William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was an influential African American intellectual leader in the United States, who lived between 1868 and 1963.As a sociologist, historian, civil right activist, Pan-Africanist, author, editor and educator, W.E.B…
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was an influential African American intellectual leader in the United States, who lived between 1868 and 1963.As a sociologist, historian, civil right activist, Pan-Africanist, author, editor and educator, W.E.B. Du Bois explored scholarship, integration, national self determination, human rights, cultural and economic separatism, politics, third world solidarity, expatriation and international communism as possible solutions to the issue of racism that was prevalent in the twentieth century America society in which he lived (Lewis, 2001). W.E.B. Du Bois emerged in the limelight through his opposition to Booker T. Washington alleged idea of accommodation as a solution to the problems affecting the African-American population (Calhoun et al., 2009). In place of the idea of accommodation, W.E.B. Du Bois advocated increased political participation of African Americans to ensure civil rights and challenged African-Americans to achieved greater successes in their endeavors and become exceptional leaders in their communities to ensure progress of the African-American race. Indeed, W.E.B Du Bois suggested that African-Americans should focus on obtaining higher education in the liberal arts as this will equip them to negotiate and change a society that is dominated by racism, hate and prejudice (Alridge 2008). As a mixed-race son of a lone impoverished mother, W.E.B. Du Bois faced challenges that shaped his educational ideology. He worked after-school to support himself and his mother, who could not work as a result of stroke. His childhood experiences and those at school; in addition to the relationships he forged while at schools nourished his ideology that education provides the means through which African American can advance their socio-economic standing. Life of W.E.B. Du Bois: events that shape his thoughts W.E.B. Du Bois was born on February 23, 1868, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, to Alfred Du Bois and Mary Silvina Burghardt Du Bois (Alridge, 2008). Great Barrington, where W.E.B. Du Bois grew up, was a predominantly Anglo-American settlement. His maternal family was part of the relatively very small black population in Great Barrington while his father, who was of a mixed race – French Huguenot and African – was from Haiti (Wolters, 2003). Before W.E.B. Du Bois was two years old, his father deserted the family. While still young, Du Bois’ mother suffered stroke that rendered her incapable of working. Thus, the family relied on charity from family members and the income from W.E.B. Du Bois after-school work. The predominantly white population of Great Barrington notwithstanding, Du Bois never felt separated while at school (Du Bois, 1903). In fact, some neighborhood whites rented Du Bois and his mother a house in Great Barrington (Du Bois, 1903). However, a certain experience during a game of “calling cards” when a white girl refused to accept his card on the basis of his skin color, led him to the realization that racism is ingrained in the thinking and life of some people in the American society (Du Bois, 1903). As a young boy working to support his incapacitated mother and himself, he realized early in life that education holds the key to the door of economic and social emancipation and betterment of not only his family but that of other African-Americans. His successes in his academic pursuit confirmed his belief and also equipped him in his quest for the empowerment of African Americans. Encouraged by his teachers, who recognized his intellectual potentials, he majored in classical courses in high school (Du Bois, 1903). He attended Fisk University, Harvard University and University of Berlin. His study stay at Berlin led to his intellectual maturation as he was opportune to study under German prominent social scientists. He also travelled extensively throughout Europe during his study at Berlin. These experiences and relationships nourished and shaped W.E.B. Du ...
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