W.E.B. Dubois Presented Objectively Essay, Research Paper
W.E. B. DuBois Presented Objectively
William Edward Burghardt DuBois was an intellectual “Jack of All Trades.” DuBois was a scholar , activist, writer, and an international diplomat. During his time, he was at least involved in if not in the forefront of every movement advocating equal rights for African Americans. DuBois provided the impetus for numerous organizations and periodicals. Dubois dedicated a part of himself to numerous worthy causes, but that same generosity had a detrimental effect on the out come of his efforts. As a result of distributing his efforts amongst many worthy causes, DuBois rarely followed his individual dreams to complete fruition. Although DuBois may not have taken every step he could, he went farther than many people will ever go to better the lives of their people.
DuBois made monumental contributions to history, politics, and to lives of African Americans that have been paralleled by few and eclipsed by none.
DuBois discovered his purpose in life at the early age of twenty. Dubois was , he said “determined to make a scientific conquest of my environment , which would render the emancipation of the Negro race easier and quicker” (Stafford 35) . After discovering his purpose DuBois made a promise to himself and decided that he was devoting himself “toward a life that shall be an honor to the race ” (Stafford 35 ). The first obstacle DuBois encountered was gaining support from his own people. At the beginning of the twentieth century , America?s most prominent Black leader was Booker T. Washington. Washington believed that “Blacks should delay their campaign for political , social , and intellectual equality and concentrate chiefly on making economic gains ” ( 13 ). In contrast , DuBois thought Washington ” perpetuated the view that blacks were an inferior people ” ( 14 ) .Most people live their lives conforming to society?s standards . “DuBois was a part of an elite group of Blacks who defied the comfortable stereotypes cherished by white bigots ” ( 14 ). “DuBois was one of the first Black intellectuals to advocate a militant solution to racial problems ” ( Ferris 180 ). Previously , intellectuals sought equality through legislative procedures and playing on society’s ethics . Violence was often the angry outcry of the lesser educated black populus.
One of DuBois?s first endeavors was the Niagara Movement in 1905. This movement. Was started in response to Washington?s perpetuating policies. DuBois organized a select group of influential Blacls to discuss the current state of Black affairs. At their meeting the members proclaimed ” We want our children trained as intelligent human beings should be and we will fight for all time against any proposal to educate Black boys and girls simply as servants and underlings, or simply for the use of other people” ( Stafford 67 ). They vowed ” to stand up for manhood rights , denounce and
defeat oppressive laws, and assail the ears and the conscience of white Americans so long as America is unjust ” ( McKissack 67 ). At this point DuBois needed a means yo spread
his message. Also in 1905 ” DuBois launched a liberal journal called The Moon to publicize the Niagara Movement?s views, but the journal failed to reach a large audience and ground to a halt a half year later ” ( Marable 56 ). This was just the first of several publications and organizations Dubois was to lead ” Though the Niagara Movement created a considerable stir , its maximum membership was only about 400 and beyond agitation its accomplishments were relatively limited ” ( Meier 48 ). The last meeting of the movement was held in 1909.
DuBois was involved in numerous overlapping activities. Also in 1905 DuBois started The Horizon which was another short – lived periodical which lasted about three years. In 1909 a meeting was held to discuss Black advancement. This led to a conference in 1910 at which DuBois helped establish the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (N. A. A. C. P.) . Ironically, this association was controlled and financed by white people. However , DuBois was enthusiastic and believed this marked ” a new alliance between social workers and reformers ” ( Logan 132 ). At this point DuBois believed that all people of the United States could coexist in racial harmony as expressed in his theory that ” if white men were prejudiced because of their ignorance and Black men were held back because of their ignorance , then education had to be the key to reconciling the races ” ( Hamilton 178 ). DuBois ? position in the N.A.A.C.P. was director of publicity and research. From this position DuBois launched his next
publication, Crisis , which was intended to be the official publication of the N.A.A.C.P. However , DuBois controlled its contents and made certain yhat it reflected his own
views. His strong militant views did not go unoticed by the white members of the N.A.A.C.P. In 1934 after attempting to democratize the N.A.A.C.P. , DuBois resigned from the crisis and the N.A.A.C.P.
DuBois was involved in the Pan – Africanism movement from 1900 until about 1947. This movements purpose was to provide assistance to the colonies in Africa. DuBois believed that ” The new African state that must come into being would make mistakes , in part because they had not been given the opportunity to participate meaningfully in their own governance , such errors would be learned from , and were a necessary concomitant of the new powers of self – determination that must come to Africa “( Moore 56-57 ). Although DuBois was a very prominent figure in the Pan – Africanism movement , once again differences of opinion with other leaders eventually weakened his involvement .
DuBois fluctuated between numerous organizations and movements , but his philosophies and ethics were also changing throughout his life. Initially , DuBois was willing to work side by side with white people who he believed shared his vision. However, in the early 1930?s his racial tone began to shift . ” He believed his efforts to
work together with white people were fruitless and that his initial idea that an educated person is less likely to be prejudiced was untrue ” ( Mckissack 97). A person?s philosophies can easily change through experience and the acquisition pf knowledge.
DuBois ? failures opened his eyes to new ideas. ” He began to believe that the key to Black advancement was within the race itself ” ( 98 ). DuBois compared and contrasted communism, capitalism, democracy, and socialism. To decide which form of government was best, he cited the benefits each held for Black Americans. DuBois was a member of the socialist party in 1911 and 1912 but ” DuBois made no secret about the fact that he admired the Soviet Government for its commitment to racial harmony and equality ” ( 117 ). DuBois even sent a letter to the chairman of the communist party applying for membership. He was definitely a man of constant change. Marcus Garvey , also a Black political leader , said:
In his fifty – five years , DuBois personally , has made a success of nothing. In all his journalistic , personal , and other business efforts he has failed and if it were not for (his white associates) DuBois , no doubt , would be eating his pork chops from the counter of the cheapest restaurant in Harlem like many other Negro graduates of Harvard and Fisk. ( Marable 99 )
Garvey?s opinion of DuBois is based strictly on the outcomes of various situations.
DuBois was not a good finisher. He was a great initiator. His purpose was to open the minds of others so that they may take action themselves , not necessarily under his
guidance. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream but it was not his personal responsibility to bring it to fruition alone. Very few people accomplish everything they want to do in life,
but to inspire others to continue your dreams after you are gone, is a true accomplishment and that is the legacy of W.E.B. DuBois.
Ferris, William H, ” W.E.B. DuBois “.Contemporary Literary Criticism. ED Dedria
Bryfonski. Detroit: Gale Research company, 1980. 180 – 182.
Hamilton , Virginia . W.E.B. DuBois : A Biography . New York : Harper Collins , 1972.
Logan, Rayford W. W.E.B. DuBois A Profile. New York: Hill and Wang, 1971.
Marable, Manning. W.E.B. DuBois Black Radical Democrat. Boston: Twayne, 1986.
Mckissack, Patricia & Frederick . W.E.B. DuBois. New York : Franklin Wastts , 1990.
Meir , David Levering . W.E.B. DuBois : Biography of a Race. New York: Henry Holt , 1993.
Moore , Jack B. W.E.B. DuBois . Boston : Twayne , 1981.
Stafford, Mark . W.E.B DuBois Scholar and Activist . New York : Chelsea House , 1989.