What were the major arguments by W.E.B Du Bois in regards to furthering civil rights in America during the period of World War I?

Expert Answers
ecofan74 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The arguments made by Du Bois regarding the furthering of civil rights in the United States during the period of World War I were not substantially different from those provided both before and after the Great War.  Du Bois, however, did accelerate his interest in Pan-Africanism in the decade beginning at the end of World War I.

Du Bois argued that for Africans to be free anywhere, they must be free everywhere.  In saying this, Du Bois suggests that the push for civil rights can only work if the perspective of the leaders of the movement extended beyond American boundaries.  In 1920, Du Bois traveled to Europe at the time of the Peace Conference to call for a new Pan-African Conference.  While it proved not as successful as he was hoping, it does illustrate where a focus of his argument for civil rights lay.

During the First World War, Du Bois also targeted his arguments at the reality of war.  He focused his attention on those who went off to fight.  He pushed for the formation of officer schools to train Black officers, for a stronger stance against lynching, and for the establishment of an employment program for returning Black servicemen.  Since Blacks were going to war and were serving their country in the same way as their White counterpart, they should be afforded greater rights.

Du Bois realized that the pursuit of civil rights was not purely an American concern.  If anything, American experience in World War I clearly illustrated how connected the world truly was at the time.  Du Bois extends this idea to his attitude toward civil rights.

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question