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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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4,187592,141 (4.18)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 59 (next | show all)
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 |
Recent books on anti-racism are great for their currentness, their awareness of the times, and their ability to help apply practical ways to effect change. But to truly learn about the depths of racism without experiencing it yourself, also means to learn about the history of racism and the people who helped shape that history. W.E.B Du Bois was a sociologist, civil rights activist, and author in the late 19th, early 20th century. He was also adamantly opposed to another prominent Black leader, Booker T. Washington.
Du Bois opposed the Atlanta Compromise, an agreement crafted by Booker T. Washington, that said Southern black people would work and submit to white rule in order to receive basic economic opportunities. The Souls of Black Folk is Du Bois brilliant collection of essays that rebuke that compromise. Du Bois played a major role in developing a strategy that dominated most of the black protests in 20th century America. In this book, he so eloquently states that it is beneath any human to beg and compromise for rights that inherently belong to them as human beings. He stood up to Booker T. Washington, who at the time was the most prominent black leader in America, stating Washington was actually perpetuating black oppression.
Review from: The Write of Your Life. Books on race relations in America.
  stlukeschurch | Mar 7, 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 |
Du Bois densely eloquent, compelling, and evocative essays deliver an education into the history of the most terrifying and hideous centuries
in the United States of America. It will inspire action to change our professed Democracy! Even more after the horror of January 6, 2021.

The collection would have rated 5 stars if Du Bois had not revealed his own racial prejudice by repeatedly singling out "Russian Jews"
and their behavior from the rest of "Whites." ( )
  m.belljackson | Jan 17, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 59 (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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