Civil Rights Activist, Educator, Journalist (1868-1963)
W.E.B. Du Bois was one of the most important African-American activists during the first half of the 20th century. He co-founded the N.A.A.C.P., supported Pan-Africanism and wrote ‘The Souls of Black Folk.’ He is the first African American to earn a PhD from Harvard University.
He is popular for the quote below:
“Education is that whole system of human training within and without the school house walls, which molds and develops men.”
William Edward Burghardt Du Boi was born on February 23, 1868, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.(his post humous birthday was two days ago)
While growing up in a mostly European American town, W.E.B. Du Bois identified himself as “mulatto,” but freely attended school with whites and was enthusiastically supported in his academic studies by his white teachers.
In 1885, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to attend Fisk University.
After earning his bachelor’s degree at Fisk, Du Bois entered Harvard University. He paid his way with money from summer jobs, scholarships and loans from friends. After completing his master’s degree, he was selected for a study-abroad program at the University of Berlin. While a pupil in Germany, he studied with some of the most prominent social scientists of his day and was exposed to political perspectives that he touted for the remainder of his life.
In 1895, he became the first African American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University.
Du Bois wrote extensively and was the best known spokesperson for African-American rights during the first half of the 20th century. He co-founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (N.A.A.C.P.) in 1909.
A proponent of Pan-Africanism, Du Bois helped organize several Pan-African Congresses to free African colonies from European powers.
W.E.B. Du Bois died on August 27, 1963 — one day before Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington — at the age of 95, in Accra, Ghana, while working on an encyclopedia of the African Diaspora.