William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (pronounced [dʊˈboɪz]) (February 23, 1868 – August 27, 1963) was an American civil rights activist, leader, Pan-Africanist, sociologist, educator, historian, writer, editor, poet, and scholar. He became a naturalized citizen of Ghana in 1963 at the age of 95.
W. E. B. Du Bois was born on Church Street on February 23, 1868, in Great Barrington at the south-western edge of Massachusetts, to Alfred Du Bois and Mary Silvina Burghardt Du Bois, whose February 5, 1867, wedding had been announced in the Berkshire Courier. Alfred Du Bois had been born in Haiti.
Du Bois was born free and did not have contact with his biological father. He blamed his maternal grandparents for his father's leaving because they did not take kindly to him. Du Bois was very close to his mother, Mary. Du Bois moved frequently when he was young, after Mary suffered a stroke which left her unable to work. They survived on money from family members and Du Bois' after-school jobs. Du Bois wanted to help his mother as much as possible and believed he could improve their lives through education. Some of the neighborhood whites noticed him, and one allowed Du Bois and his mother to rent a house from him in Great Barrington.
While living there, Du Bois performed chores and worked odd jobs. Du Bois did not feel differently because of his skin color while he was in school. In fact the only times he felt out of place was when out-of-towners would visit Great Barrington. One such incident occurred when a white girl who was new in school refused to take one of his fake calling cards during a game. The girl told him she would not accept it because he was black. He then realized that there would always be some kind of barrier between whites and others.
After graduating from Fisk University in 1888, Du Bois took a bachelor's degree cum laude from Harvard College in 1890 (Harvard having refused to recognize the equivalency of his Fisk degree), and in 1892 received a stipend to attend the University of Berlin. While a student in Berlin, he travelled extensively throughout Europe, and came of age intellectually while studying with some of the most prominent social scientists in the German capital, such as Gustav von Schmoller. In 1895, Du Bois became the first African American to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard University. After teaching at Wilberforce University in Ohio and the University of Pennsylvania, he established the department of sociology at Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University).
Du Bois wrote many books including three major autobiographies. Among his works considered most significant were The Philadelphia Negro published in 1899, The Souls of Black Folk in 1903, John Brown in 1909, Black Reconstruction in 1935, and Black Folk, Then and Now in 1939. His book, The Negro (published in 1915) influenced the work of pioneer Africanist scholars as Drusilla Dunjee Houston and William Leo Hansberry. This theme was taken up later and expanded by Eric Foner and Leon F. Litwack, the two leading contemporary scholars of the Reconstruction era.
Du Bois began writing about crime in 1897, shortly after receiving his Ph.D. from Harvard (Zuckerman, 2004, p. 2). His first work involving crime was A Program of Social Reform was shortly followed by his second, The Study of the Negro Problems (Du Bois, 1897; Du Bois, 1898). The first work that involved in depth criminological study and theorizing was The Philadelphia Negro, in which a large section was devoted to analysis of the black criminal population in Philadelphia (Du Bois, 1899).
Du Bois (1899) sets forth three significant parts to his criminological theory. The first major part is that Negro crime is caused by the strain of the 'social revolution' experienced by black Americans as they began to adapt to their new found freedom and position in the nation. This theory is very similar to Durkheim's (1893) Anomie theory, but applied specifically to the newly freed Negro. This similarity is particularly interesting since Du Bois could not have read Durkheim's theory prior to publishing his own work. Du Bois (1900a, p. 3) credits emancipation with causing the boom in crime in the Negro population. He explains "the appearance of crime among the Southern Negroes is a symptom of wrong social conditions- of a stress of life greater than a large part of the community can bear"(Du Bois, 1901b, p. 745). He separates out the strains on southern Negroes from those on northern Negroes because the problems of city life were very different from those of the rural sharecropper.
Du Bois' (1904a) theory's second major part is that Negro crime declined as the American Negro population moved towards status. This idea, referred to later as stratification, is strikingly similar to Merton's (1968) structure-strain theory of deviance. In The Philadelphia Negro and later statistical studies, Du Bois found direct correlations between level of employment, level of education and criminal activity.
