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The Souls of Black Folk (1903)

by W. E. B. Du Bois

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4,438612,072 (4.21)193
"The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line." Thus speaks W.E.B. Du Bois in "The Souls Of Black Folk," one of the most prophetic and influental works in American literature. In this eloquent collection of essays, first published in 1903, Du Bois dares as no one has before to describe the magnitude of American racism and demand an end to it. He draws on his own life for illustration, from his early experiences teaching in the hills of Tennessee to the death of his infant son and his historic break with the conciliatory position of Booker T. Washington. Far ahead of its time, "The Souls Of Black Folk" both anticipated and inspired much of the black conciousness and activism of the 1960's and is a classic in the literature of civil rights. The elegance of DuBois's prose and the passion of his message are as crucial today as they were upon the book's first publication.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
A beautiful collection of essays about the Black experience in America. The topics cover reconstruction, Jim Crow, politics, the Black church, lynching, and spiritual singing. There is much to digest and meditate upon in this book. De Bois prose is perfection. I didn't want it to end. ( )
  Juva | Mar 30, 2022 |
Du Bois weaves words together to create a pictorial masterpiece of literature. The sentences are so gorgeous that you want to read them out loud just to experience the pleasure of the sound and the speaking of them. I was absolutely blind-sided by their beauty because, in our internet age, that talent is often overlooked in favor of sharp, short sentences.

His words are often prophetic ("I insist that the question of the future is how best to keep these millions from brooding over the wrongs of the past and the difficulties of the present, so that all their energies may be bent toward a cheerful striving and cooperation with their white neighbors toward a larger, juster, and fuller future"*), heartrending (his chapters on the death of his son and the racism he observed and lived with), and thought-provoking (his chapters on education... have we forgotten its purpose?).

I highly recommend this book. It also gives you a good starting point into historical issues that may or may not be overlooked in our simplified history classes.

Also, fun fact, he is featured several times in [b:Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America's Most Powerful Mobster|33898873|Invisible The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America's Most Powerful Mobster|Stephen L. Carter|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1532468031l/33898873._SX50_.jpg|54863805] which also is a book worth your time.

*Pg. 94 ( )
  OutOfTheBestBooks | Sep 24, 2021 |
Wow. These fourteen essays on race and race relations by writer, civil rights activist and scholar William Edward Burghardt (W.E.B) Du Bois (1868-1963), originally published in 1903; should be required reading in Donald Trump's USA, where ignorance is king--in a recent You Tube video, an unschooled man in a park berates a woman proudly wearing a Puerto Rico shirt, as a foreigner, even though that island has been a U.S. territory for over a century, and its citizens are United States citizens--and division and hatred queen. In these essays Du Bois, the first black man to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University, offers a history of the racial prejudice and hatred of the white man against the black, all because of his skin color (news flash! we can no more control the color of our skin than we can milk a bull, people), as well as solutions. A powerful book for which I thank La Tonya (who runs a GR forum for reading diversity) for recommending. ( )
  Jimbookbuff1963 | Jun 5, 2021 |
I picked up this book since Dubois is being extensively covered by Peter Adamson’s and Chike Jeffers’ Africana Philosophy podcast. He is undoubtedly an important US thinker, and it is well worth being acquainted with both him and his ideas.

I debated whether to give the book a 3 or 4 star. The description of the difficulties of African American life under “Jim Crow” is vivid and gives important insights into this period. It’s at its best when telling the stories of individuals. Unfortunately, those stories sometimes veer into over sentimentality. Dubois is no Toni Morrison (although apparently he was an influence on her and many other Black American writers).

Dubois has many interesting ideas, which he doesn’t spend enough time elaborating on in this book. He also is a man of his times, and he is influenced by contemporaneous ideas on “race character”, which often makes his thoughts sound quaint, or worse, even racist.

As for his bone to pick with Washington, which he spends a lot of time on in this book, listen to the podcast to get some alternative views and insights on these two men and their ideas (and a whole lot more besides).

Despite my giving it 3 stars, I still would recommend reading it ( )
  aront | Feb 22, 2021 |
This book looks at everything, things I've never thought about when it comes to around the time of the end of slavery of blacks in the US. It talks about all the issues. Just because it was illegal, didn't mean everything fell into a good place for anyone involved. It talks about black/white problems and problems between blacks and other blacks. It's worth reading for sure. ( )
  ToniFGMAMTC | Feb 17, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (45 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Du Bois, W. E. B.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Elbert, Monica M.Notessecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gardiner, RodneyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gibson, Donald B.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hare, NathanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kendi, Ibram X.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Poussaint, Alvin F.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Redding, SaundersIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (4)

"The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line." Thus speaks W.E.B. Du Bois in "The Souls Of Black Folk," one of the most prophetic and influental works in American literature. In this eloquent collection of essays, first published in 1903, Du Bois dares as no one has before to describe the magnitude of American racism and demand an end to it. He draws on his own life for illustration, from his early experiences teaching in the hills of Tennessee to the death of his infant son and his historic break with the conciliatory position of Booker T. Washington. Far ahead of its time, "The Souls Of Black Folk" both anticipated and inspired much of the black conciousness and activism of the 1960's and is a classic in the literature of civil rights. The elegance of DuBois's prose and the passion of his message are as crucial today as they were upon the book's first publication.

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