W.E.B Du Bois (February 23,1868-August 27,1963) was one of the most influential Melanated people of the 20th century. After graduating from a historically black college, Fisk University and receiving his Ph.D. from Harvard University, Du Bois would use his education to conduct detailed inquiries into the conditions of blacks in America.
In 1896, his doctoral dissertation titled “The Suppression of the African Slave-Trade to the United States of America, 1638–1870″ was published, and it was obvious that Du Bois felt that the best way to create change in America was by using sociology. Between 1897 and 1914 he wrote 16 research monographs as well as writing: The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study (1899), which was considered the first case study of the African American community in the United States. Shortly after that, Du Bois would quickly realize that attempting to confront racism from a merely academic perspective wasn’t going to cut it. He began to understand that real change could only be achieved through agitation and protest.
This way of thinking created friction between him and Booker T. Washington, who was another polarizing black figure in America at the time. Du Bois felt that Washington’s ideology, which was based around accommodation and not resistance, was more detrimental to black progress than helpful. Du Bois would express his disagreement with Washington in his classic book “The Soul of Black Folk”.
In 1905, Du Bois helped create “The Niagara Movement” which was an organization designed to combat Booker T. Washington’s ideology and liberate black Americans by advocating full political, social and civil rights. Even though the organization would only last until 1909 it became the groundwork for what would later become The NAACP, which Du Bois had a hand in starting as well. For the remainder of his life, he would continue to speak out against racism and strived to correct the inequalities that black Americans had to deal with. Check out the short documentary about his life below!!