What was the main topic of Du Bois' essay?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The idea of "the talented tenth" discusses the notion of where political power and change for African- Americans will originate.  The idea in Du Bois' speech is that only one out of ten African- American will have the training and education in order to lead their race and lead the world in achieving social change.  Du Bois seeks to increase this number through the establishment of the Historically Black College and empower those who are in need. As opposed to creating a condition where people of color, particularly African- Americans, work in factories or in settings where financial income is one of relative comfort, Du Bois is more concerned with how there can be a transformation of power and a fuller understanding of political autonomy.  It is in this light that Du Bois argues that the "talented tenth" will end up being more meaningful and significant than social compromises that have African- Americans making a paltry living in factories and being anonymous in this power structure.

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