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Undoing the Miseducation of Black America: W.E.B. DuBois

 Welcome to HARLEM!!!
Are you black? Do you speak Spanish? How about Chinese? Arabic? Are you gay? Are you a girl? Do you live in the US? Do you have a nickname? If you answered yes to any combination of the above questions, you might understand what W.E.B. DuBois ("doo-boyz") meant when he referred to his African-American dual identity, his "twoness."


The Number 7...

W.E.B. DuBois believes African Americans are born from two cultures and have two different souls: one African, the other American. African-American intellectual W.E.B. DuBois called this his "twoness," his dual identity, his being a part of two different cultures, two different states of being. The use of two names is a way of remembering who he and his ancestors were and who he and his family are today.

Harlem's super famous Apollo Theatre!
So, just who WAS this W.E.B. DuBois? According to many Americans, W.E.B. DuBois was, perhaps, the most influential African American intellectual of the 20th century.

As a student, he noticed that his history courses were very white centered. When he learned about the history of the Civil War in school, he was taught that Reconstruction was an attempt on behalf of southern white plantation owners to escape from the savagery that slavery had brought upon THEM!. This inspired DuBois to write down the history of the African American experience from a black perspective, and he published his research for more than sixteen years. He also kept his dream of creating an African American encyclopedia. DuBois was personally dedicated to rewording US history and to giving it a black voice.

This home is where DuBois's heart is...and where he did all that studying
After years of studying, DuBois came to the conclusion that change could only be accomplished through protest, and not through obedience towards a white society. After a time he also realized that to achieve change, blacks must work with the white population. DuBois and his activists joined up with white liberals to form the bi-racial NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People).

While working at the NAACP, DuBois founded the magazine for the group. Through this magazine, The Crisis, he was able to speak out about racial injustice. He also printed the works of some famous African-Americans, including Langston Hughes.

Culture Blend...the Pan African US flag embodies DuBois's idea of an African American dual identity.
Although he had helped found the NAACP, DuBois grew to become one its biggest opponents. After several years with them, he didn't feel they were doing enough for the betterment of Blacks. He wanted more drastic change. DuBois began to speak out in ways that did not agree with the NAACP's policies, which led to his removal from the group.
 REVEALED...DuBois vision for an African-American encyclopedia
DuBois fans feel he was significant to the African-American experience because he gave the black community an authentic history. He is a symbol of intellectual independence and teaches us "that its cool to be intelligent". DuBois grew up learning nothing about his race or race relations but he soon became the first African American to graduate from Harvard, invented the field of African American sociology, and founded the most influential civil rights organization in the 20th century. He rose above his situation, freed his mind, and created his own life, just like we have the chance to do everyday. Stephen.


Please email me at: stephen@ustrek.org


Links to Other Dispatches

Stephanie - Poetry to stir the soul and inspire a nation
Nick - How the government ground down a community
Stephanie - Two nations, one country