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William Edward Burghardt “W.E.B” Du Bois was a prominent civil rights activist, journalist and sociologist who co-founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He supported Pan-Africanism and opposed Booker T. Washington’s Atlanta Compromise. Du Bois was the first African-American to earn a PhD from Harvard University.
See the fact file below for more information on W.E.B Du Bois or alternatively, you can download our comprehensive worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
- On February 23, 1868, W.E.B Du Bois was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. He was the son of Alfred and Mary Silvina, both descendants of mixed-race.
- Young William grew up in a European-American community.
- He considered himself a mulatto yet he received education from white teachers.
- In 1885, Du Bois saw the manifestation of Jim Crow laws when he attended Fisk University, in Nashville Tennessee. From there, he began to see racism in America.
- In 1888, he entered Harvard University for his bachelor’s degree and graduated cum laude in 1890.
- Upon earning his bachelor’s degree, he pursued graduate studies in history and economics at the University of Berlin in 1892 under a study-abroad program by the Slater Fund fellowship.
- In 1895, Du Bois became the first African-American to earn a PhD at Harvard University. His dissertation The Suppression of the African Slave Trade to the United States of America, 1638-1870, became the leading publication in Harvard Historical Series.
- Decades later, he was awarded with an honorary doctoral degree from Humboldt-Universitat, formerly known as Friedrich-Wilhelms Universitat.
- By 1896, he worked as an instructor at the University of Pennsylvania and pioneered sociological studies in urban communities. One of his first publications was The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study.
Du Bois’ Beliefs and Activism
- In 1905, Du Bois founded the Niagara Movement, a protest group comprising African-American scholars and professionals. He also created and edited the Moon (1906) and Horizon (1907-10), as organs of the movement.
- In 1909, he became one of the co-founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and served as its publicity and research director until 1934.
- In addition, Du Bois was the editor of NAACP’s monthly magazine, The Crisis. It became one of the leading protest magazines that featured young African-American writers.
- With his idea of Pan-Africanism, DuBois attended the First Universal Races Congress in London with black intellectuals from West Indies and Africa. Since then, pan-African congresses were held around the world. A number of resolutions were passed condemning African oppression.
- Du Bois gained his national prominence when he publicly opposed Booker T. Washington’s “Atlanta Compromise.” While he was working as a professor at Atlanta University, Du Bois believed that Washington was not demanding equality for African-Americans.
- In 1947, Du Bois wrote the famous “Appeal to the World” while serving as a consultant to the UN founding convention. He used his skills in writing to place African-American grievances before the United Nations.
- After a year, he became the co-chairman of the Council of African Affairs. As a socialist, Du Bois attended peace conferences and travelled to China and Russia. By 1961, he joined the Communist Party in the United States.
- In 1961, Ghana’s president, Kwame Nkrumah, requested Du Bois be the director of the Encyclopedia Africana.
Death and Lasting Legacy
- On August 27, 1963, on the eve of the March on Washington, Du Bois died in Accra, Ghana, at the age of 95.
- He was regarded as a proponent of modern pan-Africanism. Moreover, Du Bois was credited with organizing congresses aiming to free African colonies from European rule.
- Some of his most significant works include 21 books and over 100 published essays and articles. Furthermore, he edited and co-edited annual publications such as The Negro
- Business, The Negro Artisan, The Negro Church, Economic Cooperation among Negro Americans, and The Negro American Family.
- In 1911 and 1928, he wrote the novels The Quest of the Silver Fleece and Dark Princess: A Romance.
- In 1935, he published Black Reconstruction in America, 1860-1880, which became one of his most significant works yet was highly criticized because of the Marxist concepts used to attack American historiography.
- In 1951, he was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize by the USSR.
W.E.B Du Bois Worksheets
This is a double bundle addition which includes over 20 ready-to-use W.E.B Du Bois worksheets that are perfect for students to learn about William Edward Burghardt “W.E.B” Du Bois who was a prominent civil rights activist, journalist and sociologist who co-founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Worksheet Collection 1:
- W.E.B Du Bois Facts
- Biography: A Scholar’s Life
- The Missing Link
- Person Puzzles
- Du Bois v. Washington
- Years of Du Bois
- Towards Pan-Africanism
- The Souls of Black Folk
- Quotable Lines
- Visual Diary
- Write Like Du Bois
Worksheet Collection 2:
- W.E.B. Du Bois Facts
- W.E.B. Of Facts
- Make It Right
- Word Search
- Niagara Members
- Event Research
- Book Description
- Clash Of Two Minds
- Magazine Match
- Passage Interpretation
- My Encyclopedia
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