The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B Dubois Essay

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The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B Dubois

The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B Dubois is a influential work in African American literature and is an American classic. In this book Dubois proposes that "the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line." His concepts of life behind the veil of race and the resulting "double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others," have become touchstones for thinking about race in America. In addition to these lasting concepts, Souls offers an evaluation of the progress of the races and the possibilities for future progress as the nation entered the twentieth century.

" The Souls of Black Folk", is a collection of autobiographical and
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Washington's acceptance of segregation and his emphasis on material progress represent an "old attitude of adjustment and submission." Du Bois asserts that this policy has damaged African Americans by contributing to the loss of the vote, the loss of civil status, and the loss of aid for institutions of higher education. Du Bois insists that "the right to vote," "civic equality," and "the education of youth according to ability" are essential for African American progress.

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.

Du Bois returns to an examination of rural African American life with a presentation of Dougherty County, Georgia as representative of life in the Southern Black Belt. He presents the history and current conditions of the county. Cotton is still the life-blood of the Black Belt
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