A legacy of scholarship and struggle: W.E.B.Du Bois and the political affairs of his twilight years

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In the coming weeks, commemorations of the March on Washington will acknowledge Martin Luther King's iconic "I Have a Dream" speech. Others will recall the addresses of labor leader A. Philip Randolph and the activist and future Congressperson John Lewis along with the inspiring musical performances of Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Marian Anderson, and of course Mahalia Jackson.

Likely to get lost in the mix of history and memory is another speech-effectively recounted in Charles Euchener's Nobody Turn Me Around: A People's History of the 1963 March on Washington-NAACP Executive Secretary Roy Wilkins' announcement of W. E. B. Du Bois's death in Ghana the day before the March. In one breath, Wilkins praised Du Bois; in the next breath, he maintained a severe distance from the towering intellectual and civil rights activist. To the thousands gathered at the Washington Mall on that warm August day, Wilkins praised Du Bois's famous 1903 book The Souls of Black Folk, remarking that it was Du Bois's "voice that [called] to you to gather here today in this cause." However, Wilkins quickly lamented that "in his later years Dr. Du Bois chose another path." Wilkins' reference to "another path" meant Du Bois's vocal advocacy of socialism and communism, convictions Du Bois proclaimed in the closing decades of his life during the 1930s, 40s, and 50s.[1]

Yet, there are other memories of that historic day. Black intellectual John Oliver Killens recalled that as he gathered with James Baldwin, Sidney Poitier and others at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D. C., on the morning of August 28, 1963, someone walked in an announced that "The old man died." According to Killens, no one had to inquire about the old man's identity. "We all knew who the old man was, because he was our old man. He belonged to every one of us. And we belonged to him," Killens stated. A writer with a keen ability to flesh out the feeling of a particular historical setting, Killens continued: "More than any other single human being, [Du Bois], through the sheer power of his vast and profound intelligence, his tireless scholarship and his fierce dedication to the cause of black liberation, has brought us and the other two hundred and fifty thousand souls to this place, to this moment in time and space." However, Killens also knew that on that August day in 1963 he was firmly in history's grasp. His awareness beamed. "There was a kind of poetic finale that made sense to us," Killens noted, "that [Du Bois] should die on the very eve of this historical occasion. He was a man of irony. He had run a tremendous race, and now it would be up to us, all of use everywhere, to take the torch and carry it forward. He had left us a legacy, of scholarship and struggle."[2]

Wilkins' striking announcement and Killens' recollection of Du Bois's death powerfully illustrate the combative politics of the modern civil rights era. These historical snapshots also forcefully remind us of the visceral anticommunist rejection of Du Bois's radical politics during his twilight years. Today, 50 years after his death, Du Bois's later years remain obscured and underappreciated. Only a handful of scholars-namely the work of the late Manning Marable, Gerald Horne, Amy Bass, and Eric Porter, among others-have incisively chronicled Du Bois's latter decades. In this year of half-century anniversaries of momentous civil rights events (e.g., King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail," Medgar Evers' murder, Sixteenth Street Baptist bombing, etc.), let us also recall the importance of Du Bois's "legacy of scholarship and struggle"-particularly that of his later years. It is imperative that communities committed to justice not only remember Du Bois's death, but also explore Du Bois's work from his closing decades to generate renewed energy, inspiration, and intellectual capital to tackle the economic and racial injustices that continue to bedevil humanity. Du Bois's global perspective, critique of capitalism, and support for multiracial solidarity beckon our attention.

A Short History of W. E. B. Du Bois's Twilight Years

I locate W. E. B. Du Bois's twilight years from 1934, when he exited the NAACP, to 1963, the year Du Bois passed away. The year 1934 marked a career-shifting development, both professionally and personally. Given Du Bois's passing in such a momentous year and amidst the growing heat of the Cold War, questions about his legacy deserve recognition as well.

