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Brand: W E B Du Bois
Edition: Revised ed.
Feature: The Souls of Black Folk
Item Dimensions: Array
Label: Yale University Press
Manufacturer: Yale University Press
MPN: 18 b/w illus.
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 240
Publication Date: 2015-06-30
Publisher: Yale University Press
Studio: Yale University Press
• The Souls of Black Folk
This collection of essays by scholar-activist W. E. B. Du Bois is a masterpiece in the African American canon. Du Bois, arguably the most influential African American leader of the early twentieth century, offers insightful commentary on black history, racism, and the struggles of black Americans following emancipation. In his groundbreaking work, the author presciently writes that “the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line,” and offers powerful arguments for the absolute necessity of moral, social, political, and economic equality. These essays on the black experience in America range from sociological studies of the African American community to illuminating discourses on religion and “Negro music,” and remain essential reading in our so-called “post-racial age.” A new introduction by Jonathan Scott Holloway explores Du Bois’s signature accomplishments while helping readers to better understand his writings in the context of his time as well as ours.
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (1868-1963) is the greatest of African American intellectuals--a sociologist, historian, novelist, and activist whose astounding career spanned the nation's history from Reconstruction to the civil rights movement. Born in Massachusetts and educated at Fisk, Harvard, and the University of Berlin, Du Bois penned his epochal masterpiece, The Souls of Black Folk, in 1903. It remains his most studied and popular work; its insights into Negro life at the turn of the 20th century still ring true.
With a dash of the Victorian and Enlightenment influences that peppered his impassioned yet formal prose, the book's largely autobiographical chapters take the reader through the momentous and moody maze of Afro-American life after the Emancipation Proclamation: from poverty, the neoslavery of the sharecropper, illiteracy, miseducation, and lynching, to the heights of humanity reached by the spiritual "sorrow songs" that birthed gospel and the blues. The most memorable passages are contained in "On Booker T. Washington and Others," where Du Bois criticizes his famous contemporary's rejection of higher education and accommodationist stance toward white racism: "Mr. Washington's programme practically accepts the alleged inferiority of the Negro races," he writes, further complaining that Washington's thinking "withdraws many of the high demands of Negroes as men and American citizens." The capstone of The Souls of Black Folk, though, is Du Bois' haunting, eloquent description of the concept of the black psyche's "double consciousness," which he described as "a peculiar sensation.... One ever feels this twoness--an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder." Thanks to W.E.B. Du Bois' commitment and foresight--and the intellectual excellence expressed in this timeless literary gem--black Americans can today look in the mirror and rejoice in their beautiful black, brown, and beige reflections. --Eugene Holley Jr.
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