All their dazzling opportunities, were theirs, not mine…. With other black boys the strife was not so fiercely sunny…. Why did God make me an outcast and a stranger in my own house? The shades of the prison-house closed round about us all: walls strait and stubborn to the whitest, but relentlessly narrow, tall, and unscalable to sons of night who must plod darkly on in resignation, or beat unavailing palms against the stone, or steadily, half hopelessly, watch the streak of blue above.
-Du Bois, Of Our Spiritual Strivings, 1903
Growing up Du Bois often played with the white kids in school, and he strived to be recognized for being more knowledgeable in all aspects than they were, however, he came to realize that it would never be possible. Through interactions with other black boys Du Bois was made aware of his limitations, nevertheless, he, like many black people fought to be optimistic in finding ways to take these opportunities that were so rightfully theirs. However, the question emerged of how could a person strive to be prosperous and have everything that the race he so greatly detest has, without being considered dishonorable by his own people? Many African Americans are brainwashed and fall under the misconception that having an education, a career, or even speaking proper, falls into the category of acting white. This ideology places a lot of stress on many successful black people, who growing up faced bullying and were described as a disgrace to their own race.
In 1899, Du Bois published one of the most popular sociological study on the African American community called The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study which helped set a precedent for his future writings. In the study, Du Bois created a new term called "the talented tenth,” the idea that 1 out of every 10 African Americans had the potential to becoming leader. This helped shift many people’s mentality, including blacks, on the role of African Americans in American society. This ideology, accepted widely throughout the north, encouraged blacks to continue their education, write and express themselves clearly, and personally get involved in social change. Du Bois recognized the inequality based off race and thought that classical education was the only way to close that
The August 1897 issue of the Atlantic Monthly introduced Du Bois to a national audience when it published his article "The Striving of the Negro People”. He begins this article with what he calls “the unasked question” he continually encountered: “How does it feel to be a problem?” Meaning: how does it feel to be black in America after the end of the
W.E.B Du Bois “The souls of Black Folks” touches on issues of the black community and being considered a “problem”. African Americans are not only considered a problem in today’s world, but also in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. W. E. B Du Bois once said "the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line." (p. 13) Being a part of the black scholar community one has to understand the difference between complexity of blackness and black genius. As a member of the black community one should not feel as though we are the problem, but the solution to an issue.
W.E.B. Du Bois (1968-1963) was a huge contributor to sociology through the eyes and experience of an African-American scholar (Vissing, 2011). Du Bois was an author, activist and student of Black sociology. In his 1897 article, Strivings of the Negro People”, Du Bois introduced the term “double-consciousness”, a concept I believe to be just as relevant in today’s African-American communities. Double consciousness refers to what Du Bois considered an absence of “true self consciousness” (Du Bois, 1897) amongst Africans in America. In place of that absence, lies a dual awareness- awareness of one’s self combined with an awareness
Du Bois began his speech by enumerating the types of unfair treatment African Americans had been receiving for centuries, and urged something be done about these injustices. In order to achieve this, the first thing he did was evoke feelings of guilt in his audience by questioning their true American values and the foundation this country was built on, by stating that “The battle we wage is not for ourselves alone but for all true Americans. It is a fight for ideals, lest this, our common fatherland, false to its founding…” (Du Bois). His choice of words set a faintly patriotic tone, as he spoke in hopes of enlightening the American people who had gone blind to the fact that this country had “become in truth the land of the thief and the home of the slave” (Du Bois). The United States is a country built on the pride of its foundation, and Du Bois was well aware of this. He knew that being called an American was truly an honor to each of its citizens. He took this and used it to his advantage, by being blatantly honest, Du Bois called out these white citizens for their un-American treatment towards the African American race, making them truly question their actions. Without provoking feeling of guilt it would have been extremely difficult for Du Bois to make his audience realize just how wrong their actions have been.
Du Bois relates his experiences as a schoolteacher in rural Tennessee, and then he turns his attention to a critique of American materialism in the rising city of Atlanta where the single-minded attention to gaining wealth threatens to replace all other considerations. In terms of education, African Americans should not be taught merely to earn money. Rather, Du Bois argues there should be a balance between the "standards of lower training" and the "standards of human culture and lofty ideals of life." In effect, the African American college should train the "Talented Tenth" who can in turn contribute to lower education and also act as liaisons in improving race relations.
W.E.B. Du Bois can be most simply characterized with the “who” element of the question of inequality. Much of his sociological and political writings concern the inclusion and consideration of African Americans and others of African and non-European descent in studies and discussions of the social world. More specifically, he is concerned with acknowledging differences in the experience and conditions of Whites versus non-Whites.
