The Souls of Black Folk Questions and Answers
by W. E. B. Du Bois

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What is W. E. B. Du Bois' motivation for writing The Souls of Black Folk?

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Du Bois had several goals in writing The Souls of Black Folk. At the dawn of a new century, he wanted to explain to white audiences what the experience of being a black person in America felt like. He specifically wanted to explain the feeling of having a double consciousness: black people, he asserted, saw themselves both as they were and as white people saw them. Because of the dual vision they had to constantly shift between the two consciousnesses. He articulated, too, his concerns about the "color line" that separated the worldview of black people and white people.

Du Bois also wrote the book to push back against what he saw as the mistaken vision of prominent black leaders like Booker T. Washington. While he respected what people like Washington did to help the black community, he ultimately felt that their compromise with whites was destructive to the black community and would achieve nothing politically for black people. Washington, a former slave, believed black people should...

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