William Edward Burghart or W E B Du Bois is an eminent figure of the late 18th and 19th centuries. He is remembered till today as a sociologist, Pan-Africanist, educator, civil rights’ activist, historian, writer, poet and an editor or great repute.
Fact 1 His Early Life
William Edward Burghardt was born on 23rd February, 1868 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. He descended from African, French and Dutch lineage for which he got this name. He was one of the 25 to 50 black people who lived in Great Barrington among the 5,000 whites living there. Hence the attitudes of the whites towards them were quite obviously blatant as racism was prevalent during this time. This affected him very much and he became depressed and sullen as he grew older as opposed to his cheerful and friendly nature.
Fact 2 His Education
Du Bois was a gifted child. With his incomparable intellect he did extremely well during his high school days that earned him a scholarship to study in Fisk University in Tennessee which was a black institution. He attended Harvard to receive his BA degree and also earned his MA degree from Harwavd University. Studying in Europe was a dream come true for him and he went to University of Berlin for further studies. His speech on the President of the Confederacy, David Jefferson created a stir and he received scholarly honors for it that drew the attention of eminent people. He studied in Berlin with some of the greatest people of Germany who were proficient in Economics, Philosophy and Sociology. He was the first black of African descent to receive the Ph.D honor from Harvard University in 1895.
As Martin Luther King Jr. once remarked that Du Bois was the tireless explorer who discovered social truths. His search for truth about his own people was a great achievement for him.
Fact 3 His works
In 1900, Du Bois became the leader of the first Pan-African Conference in London. It was a moment of great pride for all Africans. He retained his position and led four Pan-African Congresses later held from 1919 to 1927. He wrote 21 books during his lifetime and edited 15 more and published 100 essays and articles. Du Bois published his own seminal work in 1903 which was a collection of 14 essays entitled The Souls of Black Folk and The Philadelphia Negro. His works on economics, race and society were published in various journals like The Independent, Nation, Harper’s Weekly, The Outlook and many others. He was engrossed in the study of anthropology, sociology, history and philosophical studies of Blacks in America with the hope to eradicate racism from America.
Fact 4 His later years
The main aim of Du Bois was to rid America of racism and achieve freedom for the blacks. He became a controversial social activist. During the Atlanta Conferences he gathered information of the living conditions of the African Americans and analyzed scientifically to bring about changes in the lives of his men. He was one of the founders of the Niagara Movement established in 1903. The movement was so named as a symbol of the great changes that were ushering in with regards to racism and segregation. He continued to challenge imperialism in Africa and being the Chairman of the Peace Information Center, he demanded that atomic weapons should be barred and considered as unlawful.
Fact 5 His last days
He moved to Ghana where he became an official member of the Communist Party and a citizen of Ghana. Du Bois passed away on the 27th of August, 1963 in Accra Ghana on the eve of the March on Washington.