In this essay the author argued the strategy employed by Mr. Booker T. Washington during a period in history where race relations were hyper sensitive. Mr. Washington felt that the only chance for the survival and development of the Negro race was to submit to the white man by giving up three critical rights of American society; those were, the right to vote, civil rights, and access to higher education. In doing so, he calculated that if black people focused on industrial education, wealth accumulation, and conciliation of the South, they’d stand a better chance of advancing as a race. As Du Bois argued,” In other periods of intensified prejudice all the Negro's tendency to self-assertion has been called
For centuries, African Americans lived without any consideration in the American society. Under the white supremacy, black people had no right and were considered as an inferior race or second-class citizens. Despite the misery and the abuses, they suffered on some white hands, the black community dreamed with acquiring equality and stop being seen as people without the capacity of achieving great thinks. For this propose, some well-educated black people among which were Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois, who had a profound influence on the African American Community addressed ways to end with class and racial inequality. However, Du Bois and Washington addressed the matter of class and racial injustice in a considerable opposite way. Encouraging blacks to take distinctives actions.
The life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination… the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land (qtd. in W.T.L. 235).
DuBois was considered to be the inspiration for the literary movement known as the “Harlem Renaissance.” Du Bois also believed that if a small group of young black Americans could stay and retain the information in college educations, then they could be leaders of the race and encourage other black Americans to do the same and to reach a higher level of education. Contrary to Booker T. Washington. W.E.B. Du Bois assumed that if you wanted to achieve something and be good at it, you have to just got for it without turning back. Altered from Booker T. Washington, Du Bois understood that not all black men could go to college, but he believed that the ones that could, should, and should be able to succeed. There were six black institutions, and they were “Atlanta, Fisk, Howard, Shaw, Wilberforce, and Leland, and in those six institutes, only seven hundred and fifty were black college students.” Du Bois take on a trade school was different then Washington’s take on a trade school. Du Bois had said that “trade schools cannot teach people skills and how to fund themselves while keeping industries on a commercial basis.” W.E.B. Du Bois had said that he thinks that there should be social change, and that this could happen if there was a small group of college educated blacks that would be called “the Talented Tenth.” With this Du Bois says: "The Negro Race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men. The problem of education then, among Negroes, must first of all deal with the "Talented Tenth." It is the problem of developing the best of this race that they may guide the Mass away from the contamination and death of the worst."
Expectations were met with severe disappointment for most blacks in America following the Civil War. Rather than gifting African-Americans with the freedom they dreamt about and fought hard for, the Emancipation led to an achievement of an ambiguous status in society, which created a larger problem of race that W.E.B Du Bois discusses in The Souls of Black Folk. In order to introduce this problem, Du Bois employs the use of a metaphor that compares the post-war life of Blacks in America to being stuck within a Veil as most held distorted images of self and self-worth. His use of the Veil metaphor emphasizes the severity of the “Negro Problem” in an attempt to convince white Americans that, in order for real progress of American industry and culture to take place, the problem must be solved.
Du Bois however could not remain silenced because he felt the need to aware others of the flaws within Washington's plan. In his doctrine, Washington focused on industrial education rather than higher education for African Americans. According to Washington, by doing this African Americans would win the respect of whites since they could provide something that the whites highly demanded. Du Bois, on the other hand, points out that by having the Negro youth concentrate on industrial education, it deprived those with the possibility of becoming great leaders the proper education needed to fulfill their destiny. It was imperative to provide this type of education to the Negro youth because without educated leaders there would not be anyone to properly fight for the rights of future African American generations. Aside from asking African Americans to give up higher education, Washington also asked that they surrender their political and civil rights. He urged them to accept discrimination in hopes of becoming integrated into the white communities. This belief of African American assimilation lead to "the disfranchisement of the Negro" and established "a distinct status of civil inferiority for the Negro." Du Bois criticized Washington for advocating the submission and inferiority of American Negroes instead of fighting for their
African Americans during the 1900s lived lives full of uncertainty. They were no longer slaves, but still looked upon by many as inferior to the white race. However in this period of tension, there were men who sought to bring their race to new heights. One of these men was W.E.B Du Bois. Few have influenced the lives of African Americans in such a way as W.E.B Du Bois. The vision he had for African Americans was one that many found great hope in. He sought for the day that his race for finally have civil equality in every aspect of life.
The turn-of-the-century W.E.B Du Bois wrote his seminal text The Souls of Black Folk in response to what was then called the 'Negro Problem.' The 'Negro Problem' was the question of whether African-Americans should be treated as equal within the firmament of American society and whether integration or separate but equal were more viable doctrines. Du Bois wrote against such advocates of acceptance like Booker T. Washington, and instead demanded parity for his people in terms of opportunities. In the first essay of Du Bois' book entitled "Our Spiritual Strivings," Du Bois writes of his frustrations as a young, African-American child who was intelligent and thoughtful yet all too well aware of how his race would limit his ability to pursue his studies although he