African-Americans in the 1920’s lived in a period of tension. No longer slaves, they were still not looked upon as equals by whites. However, movements such as the Harlem renaissance, as well as several African-American leaders who rose to power during this period, sought to bring the race to new heights. One of these leaders was W.E.B. DuBois, who believed that education was the solution to the race problem. The beliefs of W.E.B. DuBois, as influenced by his background, had a profound effect on his life work, including the organizations he was involved with and the type of people he attracted. His background strongly influenced the way he attacked the "Negro Problem." His influence continues to affect many people.
DuBois was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts in 1868, where the African-American community was small, but for the time, very well respected (McKissack 17). Segregation did not exist (McKissack 17). Economically, DuBois felt "the contrast between the well-to do and the poor was not great. Living was cheap and there was little real poverty" (DuBois 79). His family, while not rich, was not destitute compared to other African-American families during this period. However, DuBois wrote that he "can see that we must have been near the edge of poverty. Yet I was not hungry or in lack of suitable clothing or made to feel unfortunate" (qtd. in Sterne, 3). DuBois’s father, Alfred, left when DuBois was very young and he was raised by his mother, Mary (McKissack 16). Mary emphasized education and hard work as they key to wealth and success (McKissack 16). DuBois inherited this belief, graduating from his high school as the only African-American in his class and...
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... for sociology and histography (Monteiro 1). The mark DuBois has left on society through his life’s work can easily be seen. His beliefs, influenced by his background, had a profound effect on this work.
Clarke, John Henrik, et al. Black Titan: W.E.B. DuBois. Boston: Beacon Press, 1970.
DuBois, W.E.B. The Autobiography of W.E.B. DuBois: A Soliloquy on Viewing My Life From the Last Decade of Its First Century. New York: International Publishers Co., Inc., 1968.
McKissack, Frederick. W.E.B. DuBois. New York: Franklin Watts, 1990.
Monteiro, Tony. W.E.B. DuBois: Scholar, Scientist, and Acitivist. Online: http://members.tripod.com/~DuBois/mont.html. Feb. 20, 1999
Sterne, Emma Gelders. His Was the Voice: The Life of W.E.B. DuBois. New York: Crowell-Collier Press, 1971.
Weinburg, Meyer. His Was the Voice. Westport, Ct.: Greenwood Press, 1992
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