William Edward Burghardt Dubois And The Harlem Renaissance

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Labeled as a radical, William Edward Burghardt DuBois had a solid idea for African American progression. “Described variously as the ‘most outspoken civil rights activist in America,’ and ‘the undisputed intellectual leader of a new generation of African- Americans’, Du Bois was considered the inspiration for the literary movement known as the Harlem Renaissance” (Reuben). Known as the "Talented Tenth", in his essay he mentions the Negro race, like all races, being saved by its exceptional men. Du Bois believed that if a small group of black persons attained college educations they would be leaders of the race and encourage the rest to do the same and reach a higher level of education. As a co-founder of the NAACP and the long-time editor of its magazine The Crisis, Du Bois nurtured and promoted many young and talented African-Americans (Reuben). Underlying his controversial notion of "the talented tenth," was his belief that true integration will happen when selected blacks excel in the literature and the fine arts. Du Bois stated, "If this be true—and who can deny it—three tasks lay before me, first to show from the past that the Talented Tenth as they have risen among American Negroes have been worthy of leadership, secondly, to show how these men may be educated and developed, and thirdly, to show their relation to the Negro problem" (Chesnutt et al. 34). Contrary to Booker T. Washington, Du Bois believed that if you wanted something accomplished you went right at it.

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