in the new America, after the end of the civil war.
Washington advocated for accomodationalism while Du bois was more radical. Du Bois is hence a pioneer to the America that exists today, led by a black president. The Pan African movement that he began marked the beginning of third world consciousness. He was a revolutionary leader who did not particularly seek for a mass following. This was contrary to Marcus Garvey who relied on crowds to attain the conviction of the people and the scholars.
Du Bois was inherently personal, his believes stemmed from within, and that is why he was determined and hardly ever shaken off from what he pursued. After World War 2, Du Bois became an international figure and his debates focused on challenging the theories of his contemporaries. His move to Africa was not one of rejection of all that he had fought for in America, but a resolution to the many conflicts he had struggled for in his life (Wolters, 546).
His vision and ideas in his later life pointed to the ideals he had written on the double existence of being African American (both a black and an American). One of the most significant achievements in the life of William Du Bois is his views on the new America after the end of the civil war. This, coupled with his opposition of the views of Booker T. Washington, was a major force in empowering the blacks to rise to positions of leadership.
The open opposition of Booker’s point of view showed that he was indeed not seeking for a following by the blacks or a liking by the whites. He was merely pointing out what was very evident but no one was willing to say it.
He displayed a deep sense of self-value and esteem in the power of blacks. Washington, also a black, believed the best way for blacks to mark their niche in the American society was through becoming indispensable workers in the country’s industries. He discouraged the aggregation that the blacks were making concerning their right to vote to reduce anti-black violence. Du Bois believed in a different approach of ending the violence against blacks and enhancing equality. He did not condone cowing down and accepting a minor role in the new America.
His political beliefs encouraged the aacquisition of voting rights and active roles in politics. He believed in this so much that he spearheaded the Niagara movement. Later in his life, he even ran for senator on a liberal party ticket. This showed that he had a vision and this set stage for other revolutionary leaders such as Martin Lurther King. He believed in education of blacks and in the intellectual accomplishment of backs so much that they could rise to positions of leadership. Some of the controversies in the beliefs of Du Bois included the fact that he believed that voting rights should not be given to uneducated blacks, but to the select educated few. The American history was largely influenced by Du Bois, his beliefs and the conscious efforts he made in fighting for equalization of human rights, especially for the minority races in the United States of America. Generations of African American living in America today enjoy freedom just any race does in America. This is largely due to the effort of people like Du Bois who did not shy away from rebuking the inequalities that were practised by the whites.
Du Bois died in 1963 while still in Ghana, Africa. He died at the age of 95 while on special invite to Africa by president Kame Nkrumah. He had become a citizen of the country that same year and died while he was director of encyclopedia Africana. He died as a pioneer civil activist, pan-Africanist and leader of minorities.
Shaw, Stephanie J. W. E. B. Du Bois and the Souls of Black Folk. , 2013. Print.
Randolph, Ryan P. W.e.b. Du Bois: The Fight for Civil Rights. New York: PowerPlus Books,
Wolters, Raymond. Du Bois and His Rivals. Columbia [u.a.: Univ. of Missouri Press, 2004.