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W. E. B. Du Bois
- The Life and Legacy of Early 20th Century America’s Most Famous Civil Rights Activist
- Lu par : Dan Gallagher
- Durée : 1 h et 25 min
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Despite a Union victory and Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, unthinkable in the previous century, a new form of suppression and violence descended on the African-American population. “Reconstruction” is employed as a generic term for the period that followed the American Civil War. Suggesting a successful rejuvenation of a war-ravaged South, it lamentably gave way to a resurrection of the same White ruling class and slave-owner mentality, protecting the status quo in the legislatures and courts. With the distortion of Reconstruction’s intent came a body of racial policy and a tacitly understood social code that barred the pre-war slave class from personal freedom and opportunity, at the risk of great personal violence for anyone who objected. The arduous task of overthrowing Jim Crow codes and legislation marked one of the first strides toward the modern struggle for ethnic equality in American society and required nearly a century of struggle.
That effort spawned a multitude of heroic African-American activists, but it is remembered in large part for the work of two iconic African-American men of stature. Much like their later counterparts, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, the debate between gradual integration through temporary accommodation and overtly insistent activism was led by Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois. Through the last years of the 19th century, Washington’s gentler approach of enhancing Black prospects through vocational education, largely accomplished with White permission and funds, seemed the popular choice. His legacy can be sensed in King’s subsequent willingness to extend an olive branch to White Americans in a sense of unity, although Washington’s propensity for accommodation held no place in King’s ministry.
Ultimately, however, the vision that oversaw the creation of the Tuskegee Institute faded in the early 20th century as Black intellectualism and stiffening resolve came to the fore. This side’s greatest proponent, William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, still stands among the greatest and most controversial minds of any Black leader in his country. The first African-American to receive a doctorate from Harvard University, Du Bois rose to become one of the most important social thinkers of his time in a 70-year career of combined scholarship, teaching, and activism. His lifelong efforts were devoted to the immediate acceptance of African-Americans as full citizens in good standing, and to the universal dismissal of White superiority. A co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Du Bois was involved with virtually every equality-oriented organization of note in the early and mid-20th century, and his legacy can be found in a long line of extraordinary Black scholars extending to the present day.
Although Du Bois’ name is still (and somewhat inexplicably) less well-known than that of Washington, his prolific writings serve as a bedrock to the modern social engines at work in the pursuit of racial equality in America. In his life and experience of nearly a century, he spanned the administrations of Andrew Johnson and Lyndon Baines Johnson, dying only one day before King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
W. E. B. Du Bois: The Life and Legacy of Early 20th Century America’s Most Famous Civil Rights Activist chronicles the life and work that made him one of America’s most influential men.
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a good work to understand this important historical figure who gave so much to all.