In my second year of university I learnt about Du Bois and for that reason alone I loved that module and have since based my dissertation research on some of his ideas. Since its October; black history month, I thought, why not shed light on a great man. Here goes.
Du Bois was born in Massachusetts where he was referred to as “mulatto” (a derogatory term used to describe a person of mixed white and black ancestry). He attended a predominantly white school where he was enthusiastically supported by his white teachers. He then when on to Fisk University where he encountered Jim Crow Laws for the first time and began his research on the deep troubles of American racism. After which he was the first black man to obtain a PhD from the prestigious Harvard University.
Soon after graduating he published his landmark study, The Philadelphia Negro in which he coined the phrase “the talented tenth” – a term to describe the likelihood of one in ten black men becoming leaders of their race.
In 1903, he published his seminal work, The Souls of Black Folk, a collection of 14 essays. In the years following, he adamantly opposed the idea of biological white superiority and vocally supported women’s rights.
In 1909, he co-founded the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) and served as the editor of the association’s monthly magazine, The Crisis.
Du Bois was a proponent of Pan Africanism and helped organize several Pan African Congresses to free African colonies from European powers. He died on August 27, 1963 at the age of 95 in Accra, Ghana, while working on an encyclopaedia of the African Diaspora.
If this man isn’t an example that your skin colour can’t hold you back, then I don’t know what is. Stop using it as an excuse and reach your full potential.