The final part of the theory is that the Talented Tenth or the 'exceptional men' of the black race would be the ones to lead the race and save it from its criminal problems (Du Bois, 1903, p. 33). Du Bois sees the evolution of a class system within black American society as necessary to carry out the improvements necessary to reduce crime in the black population (Du Bois, 1903). He sets forth a number of solutions to crime that this Talented Tenth must endeavor to enact (Du Bois, 1903, p. 2). Du Bois postulated early in his career that Negro crime was caused by the strain of the 'social revolution' experienced by black Americans as they began to adapt to their new found freedom and position in the nation (1899). He is perhaps the first criminologist to combine historical fact with social change, and use the combination to postulate his theories. He credited the crime increase after the civil war to "increased complexity of life," competition for jobs in industry, and the mass exodus from the farmland and immigration to the cities (Du Bois, 1899). Du Bois (1899, p. 64) states in The Philadelphia Negro:
"Naturally then, if men are suddenly transported from one environment to another, the result is lack of harmony with the new conditions; lack of harmony with the new physical surroundings leading to disease and death or modification of physique; lack of harmony with social surroundings leading to crime."
Du Bois was the most prominent intellectual leader and political activist on behalf of African Americans in the first half of the twentieth century. A contemporary of Booker T. Washington, the two carried on a dialogue about segregation and political disenfranchisement. He was labeled "The Father of Pan-Africanism."
In 1905, Du Bois along with Minnesota attorney Fred L. McGhee and others helped to found the Niagara Movement with William Monroe Trotter but their alliance was short-lived as they had a dispute over whether or not white people should be included in the organization and in the struggle for Civil Rights. Du Bois felt that they should, and with a group of like-minded supporters, he helped found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909.
In 1910, he left his teaching post at Atlanta University to work as publications director at the NAACP full-time. He wrote weekly columns in many newspapers, including the Chicago Defender, the Pittsburgh Courier and the New York Amsterdam News, three African-American newspapers, and also the Hearst-owned San Francisco Chronicle.
For 25 years, Du Bois worked as Editor-in-Chief of the NAACP publication, The Crisis, which then included the subtitle A Record of the Darker Races. He commented freely and widely on current events and set the agenda for the fledgling NAACP. Its circulation soared from 1,000 in 1910 to more than 100,000 by 1920.
Du Bois was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, a fraternity with a civil rights focus, and the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African Americans.
Civil rights activism
In 1909, W. E. B. Du Bois addressed the American Historical Association (AHA). According to David Levering Lewis, "His would be the first and last appearance of an African American on the program until 1940."
American Historical Association
Du Bois became impressed by the growing strength of Imperial Japan following the Japanese victory in the Russo-Japanese War. Du Bois saw the victory of Japan over Tsarist Russia as an example of "colored pride". According to historian David Levering Lewis, Du Bois became a willing part of Japan's so-called "Negro Propaganda Operations" run by Japanese academic and Imperial Agent Hikida Yasuichi.
Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany
Du Bois was investigated by the FBI, who claimed in May of 1942 that "[h]is writing indicates him to be a socialist," and that he "has been called a Communist and at the same time criticized by the Communist Party." century approach his stature."
Du Bois was chairman of the Peace Information Center at the start of the Korean War. He was among the signers of the Stockholm Peace Pledge, which opposed the use of nuclear weapons. In 1950, he ran for the U.S. Senate on the American Labor Party ticket in New York and received 4% of the vote. He was indicted in the United States under the Foreign Agents Registration Act and acquitted for lack of evidence. W. E. B. Du Bois became disillusioned with both black capitalism and racism in the United States. In 1959, Du Bois received the Lenin Peace Prize. In 1961, at the age of 93, he joined the Communist Party USA.