Du Bois resigned from the NAACP in 1934 over the most effective approaches to civil rights. Parting ways with an association he co-founded also meant the termination of his quarter-century career at The Crisis magazine, the NAACP's magazine he founded and edited. Thereafter Du Bois returned to college teaching at Atlanta University, where he remained until 1944. While in Atlanta Du Bois traveled across the globe to places such as Germany, Russia, and Japan, and published important studies like the Marxist-framed Black Reconstruction (1935) and an autobiography Dusk of Dawn (1939). By the late 40s-in his seventies-Du Bois's international perspective on global justice found a home with Left organizations such as the Council of African Affairs and the anti-nuclear Peace Information Center. The aging but still insightful scholar even ran for the U. S. Senate in 1950. Amidst the Cold War hysteria over Communism, Du Bois's pointed critiques of the deep relationship between capitalism, colonialism, and racism-in short, his cogent analysis of the global color line-raised the ire of rabid anticommunists and drew additional attention of J. Edgar Hoover's FBI. As a result, Du Bois found himself arrested for refusing to register as the representative of a foreign principal. Ultimately acquitted in November 1951, Du Bois's experiences steeled a resolve that focused on proposing a socialist solution to a world gripped in the chaos of gross injustice, a message he committedly proclaimed in numerous speeches throughout the 1950s. Since the State Department seized Du Bois's passport for most of that decade-a practice it continues to inflict on principled dissidents in our own day-Du Bois's stateside sequester limited his global travel but did not prevent his socialist vision from impacting the world. Du Bois's writings continued to make their way into the hands of hungry readers, such as the summary of his McCarthy persecution from In Battle for Peace (1952), and his midcentury newspaper columns with Amsterdam News, Chicago Defender, People's Voice, National Guardian, and Freedom. During 1958 and 1959 with passport in hand, Du Bois commenced another global excursion, traveling to England, Sweden, and France. In Russia Du Bois sojourned for five months, and in a meeting with Nikita Khrushchev persuaded the premier to sponsor an Africa Institute. Continuing eastward, Du Bois's two-month stay in China included meetings with Mao Zedong and the Chinese premier Zhou Enlai. Thousands turned out to greet Du Bois in February 1959 when he delivered a lecture in China the day he turned 91.[3]

Over the next few years, Du Bois continued to write and to advocate for justice. However, two developments of note occurred in October 1961. On October 1, Du Bois wrote to Gus Hall, formally requesting membership in the Communist Party. "I have been long and slow in coming to this conclusion," Du Bois wrote, "but at last my mind is settled." The same month Du Bois penned his membership letter, he received an invitation from Ghanaian leader Kwame Nkrumah to continue work on a long-germinating project, the Encyclopedia Africana. In Ghana Du Bois and his second wife, the Communist writer and activist Shirley Graham, welcomed a steady stream of guests and disciples at their comfortable Accra residence. Du Bois's faltering health in 1962 necessitated an emergency trip to London and a recuperation period in Switzerland followed by a return trip through Russia and China. Back in Ghana, Du Bois visited the American Embassy to renew his passport. Officials refused, citing legal requirements that no member of the Communist Party could have a U. S. passport. Embittered but passionately principled, Du Bois became a Ghanaian citizen. Du Bois spent his remaining days under U. S. surveillance, and despite a weakened constitution, he entertained guests and continued to think and plan the Encyclopedia Africana. Du Bois died in late August 1963, the day before Martin Luther King announced his iconic dream for America's future. Du Bois's widow relayed that in the days leading up to his death, Du Bois was aware of plans for and "greatly interested" in the March on Washington. At Du Bois's state funeral in Ghana, mourners heard a number of eulogies as they processed to his final resting place. As the journalist William Branch reported in Amsterdam News, a torrential rain pelted those present as the ceremony concluded-a sign Africans took as a libation from heaven in recognition of Du Bois's life well lived.[4]

The legacy of W. E. B. Du Bois's life after death demands our attention as well. One place we observe Du Bois's legacy is to recall the creation of W. E. B. Du Bois Clubs. Founded in the 1960s by Du Bois comrade Bettina Aptheker (and daughter of former Political Affairs editor Herbert Aptheker) along with the tireless efforts of many others including the CPUSA's Jarvis Tyner, the Du Bois Clubs naturally caught the attention of the U. S. government, but also riled up rabid anticommunists like Richard Nixon. In 1966 Nixon, then chair of the Boys Club of America, made the ludicrous claim that since "Du Bois" rhymed with "Boys" W. E. B. Du Bois Clubs sought to dupe would-be members of Boys Club of America into joining the Communist cause. While long since disbanded, Tim Wheeler reported earlier this year in Peoples World that Du Bois's legacy is alive and well with former Du Bois Club comrades. Former members gathered not only to recall their history, but also to pool social and intellectual capital to pledge renewed commitments to justice. We also see Du Bois's legacy in his hometown of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, where contests over his memory blazed in the late 1960s and 1970s but also even as recently as 2004 over the naming of a school in Du Bois's honor.[5]

