W. E. B. Du BoisActivist / Writer
Born: 23 February 1868
Died: 27 August 1963
Birthplace: Great Barrington, Massachusetts
Best known as: Author of The Souls of Black Folk
Name at birth: William Edward Burghardt DuBoisScholar and political activist W.E.B. Du Bois helped found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). DuBois attended Harvard University and in 1895 became the first African-American to receive a doctorate from the school. He became a university professor, a prolific writer and a pioneering social scientist on the topic of black culture. W.E.B. DuBois particularly disagreed with black leaders such as Booker T. Washington who urged integration into white society; Du Bois championed global African unity and (especially in later years) separatism. He distilled his views in his famous 1903 book The Souls of Black Folk. In 1909 he was a founding member of the NAACP, an organization promoting progress and social equality for blacks. Du Bois continued for decades as a strong public voice on behalf of African-Americans. In the 1950s, DuBois clashed with the federal government over his support for labor, his public appreciations of the Soviet Union, and his demands that nuclear weapons be outlawed. He emigrated to Ghana in 1961 and became a citizen of that country shortly before his death in 1963. The Autobiography of W.E.B. DuBois was published posthumously in 1968.
W.E.B. Du Bois married the former Nina Gomer in 1896; they were married until her death in 1950. They had two children: son Burghardt, who died in infancy, and daughter Yolande. Du Bois married the former Shirley Graham in 1951; they had no children, but her son from a previous marriage, David Graham, later took Du Bois’s name.
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