Du Bois was invited to Ghana in 1961 by President Kwame Nkrumah to direct the Encyclopedia Africana, a government production, and a long-held dream of his. When, in 1963, he was refused a new U.S. passport, he and his wife, Shirley Graham Du Bois, became citizens of Ghana, making them dual citizens of Ghana and the United States. Du Bois' health had declined in 1962, and on August 27, 1963, he died in Accra, Ghana at the age of ninety-five, one day before Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.
Du Bois' name is sometimes misspelled "DuBois," "du Bois," or "duBois;" the correct spelling separates the two syllables and capitalizes each.
Although the name is of French origin, Du Bois himself pronounced it [dʊˈboɪz] instead of the French [dyˈbwɑ].
Pronunciation and spelling of Du Bois
Black Reconstruction in America, 1860-1880 by W. E. Burghardt Du Bois , with introduction by Du Bois biographer David Levering Lewis. 768 pages. (Free Press: 1995 reissued from 1935 original) ISBN 0684856573. This is the longest work by Du Bois.
The Suppression of the African Slave Trade to the United States of America: 1638–1870 PhD dissertation, 1896, (Harvard Historical Studies, Longmans, Green, and Co.: New York) Full Text
The Study of the Negro Problems (1898)
The Philadelphia Negro (1899)
The Negro in Business (1899)
The Evolution of Negro Leadership. The Dial, 31 (July 16, 1901).
 (1999) The Souls of Black Folk. ISBN 0-393-97393-X.
The Talented Tenth, second chapter of The Negro Problem, a collection of articles by African Americans (September 1903).
Voice of the Negro II (September 1905)
John Brown: A Biography (1909)
Efforts for Social Betterment among Negro Americans (1909)
Atlanta University's Studies of the Negro Problem (1897-1910)
The Quest of the Silver Fleece 1911
The Negro (1915)
The Gift of Black Folk (1924)
Dark Princess: A Romance (1928)
Africa, its Geography, People and Products (1930)
Africa: Its Place in Modern History (1930)
Black Reconstruction: An Essay toward a History of the Part which Black Folk Played in the Attempt to Reconstruct Democracy in America, 1860-1880 (1935)
What the Negro has Done for the United States and Texas (1936)
Black Folk, Then and Now (1939)
Dusk of Dawn: An Essay Toward an Autobiography of a Race Concept (1940)
Color and Democracy: Colonies and Peace (1945)
The Encyclopedia of the Negro (1946)
The World and Africa (1946)
Peace is Dangerous (1951)
I take my stand for Peace (1951)
In Battle for Peace (1952)
The Black Flame: A Trilogy
The Ordeal of Mansart (1957)
Mansart Builds a School (1959)
Africa in Battle Against Colonialism, Racialism, Imperialism (1960)
Worlds of Color (1961)
An ABC of Color: Selections from Over a Half Century of the Writings of W. E. B. Du Bois (1963)
The World and Africa, An Inquiry into the Part Which Africa has Played in World History (1965)
The Autobiography of W.E. Burghardt Du Bois (International publishers, 1968) Books
The American Negro Academy Occasional Papers, 1897, No. 2 "The Conservation Of Races" full text Articles
Writings: The Suppression of the African Slave-Trade, The Souls of Black Folk, Dusk of Dawn (Nathan I. Huggins, ed.) (Library of America, 1986) ISBN 978-0-94045033-2 Published as
David Levering Lewis W. E. B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race, 1868-1919 (Owl Books 1994). Winner of the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for Biography and winner also of the 1994 Bancroft Prize and the Francis Parkman Prize for historical research and writing.
David Levering Lewis W. E. B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century 1919-1963 (Owl Books 2001). Covers the second half of the life of W. E. B. Du Bois, charting 44 years of the culture and politics of race in the United States. Winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Biography  Bibliography
In 1992, the United States honored W. E. B. Du Bois with his portrait on a postage stamp.
On October 5, 1994, the main library at the University of Massachusetts Amherst was named after him.
(New York: Basic-Civitas, 1999, Hardcover, 2144 pp. ISBN 0-465-00071-1) was inspired by and dedicated to W. E. B. Du Bois by its editors, Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, Jr..