DuBois: Protagonist of Afro-American Protest"
(63-83) Elliott Rudwick
WEB DuBois was the most important black protest
spokesman of the first half of the 20th century:
- criticized white
racist social institutions
- argued that change
would not come until blacks demanded change
- although his political
positions changed over the years, DuBois is
best remembered as promoter of integration who demanded that blacks be
given the opportunity to participate fully in the larger American
- He believed that
integration would be achived by an elite
vanguard of college educated professionals, "the Talented
- These achievers would
help bridge the psychological divide within Negro consciousness itself:
ever feels his 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. The
history of the American Negro is the history of this strife-- this longing to
attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and
truer self. In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be
lost.... He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro
and an American, without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without
having the doors of opportunity closed roughly in his face. (The Souls of
Extraordinary Academic Career:
- Graduated from Fisk
University (at age 20) and then was the 1st black to earn a PHd from Harvard University (1895).
- He wrote the first in
depth study of a urban black community in The
Philadelphia Negro (1899) and is credited with the invention of modern
- He believed that
social science would teach American leaders how to solve the problem of
First Prominence: In Opposition to Booker Washington
Washington sought, in the midst of the lynchings,
disenfranchisement, and segregation, the advancement of black folk through
the tactics of accommodation: seeking good will of powerful whites, not
protesting discrimination, pursuing economic advancement through industrial
education (technical schools) and the accumulation of property.
of Black Folk
- Only militant
protest and agitation in the pursuit of civil rights will advance the
condition of black people.
- Condoning racism
only perpetuates it among whites and makes blacks think that they
themselves are to blame for their oppression and poverty.
- Social justice will
never be achieved by flattering white racists, tossing away
constitutional rights, and belittling the self.
- What was needed instead was clamorous protest and an
aggressive legal campaign to demand constitutional rights and end
The Niagara Movement (1905)
- not only a political
manifesto for the civil rights movement but
an attempt to wrest support away from Booker Washington's Tuskegee Machine
- denouncing the separate
but equal legal doctrine (Plessy v. Fergusen) underpinning segregation
- denouncing the
injustice of Jim Crow segregation and disenfranchisement
gradualist/ incrementalist positions
- Declaration of Principles
Foundation of NAACP (1908)
- An inter-racial
protest organization dedicated to publicizing injustices perpetrated
against blacks to a national audience, pursuing litigation in courts,
and lobbying the legislature.
- DuBois founds The Crisis:
the NAACP's official organ.
- With Booker
Washington's death in 1915, the NAACP became the leading black protest
organization in the country.
- Criticized on the
left by the socialist A. Philip Randolph and on the right by the black nationalist Marcus Garvey.
Embrace of Marxism (1930's and 40's)