Let us also not forget that at a meeting in 1968 to commemorate Du Bois's century mark, some of the twentieth century's most notable people maintained the legitimacy of Du Bois's closing decades through bold, public proclamations. For example, in the tumultuous year of 1968-turning points in international and domestic affairs-Du Bois continued to be a flashpoint of controversy even as sympathetic interests sought to champion his legacy. Martin Luther King delivered a speech titled "Honoring Du Bois" at a Freedomways ceremony at Carnegie Hall celebrating Du Bois's 100th birthday. "History cannot ignore W. E. B. Du Bois," thundered King only three months before his assassination, "Because history has to reflect the 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." King also demanded a robust reckoning with Du Bois's politics. He stated, "We cannot talk of Dr. Du Bois without recognizing that he was a radical all his life. Some people would like to ignore the fact that he was a Communist in his later years . . . It is time to cease muting the fact that Dr. Du Bois was a genius and chose to be a communist. Our irrational obsessive anticommunism has led into too many quagmires . . . . Dr. Du Bois has left us but he has not died." At that same meeting, a young history professor named John Hope Franklin gave a keynote, cognizant of the moment's historical gravity. Franklin observed that, "The manner in which the death of W. E. B. Du Bois was reported in some quarters here in the United States is itself a curious commentary on the extent to which the country of his birth was out of touch with him." Conscious of the politicization of Du Bois's memory, Franklin jumped to his defense: "[I] wish I could erase from my memory the picture of Dr. Du Bois at eighty years of age handcuffed like a common thief, accused of being the agent of a foreign power. Even his subsequent exoneration [in 1951] cannot obliterate . . . the impression that, perhaps, will always remain: that he was the victim not merely of the fanaticism that characterized those years, but that he was being punished for what he had represented for more than half a century."[6]

W. E. B. Du Bois for the 21st Century

Both praised and excoriated for his principled convictions and critical analysis of the world in which he inhabited, it is important to pause at the half-century mark of Du Bois's passing and consider the enduring power of his historical witness. Although commemorations and celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington will likely overlook the anniversary of Du Bois's death-or relegate him to a mere footnote of that historic event-Du Bois remains relevant for our own time. As Keith Feldman stated in a recent Al Jazeera article, "[W]e turn to Du Bois to plumb the thick emancipatory dreams persistently articulated by and for the world's darker peoples, to draw on their searing legacies and insights . . . We need Du Bois today, perhaps more than ever."[7]

Why do we need Du Bois now more than ever? First, Du Bois's international perspective was not only prescient, it is vital for the global moment of which we are a part. Second, Du Bois's critique of capitalism, along with capitalism's contemporary problems, demand envisioning more equitable solutions to current dilemmas. Finally, Du Bois's cognizance about multiracial alliances in the quest for racial justice-something he did not always see-is crucial as claims about today's so-called post-racial moment conceals gaping inequality even as it seeks to levy more power for the ruling classes. The prophets of today's so-called post-racial age, while they champion examples of individual racial and ethnic solidarity, often fail to analyze the structural inequalities that continue to divide those same individuals.

Du Bois remains relevant first because he framed his analysis of history and society in international perspective. After all, Du Bois first made his famous and prophetic pronouncement about the color line as the problem of the twentieth century in London. Convened in 1900, Du Bois's "Address to the Nations of the World" at the first Pan African Conference portended a life of organizing, writing, and otherwise agitating for justice across the globe. From numerous works of his later years such as Black Folk Now and Then (1939), Dusk of Dawn (1940), Color and Democracy: Colonies and Peace (1945), and The World and Africa (1947), we read how Du Bois understood the interdependence of the world's peoples, and how empires and unjust regimes commit themselves to a sadistic dynamism of exploitative practices. In the Introduction to his 1947 Appeal to the World, Du Bois presented racial justice in the United States in global terms. He wrote, "Therefore, Peoples of the World, we American Negroes appeal to you; our treatment in America is not merely an internal question of the United States. It is a basic problem of humanity; of democracy; of discrimination because of race and color; and as such it demands your attention and action. No nation is so great that the world can afford to let it continue to be deliberately unjust, cruel and unfair toward its own citizens." Today's interconnected and interdependent world is not just about snazzy smartphones, Skyping with friends, or the crowdsourcing of knowledge at Wikipedia; it is also about understanding the interconnection of capital and labor-mediated through amazing technological advances-and how the moneyed and ruling classes seek to harness such technologies to wrest both power and profits from working-class and middle-class folks.

