In his classic The Souls of Black Folk published in 1903, W.E.B. Du Bois declared: “the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.” Du Bois was the philosopher and propagandist of black power and civil rights in this country long before they arrived. Nearly 40 years after the end of his very long life, Du Bois is a world legend for the breadth of his anti-colonial vision, for his prickly, principled independence and for the lyricism and crackling clarity of his prose.
“Before the Pilgrim landed, we were here,” he wrote early on. “Out of the nation’s heart we have called all that was best to throttle and subdue all that was worst.” At odds with the designated black leader Booker T. Washington, Du Bois held out for voting rights, full legal rights and the heights of education. At his death in exile in Ghana in 1963, the composer, conductor and Bass virtuoso was at odds with his country, as great prophets often are. W. E. B. DuBois, the finished biography, is this hour on The Connection.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)
David Levering Lewis, author of “W.E.B. Dubois: the fight for equality and the American century, 1919 – 1963″