Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In Cheer the Lonesome Traveler: The Life of W. E. B. Du Bois, Leslie Alexander Lacy seeks to interpret the highlights of the life and career of Du Bois that distinguished him as a great African-American leader. While the chapters of Cheer the Lonesome Traveler recount Du Bois’ life chronologically, Lacy writes in the introduction that his work is largely devoted to answering the following questions:What was the young Du Bois really like? Why was the conflict between him and Booker T. Washington so intense? Why did he criticize Marcus Garvey, the black nationalist of the twenties who advocated a “Back to Africa” plan? What were Du Bois’s ideas about a united Africa? After spending most of his life rejecting communism, why did he belatedly join the Communist party? Why did he eventually reject America to become a Ghanaian citizen? And finally how did Du Bois come to view himself?

In order to answer these questions, Lacy combines a narrative account of Du Bois’ life with a sprinkling of quotes from his own writings and from the work of one of Du Bois’ biographers, Elliot Rudwick. The author traces the roots of Du Bois’ dedication to the racial problem to his college days spent in the Southern United States. In Cheer the Lonesome Traveler, he also chronicles Du Bois’ travels to Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Soviet Union, allowing the young adult reader to see how Du Bois’ thinking fit into the larger arena of world...

(The entire section is 474 words.)