Du Bois's relevance also has to do with his incisive criticism of capitalism. Du Bois deftly drew analytical connections between capitalism, race, empire, class, and democracy, particularly in his later works. Du Bois's 1952 book In Battle for Peace, a summary of his McCarthy trial, makes these connections. "As, then, a citizen of the world as well as of the United States of America, I claim the right to know and think and tell the truth as I see it," Du Bois proclaimed, "I believe in Socialism as well as Democracy. I believe in Communism . . . I believe in free enterprise among free men and individual initiative under physical, biological and social law . . . . We claim that America leads in democracy. This claim is old and has at times approached truth. It is not true today. For democracy, while logical in theory, is difficult to achieve and maintain in practice . . . . Wealth is not and never was entirely the result of individual effort; it always involved some measure of group co-operation."[8]

Another place to place to observe Du Bois's critique of capitalism is to return to his October 1961 letter of application to the Communist Party, referenced above. Speaking confidently with conviction, the 93-year-old Du Bois wrote to Gus Hall: "Capitalism cannot reform itself; it is doomed to self-destruction. No universal selfishness can bring social good to all. Communism-the effort to give all men what they need and to ask of each the best they can contribute-this is the only way of human life. It is a difficult and hard end to reach, it has and will make mistakes, but today it marches triumphantly on in education and science, in home and food, with increased freedom of thought and deliverance from dogma. In the end communism will triumph. I want to help bring that day." While in hindsight Du Bois's confidence in communism's ascendancy seems to overreach, it is true today that a Communist Party rules the world's most populous socialist country.

In Du Bois's final book, his posthumously published Autobiography (1968), he commented, "I believe in communism. I mean by communism, a planned way of life in the production of wealth and work designed for building a state whose object is the highest welfare of its people and not merely profit of a part. . .Once I thought that these ends could be attained under capitalism, means of production privately owned, and used in accord with free individual initiative. After earnest observation I now believe that private ownership of capital and free enterprise are leading the world to disaster." Du Bois linked these observations about capitalism and communism to particular political and economic events of his twilight years. Strikingly, and sadly, Du Bois's prescient words describe our own day, and deserve lengthy quotation. "Even today the contradictions of American civilization are tremendous," Du Bois wrote in his Autobiography's Postlude, "Freedom of political discussion is difficult; elections are not free and fair. Democracy is for us to a large extent unworkable . . . Those responsible for the misuse of wealth escape responsibility, and even the owners of capital often do not know for what it is being used and how. The criterion of industry and trade is the profit that it accrues, not the good which it does either its owners or the public. Present profit is valued higher than future need. We waste materials. We refuse to make repairs. We cheat and deceive in manufacturing goods. We have succumbed to an increased use of lying and misrepresentation . . . I know the United States. It is my country and the land of my fathers. It is still a land of magnificent possibilities. It is still the home of noble souls and generous people. But it is selling its birthright. It is betraying its might destiny."[9]

