150 years ago today, in 1868, prolific writer and civil rights activist W.E.B. DuBois was born in Massachusetts.
His full name, William Edward Burghardt DuBois, was born to Mary Silvina, a descendant of slaves in the U.S., and Alfred DuBois, an immigrant from Haiti. DuBois attended Harvard University under the tutelage of American philosopher William James. DuBois earned a bachelor’s degree in history and in 1895, became the first African-American to earn a Ph. D from Harvard University.
His career was shaped by the topic of racism in America. He gained prominence as a leader of the Niagara Movement which was a movement by a group of African-Americans advocating for the rights of blacks in America. One of their targets was Booker T. Washington, an American author who founded an institute that trained African-Americans in technical skills like agriculture and industry. DuBois fought against this institute, accusing Washington of submitting to white political rule and denying the advancement of African-American rights as citizens.
His essay on Washington was included in his publication of The Souls of Black Folk, which came out in 1930 and gained DuBois fame and recognition. W.E.B. Dubois also wrote several other essays including The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study (1899), Black Reconstruction in America (1935), and The Negro (1915).
DuBois was also an editor for the NAACP’s journal The Crisis, which he helped found along with the organization in 1909. He remained with the NAACP until 1934, when he broke with the organization due to ideological differences. The years following were defined by explorations of race as well as socialism, as DuBois became an advocate of Marxist theories.
In 1961, DuBois moved to Ghana, where he passed away on August 27, 1963.
The Celebrity Cafe is celebrating Black History Month.