William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (dyew-BOYS) was a thinker, writer, editor, teacher, and activist. Among his many distinctions, he was the first African American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University. He helped found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and his ninety-five years saw the United States change from a land of small towns and farms to a nation of cities and industry. He was called many things—visionary, propagandist, scholar, communist, prophet, atheist. Each label held some truth.
Three years after the Civil War ended, W. E. B. Du Bois was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, a town of approximately four thousand people with a scattering of African American families. His...
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After a successful early career as a publishing scholar, W. E. B. Du Bois recognized that the resolution of American racial problems could not be accomplished solely by revealing the truth; therefore, he became an activist. His famous statement, “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line,” demonstrates the focus of his ethical inquiries. Well-read in history, Du Bois argued that the premature end of Reconstruction left not only practical problems but also ethical ones. He believed that it was unethical for America to blame the freed slaves for the vices that had been instilled in them during generations of enslavement. Slavery, followed by a system of strict racial...
(The entire section is 597 words.)