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African American Search For Identity: W.E.B. Du Bois

1115 words - 4 pages

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. He graduated from high school at age 16, as the valedictorian and only black in his graduating class. Du Bois received his bachelor's degree from Fisk, and won a scholarship to attend Harvard University. At Harvard, Du Bois received his second bachelor's degree. He earned his master's and his doctoral degree as well. As violence against blacks increased in the South, Du Bois followed reports about the reoccurrence and growing number of lynchings. He called each "racially motivated killing a scar upon his soul." Du Bois became a very influential African- American socially and politically. To briefly describe him; Du Bois was an educator, editor, writer, thinker, and leader. Among his many accomplishments remains one his books entitled The Souls of Black Folk.The Souls of Black Folk is a remarkable collection of essays written by William Edward Burghardt Du Bois. The Souls of Black Folk was published in 1903. Upon the book's release, criticism both negative and positive emerged. The Norton Critical Edition presents critics such as: William James, John Spencer Bassett, John Daniels, Dickeson D. Bruce, Jr., Robert Gooding -Williams, David Levering Lewis, Nellie McKay, Susan Mizruchi, Arnold Rampersad, Eric Sundquist and Shamoon Zamir offered reviews on The Souls of Black Folk. Criticism on this work appeared in various newspaper articles and in some books.Reviews and criticisms on The Souls of Black Folk took different approaches. Some summarize the book, some of the reviews analyze Du Bois approach and his ideals and others give an account on how the book was received. In David Levering Lewis's 1993 work, W. E. B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race, Lewis provided an overview of the initial reception of The Souls of Black Folk . Lewis offered the views of those who applauded the book as well as the views those who did not. Lewis also mentioned southern reviews of the book.In a black newspaper the Ohio Enterprise this command appeared in all upper-case letters: "SHOULD BE READ AND STUDIED BY EVERY PERSON, WHITE1T AND BLACK." (Lewis 222) Also in 1904 Casely Hayford, a British West African politician, asserted "This century would be likely to see the race problem solved with more books like Du Bois' s." On the other hand, the Nashville American reviewed the book as "indeed dangerous for the Negro to read." The New York Times printed an anonymous review by a white southener. This review stated that the book's flaw was"that its author was a sophisticated northerner with only a superficial understanding of southern black people and of the history of the South.Lewis, David Levering 1993 W. E. B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race. In The Souls of Black Folk, eds. Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Terri Hume Oliver.221-226 New York: W.W Norton and Company.Du Bois's personal agenda was simply to be able to smoke a cigar and drink a cup of tea with the white man in the south." (Lewis 223) Lewis's work...

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