W.E.B. DuBois (1868–1963) presaged the American civil rights movement of the mid-twentieth century. This was his main contribution to society. He did this in a number of ways: his role in the NAACP, his vision for Black America, and his role as a civil rights trailblazer.
One way he achieved prominence was through his activity in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He was a co-founder and editor of its periodical, The Crisis. One of the NAACP's early accomplishments was a sharp reduction in the number of lynchings of African Americans. Today, the NAACP is still considered one of the most important civil rights organizations in America.
DuBois was not the only advocate for blacks in his time. Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey were also important figures. However, DuBois had different goals than his contemporaries. Washington merely wanted blacks to be economically self-sufficient. Garvey headed a "back to Africa" campaign.
Martin Luther King was influenced by DuBois, and he gave a stirring speech to honor him in 1968: "One idea he insistently taught was that black people have been kept in oppression and deprivation by a poisonous fog of lies that depicted them as inferior, born deficient and deservedly doomed to servitude to the grave."