W. E. B. Du Bois Analysis

Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Virginia Hamilton, in W. E. B. Du Bois: A Biography, tells more than the story of Du Bois’ life; the book is also the history of the struggle for equal rights for African Americans and of the profound influence that Du Bois had on that process. Du Bois lived for ninety-five years, so the biography is able to portray the progress and setbacks that occurred over a considerable period of time. Struggles within the African-American community itself are also shown; the debates between Du Bois and Booker T. Washington became a crossroads in the unification of African Americans. Hamilton provides an objective account by drawing upon diary entries and quotations from Du Bois’ speeches and other writings. The reader follows Du Bois in his struggle to obtain the rights for Southern African Americans to vote, to achieve equal access to public facilities, and to end the separation of blacks and whites.

Du Bois believed that education was the road from poverty for African Americans. He went to college, obtaining his B.A. from Fisk University and his Ph.D. from Harvard University; Harvard, however, first made him repeat his junior and senior B.A. program because it would not recognize a degree from a black Southern college. Du Bois was the first sociologist in the field of African-American studies to use experiment and observation as a basis of his research. His program for a scientific study of blacks was finally undertaken by Atlanta University. In 1897, Du Bois believed that the scientific study of his people—the gathering of knowledge of their past and present—was of paramount importance. Assuming that...

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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Broderick, Francis L. W. E. B. Du Bois: Negro Leader in a Time of Crisis. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1959. An older work still valuable for understanding the evolving views of W. E. B. Du Bois. It contains much biographical information and is especially incisive in capturing the troubled spirit of Du Bois through his many difficult transitions.

Byerman, Keith E. Seizing the Word: History, Art, and Self in the Work of W. E. B. Du Bois. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1994. Examines Du Bois in terms of contemporary literary and cultural theory. Discusses the work of Du Bois and its influence on nineteenth and twentieth century America.

Horne, Gerald, and Mary Young, eds. W. E. B. Du Bois: An Encyclopedia. New York: Greenwood Press, 2001. A guide to the life and work of Du Bois.

Lewis, David Levering. W. E. B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race, 1868-1919. New York: H. Holt, 1993. This 1994 Pulitzer Prize-winning book chronicles the major impact Du Bois’s controversial thinking had on the United States. It focuses on a crucial fifty-year period in Du Bois’s life and in the nation’s civil rights struggle.

Lewis, David Levering. W. E. B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century, 1919-1963. New York: Henry Holt, 2000. This second volume in Lewis’s massive biography of Du Bois focuses on the last forty-four years of Du Bois’s life.

Rampersad, Arnold. The Art and Imagination of W. E. B. Du Bois. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1976. An especially good treatment of Du Bois’s creative genius. Essentially a biography, traces Du Bois’s life from his New England beginnings to his last years in Ghana.

Rudwick, Elliott M. W. E. B. Du Bois: Voice of the Black Protest Movement. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1982. A well-documented study; covers the full sweep of Du Bois’s career from his youth to his later involvements in pan-Africanism and peace promotion.