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Black History Month


Du Bois believed in education, liberation

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, a scholar, civil rights leader and the founder of the Niagara Movement, which grew into the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, became known for a multitude of endeavors.

But W.E.B. Du Bois is most famous for his belief that educated black people, the so-called ''talented tenth,'' could solve the race problem in America by providing the leadership and uplift that the masses of black people would need to live in an integrated society.

These arguments were expressed in his book ''The Souls of Black Folk,'' published in 1903.

Du Bois' views contrasted sharply with his opponent Booker T. Washington, another leading black educator in the early 1900s.

Washington's emphasis was on industrial training for blacks, believing this was the way to achieve a larger role in society.

Du Bois, the first black to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University (1895), also developed a strong belief that African-Americans should help determine the world's destiny and that this was much more important to American civil rights leaders than a practical approach to ending segregation. In 1934, this position caused tension at the NAACP and he resigned.

He later rejoined the civil rights organization, but -- after World War I -- his growing association with Russia and causes for world peace and his articulate condemnation of racial oppression made him a liability to the NAACP. After all, this was a time of anti-Communist hysteria, so again he was forced to resign from the organization.

By this time, the man who was born in Great Barrington, Mass., Feb. 23, 1868, had tired of race and politics in America. He moved to Ghana at the age of 93, renouncing his U.S. citizenship.

In Africa, Du Bois studied African culture and authored ''The Encyclopedia Africana.'' When he died on Aug. 27, 1963, he was 95.

-- By Angela Dyer and E. Dyer

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