REMEMBERING W.E.B. DU BOIS
FEBRUARY 23, 1868 – AUGUST 27, 1963
A TRIBUTE TO BLACK/ AFRICAN HISTORY MONTH
By Sainey Faye
“ There is in this world no such force as the force of a man determined
to rise.The human soul cannot be permanently chained.”
— W.E.B. DU BOIS
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was born in Great Barrington,
Massachusetts on February 23, 1868 almost three years after the American
civil war; that freed the African slaves. This great father of modern
Pan-Africanism is today being remembered for the great contributions and sacrifices he made for our people worldwide. In 1888 at age 20, he graduated from Fisk university with honors; and was offered a scholarship at Harvard university. Two years later , in 1890 he graduated from Harvard again with honors and a second degree; he was exposed to and learned more about the history of slavery and how it impacted and dehumanized his people – African people woridwide.
In 1895, Du Bois completed his studies; becoming the first African American to receive an advance degree (called Ph.D.) from Harvard. He was noted as one of the most highly educated African American of his day, but no white university would hire him. He ended up finding a job teaching at a small university called Wilberforce; in Ohio. His most and very important contributions to sociology was known as he developed his theory that racism was caused by ignorance. He wrote about sixteen books about his findings, and was a world reknown historian; beyond any doubt. Cheikh Anta Diop has given his works high marks and has great respect for his works.
To chronicle his works and contributions requires a lot of research and time, so it is only wise that a brief summary and time line be used to educate or inform people, about this great Pan-Africanist liberator and revolutionary. From 1900 until he passed away in Ghana , in 1963; he was constantly in the forefront of the struggle to emancipate us from bondage.
He protested, organized,agitated, educated , and rallied the progressive
forces against any and all injustices; not only in America but worldwide,
especially for Africa.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. noted “ One idea ( Du Bois ) insistently taught,” King once said, “ was that Black people have been kept in oppression and deprivation by a poisonous fog of lies that depicted us as inferior ……Du Bois recognized that the keystone in the arch of oppression was the myth of inferiority, and he dedicated his brilliant talent to demolish it.” King studied and had great respect for the works of Du Bois, and recognized his immense contributions to the Civil rights cause. Many militant activists have noted that without Du Bois’ lifelong effort, the 1963 Civil rights march – and all the steps taken toward true equality for African – Americans – might never have happened. He helped from the Niagara Movement, the NAACP, and was editor of the Crisis newspaper.
Before leaving Atlanta university where he wrote two books about the African continent, “Color and Democracy” and “The World And Africa”, he had always protested against the existence of European colonies in Africa.
He was a witness to the atrocities that were committed against Africans in
Africa, Europe, Asia, and elsewhere in the world. Du Bois help organize most of the Pan-African congresses from 1919 to 1926, and in 1945 he called for a new Pan-African Congress in England.This meeting was successful, and brought together important Black leaders around the world; and was a launching pad for the Africans studying and or working in Europe; to organize and down colonialism once and for all. Out of this meeting, three African attendees later became heads of State or first Prime Ministers of – Ghana ( Kwame Nkrumah ), Kenya ( Jomo Kenyatta ), and Nigeria (Nnamdi Azikwe ) the following decades.
During this time he was badly treated and accused of many things including troublemaker etc.and even falsely arrested at the old age of 83.
The newly Independent nations stepped in and constantly seeked his advice.
The President of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah who took him as a mentor, father, and friend, invited him to come home to Ghana; and live the rest of his life. He also asked him to work on the Encyclopedia Africana, Du Bois now 90 years old accepted the invitation. In 1963, he went home finally and became a citizen of Ghana. He said “ My great grandfather was carried away in chains from the gulf of Guinea. I have returned that my dust shall mingle with dust of my forefathers.”
In August 27th, 1963 he died in Ghana; and an honor guard carried his
flag-drapped coffin to his resting place; close to where millions of Africans had been shipped to America and force into slavery. Ironically, in the U.S. ; one day after he was buried, a civil rights march was held in Washington D.C. and many vowed to continue the struggle. Few men in our struggle have sacrificed so much to break the chains of bondage, and bring respect and dignity to Africans in the 20th century.