W. E. B. Du Bois

Activist / Writer
Date Of Birth:
23 February 1868
Date Of Death:
27 August 1963
Place Of Birth:
Great Barrington, Massachusetts
Best Known As:
Author of The Souls of Black Folk

Name at birth: William Edward Burghardt DuBois

A scholar, writer and political activist, W.E.B. Du Bois was a key founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). W.E.B. Du Bois attended Harvard University and in 1895 became the first African-American to receive a doctorate from the school. He became a university professor, a prolific writer and a pioneering social scientist on the topic of black culture. Du Bois particularly disagreed with black leaders (such as Booker T. Washington) who urged blacks to blend in with white society; Du Bois championed global African unity and (especially in later years) separatism. He distilled his views in his famous 1903 book The Souls of Black Folk. In 1909, Du Bois became a founding member of the NAACP, an organization promoting progress and social equality for blacks. Du Bois continued for decades as a strong public voice on behalf of African-Americans. In the 1950s, Du Bois clashed with the federal government over his support for labor, his public appreciations of the Soviet Union, and his demands that nuclear weapons be outlawed. He emigrated to Ghana in 1961 and became a citizen of that country shortly before his death in 1963. His memoir, The Autobiography of W.E.B. DuBois, was published posthumously in 1968.
Extra Credit

W.E.B. Du Bois married the former Nina Gomer in 1896; they were married until her death in 1950. They had two children: son Burghardt, who died in infancy, and daughter Yolande. Du Bois married the former Shirley Graham in 1951; they had no children, but her son from a previous marriage, David Graham, later took Du Bois’s name.

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