The Souls of Black Folk Characters
by W. E. B. Du Bois

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The Souls of Black Folk Characters

The main characters in The Souls of Black Folk are Alexander Crummel, W.E.B. Du Bois, Josie, and Booker T. Washington.

  • Alexander Crummel is the first black man to be ordained as an Episcopalian priest.
  • W.E.B. Du Bois is the author and sometimes-narrator of the memoir. He endeavors to portray both his own experience and that of black Americans at large.
  • Josie is a farm worker who Du Bois befriended in Tennessee. Josie dies as a consequence of a hard life.
  • Booker T. Washington is Du Bois's ideological rival, who promotes racial compromise and encourages black people to accept their station as social inferiors.


(Nonfiction Classics for Students)

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Alexander Crummel
Alexander Crummel is the first African-American man ordained an Episcopalian priest.Over the course of his long life, he established his own parish, seeks counsel and inspiration in England, and ministers in Africa out of the ardent desire to uplift his people. As a man who strives to aid his people with very little support or recognition, his life is a great inspiration to Du Bois.

W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois is the author of The Souls of Black Folk, and because the essays reflect his own experience, the hero, he narrates the collection, moving from the third to the first person and back, in an effort to represent the fullness of the African-American experience by representing his own.

John Jones
John Jones is the protagonist in the fiction story ‘‘Of the Coming of John.’’ He is a young black man from southeastern Georgia who is sent north to school in hopes that he will return home a teacher. Although at first he is a lax student, once he sets his mind to study he becomes committed to education and self-improvement. As he learns and gains exposure to the Northern culture, he feels more and more acutely the stigma of racism, and after being slighted at a New York concert on account of his color, he determines to return home to teach. Once home, he inadvertently offends the white community with what appears to be provocative ideas. Given his exposure to a better, more informed lifestyle in the North, John's resentment over the disparity between blacks and whites overtakes him. When he comes upon his former playmate (a white bigot also named John)...

(The entire section is 471 words.)