The men and women who shaped our world—in their own words.
The Wisdom Library invites you on a journey through the lives and works of the world’s greatest thinkers and leaders. Compiled by scholars, this series presents excerpts from the most important and revealing writings of the most remarkable minds of all time.
THE WISDOM OF W.E.B. DU BOIS
“Throughout history, the powers of single blacks flash here and there like falling stars, and die sometimes before the world has rightly gauged their brightness.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote of W.E.B. Du Bois, “History cannot ignore [him] because history has to reflect truth, and Dr. Du Bois was a tireless explorer and a gifted discoverer of social truths. His singular greatness lay in his quest for truth about his own people.” Du Bois was the first African-American to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard (1896). A brilliant writer and speaker, he was the outstanding African-American intellectual of his time. His lifelong active struggle for racial equality and civil rights resulted in the founding of both the Niagara Movement and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). As editor of the NAACP’s magazine, The Crisis, Du Bois presented the literary genius of many of the Harlem Renaissance’s most compelling voices; and his own works—the sociological study The Philadelphia Negro and his famous 1903 treatise, The Souls of Black Folk—eloquently delineated the African-American struggle for identity in America. During his lifetime, Du Bois was a powerful force in academia, literature, civil rights, and the peace movement. Using excerpts from his many books as well as from articles, essays, poems, letters, and speeches, The Wisdom of W.E.B. Du Bois provides a telling portrait of the man and his groundbreaking ideas. It is a tribute to a voice that would not be silenced and to a pioneer who, in his passion for justice movingly declared, “the cost of liberty is less than the price of repression.”