Finally, Du Bois is relevant today for his vision of a multiracial coalition to work vociferously for justice. In the midst of his McCarthy persecution, his 1951 loyalty trial, Du Bois experienced the generosity and goodwill of a multiracial, cross-class coalition of comrades. As Gerald Horne suggests in his book Race Woman, Shirley Graham Du Bois helped to usher in a wider coalition of comrades who would maintain solidarity with the couple in the face of intense federal scrutiny. In Du Bois's In Battle for Peace (1952), he wrote, "I find, curiously enough then, that my experience in the fantastic accusation and criminal process is tending to free me from that racial provincialism which I always recognized but which I was sure would eventually land me in an upper realm of cultural unity, led by 'My People' . . . . I am free from jail today, not only by those efforts of that smaller part of the Negro intelligentsia which has shared my vision, but also by the steadily increasing help of Negro masses and of whites who have risen above race prejudice not by philanthropy but by brotherly and sympathetic sharing of the Negro's burden and identification with it as part of their own . . . . I therefore thank all Communists and Socialists who stood out for my right to advocate peace, just as I thank all conservatives and liberals for daring to stand for what they conceived to be right, despite the 'Red' smear. I utterly refuse to be stampeded into opposition to my own program by intimations of dire and hidden motives among those who offer me support."[10]

These quotations taken from several of W. E. B. Du Bois's later works document his analytically based international perspective, present his cogent critiques of capitalism, and disclose his vision of multiracial democratic solidarity. Despite the sobering and difficult circumstances of Du Bois's closing years-not unlike our own times that demand sober analysis and committed action-from Du Bois's later work we can both recall his "legacy of scholarship and struggle" and continue to benefit from his "legacy of scholarship and struggle" for the days ahead.

Coda: Reading W. E. B. Du Bois

While Du Bois's full corpus deserves careful study, in this historical moment the tremendous work he produced in his twilight years demands our undivided attention. In the midst of a busy final three decades narrated above, consider the roster of Du Bois's published books during his latter decades. Keep in mind, Du Bois was in his late 60s when he published Black Reconstruction in 1935 and 93 when he published the third and final volume of the Black Flame trilogy. Two posthumous books also reflect work completed during his later years.

W. E. B. Du Bois's Late Career Books

Black Reconstruction 1935

Black Folk Then and Now 1939

Dusk of Dawn 1940

Color and Democracy 1945

The World and Africa 1947

In Battle for Peace  1952

Ordeal of Mansart 1957

Mansart Builds a School  1959

Worlds of Color  1961

ABC of Color  1963, 1970

The Autobiography 1968

The immediate task for our own time is to continue to cultivate a principled consciousness coupled with a critical perspective on today's most vital issues. One way to achieve these goals is to engage in perpetual historical study, investigation, and analysis of Du Bois's writings. Secondary works are of tremendous value in narrating the multiple contexts of Du Bois's later years-and the scholars noted above have produced excellent work-but I also urge a close reading of Du Bois's own words. In addition to the volumes listed above and referenced in the footnotes, recent publications provide access to Du Bois's global vision such as Bill V. Mullen and Cathryn Watson's, W. E. B. Du Bois on Asia: Crossing the World Color Line (University Press of Mississippi, 2005) and Eugene Provenzo and Edmund Abaka's W. E. B. Du Bois on Africa (Left Coast Press, 2012). Two valid on-line proletarian options, which I'd recommend to Du Bois students of all ages and backgrounds, are Dr. Robert Williams's WEBDuBois.org. Williams's site is the most up-to-date compendium of Du Bois on the Internet. While the large majority of the site provides tremendous material on the first half of Du Bois's life, Williams continues to update links to the work of Du Bois's later career. Finally, thanks to a number of timely grants and the heroic and painstaking work of archivists, the digitization of Du Bois's Papers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst will continue for many years to come. The user-friendly Credo digital archive yields a tremendous amount about Du Bois's twilight years, including a large collection of photographs and rare video footage. Begin reading here.

I end this Coda with Du Bois's own words. I select a prayer that comes from a series of meditations Du Bois wrote while teaching at Atlanta University around 1910. As Herbert Aptheker explained in his Introduction to the collection he edited and titled Prayers for Dark People, these prayers resurfaced toward the end of Du Bois's earthly sojourn in 1961 as Aptheker was editing Du Bois's enormous archive. These prayers were not published until 1980, 17 years after Du Bois's death. Timely when he first uttered them, timely when Aptheker discovered them in 1961, Du Bois's mediation remains important today.

