As Black History Month winds down, what better person to note and quote than the prolific author W.E.B. Du Bois, who was born in February 1868 and died when I was in high school in 1963.
Du Bois’ collection of essays, The Souls of Black Folk, was a seminal work in African-American literature; and his 1935 magnum opus Black Reconstruction in America challenged the prevailing orthodoxy that blacks were responsible for the failures of the Reconstruction Era. He also wrote one of the first scientific treatises in the field of American sociology and published three autobiographies, each of which contains insightful essays on sociology, politics and history.
And, he was a major advocate for education of African-American youth. Concerned that textbooks used by African-American children ignored black history and culture, Du Bois created a monthly
children's magazine, The Brownies' Book. Initially published in 1920. It was aimed at black children, who Du Bois called "the children of the sun."
One of the founders of the NAACP, he was a longtime editor of that organization’s journal The Crisis, and as such published many influential pieces on African-American history and the struggle for Civil Rights. A much sought-after presenter on Civil Rights, he worked tirelessly for what would become the Civil Rights Act, enacted less than a year after he died.
“Read some good, heavy, serious
books just for discipline,” DuBois advised. “Take yourself in hand and master yourself.”
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