What is the story "The Souls of Black Folk" about?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Souls of Black Folk is a collection of essays about the black experience in the United States.  W.E.B. DuBois wrote the book in the early 1900s because he believed that race would be the central problem of the twentieth century. 

The essays are loosely grouped thematically.  The first three address historical and political issues related to the black experience, including literacy, the right to vote, and "how it feels to be the problem".  He also debates the differences between his philosophies and those of Booker T. Washington, whom he considered to be an assimilationist.

The next six essays incorporate stories of life in the South with DuBois' own analysis.  They include testimonials from his own life and those of others, and focus on the legacy of slavery, the hardships of the poor in the South, and the utmost importance of education in enabling blacks to rise above their situation.

The final five essays explore black spirituality through personal anecdotes and interpretation.

Read the study guide:
The Souls of Black Folk

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