“There is in this world no such forces as the force of a person determined to rise. The human soul cannot be permanently chained”
William Edward Burghardt “W.E.B.” Du Bois (Feb. 23, 1868 – Aug. 27, 1963) is remembered as a civil rights activist, Pan-Africanist, sociologist, educator, historian, writer, editor and poet.
- Du Bois was one of the founding members of the Niagara Movement. Established in 1905, the movement earned its name because it stood as a symbol of the mighty current of change coming in regards to segregation and racism. The small organization was a precursor to the NAACP, which was formed in 1909.
- In 1895, Du Bois became the first African-American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University. The following year, he enrolled as a doctoral student at one of Berlin’s oldest universities, Friedrich-Wilhelms University, which is now called Humboldt University. He was given an honorary doctoral degree from Humboldt in 1958.
- He introduced the concept of the “talented tenth” in an essay published in September 1903. The talented tenth were considered Black elites who had the responsibility and duty to better the lives of less fortunate African-Americans.
- In 1900, Du Bois was a leader of the first Pan-African Conference in London. He also led four other Pan-African Congresses held from 1919 to 1927.
- W.E.B. Du Bois and fellow Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey had ideological differences that focused on the debate of integration vs. separation. However, they both cared about Africa and were committed to the cause of African prosperity.
- In 1961, Du Bois moved to Ghana. He started work on the Encyclopedia Africana to serve as a resource on Africans and people of African descent throughout the world.
- During his lifetime, Du Bois wrote 21 books and edited 15 others, and he published more than 100 essays and articles. In 1903, Du Bois published his seminal work, a collection of 14 essays titled The Souls of Black Folk.
- The site of the boyhood home in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, where Du Bois grew up became a National Historic Landmark in 1979.