Grant us, O God, the vision and the will to be found on the right side in the great battle for bread, which rages around us, in strike and turmoil and litigation. Let us remember that here as so often elsewhere no impossible wisdom is asked of men, only Thine ancient sacrifice-to do justly and love mercy and walk humbly-to refuse to use, of the world's goods, more than we earn, to be generous with those that earn little and to avoid the vulgarity that flaunts wealth and clothes and ribbons in the face of poverty. These things are the sins that lie beneath our labor wars, and from such sins defend us, O Lord. Amen. Micah 6:1-8.[11]

[1]Charles Euchener, Nobody Turn Me Around: A People's History of the 1963 March on Washington (Boston: Beacon, 2011), 182-184.

[2]John Oliver Killens, "Introduction," in W. E. B. Du Bois, An ABC of Color (New York: International Publishers, 1968), 9-10.

[3]Books that effectively chronicle Du Bois's closing years include Gerald Horne, Black and Red: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Afro-American Response to the Cold War, 1944-1963 (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1986), David Levering Lewis, W. E. B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century, 1919-1963 (New York: Henry Holt, 2000), Manning Marable, W. E. B. Du Bois: Black Radical Democrat (Boulder: Paradigm, 2005), Gerald Horne, W. E. B. Du Bois: A Biography (Santa Barbara: Greenwood, 2010), Eric Porter, The Problem of the Future World: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Race Concept at Midcentury (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010), and Yuichiro Onishi, Transpacific Antiracism: Afro-Asian Solidarity in 20th Century Black America, Japan, and Okinawa (New York: New York University Press, 2013), 1-15, 54-93.

[4]W. E. B. Du Bois to Gus Hall (October 1, 1961), in W. E. B. Du Bois, The Correspondence of W. E. B. Du Bois, Volume 3 Selections, 1944-1963, ed. Herbert Aptheker (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1978), 438-440; Horne, W. E. B. Du Bois, 186-191; Horne, Black and Red, 331-357; Henry Louis Gates, Jr., "W. E. B. Du Bois and the Encyclopedia Africana," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 568 (March 2000): 203-219; Jonathan Fenderson, "Evolving Conceptions of Pan-African Scholarship: W. E. B. Du Bois, Carter G. Woodson & the Encyclopedia Africana, 1909-1963," Journal of African American History 35/1 (Winter 2010): 71-91; Yunxiang Gao, "W. E. B. Du Bois and Shirley Graham Du Bois in Maoist China," Du Bois Review 10/1 (2013): 59-85; Julius Lester, "Introduction," in W. E. B. Du Bois, The Seventh Son: The Thoughts and Writings of W. E. B. Du Bois, ed. Julius Lester (New York: Vintage Books, 1971), 1:147-152.

[5]See, for example, Bettina Aptheker, Intimate Politics: How I Grew Up Red, Fought for Free Speech, and Became a Feminist Rebel (Emeryville, CA: Seal Press, 2006), 93-94; Bettina Aptheker, "W. E. B. Du Bois: Personal Stories/Political Reflections," 17th Annual Du Bois Lecture (2011), http://www.thewebduboiscenter.com/w-e-b-du-bois-center/events; Douglas Robinson, "Du Bois 'Duplicity' Decried by Nixon," New York Times (March 9, 1966), http://www.nytimes.com/books/00/11/05/specials/dubois-nixon.html; Tim Wheeler, "Du Bois Clubs Reunion: Memories, Battles Yet to Be Fought and Won!," Peoples World (June 18, 2013), http://peoplesworld.org/dubois-clubs-reunion-memories-battles-yet-to-be-fought-and-won/; Amy Bass, Those About Him Remained Silent: The Fight Over W. E. B. Du Bois (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009).

[6]Martin Luther King, "Honoring Dr. Du Bois," in W. E. B. Du Bois, W. E. B. Du Bois Speaks: Speeches and Addresses, 1890-1919, ed. Philip S. Foner (New York: Pathfinder, 1970), 12-20; John Hope Franklin, "W. E. B. Du Bois: A Personal Memoir," The Massachusetts Review 31/3 (Autumn 1990): 409-428.

[7]Keith Feldman, "A Haunting Echo: W. E. B. Du Bois in a Time of Permanent War," Al Jazeera (February 10, 2013) available at http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/02/20132772031503974.html.

[8]W. E. B. Du Bois, In Battle for Peace, ed. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007 [1952]), 114-117.

[9]W. E. B. Du Bois, The Autobiography of W. E. B. Du Bois: A Soliloquy on Viewing My Life from the Last Decade of Its First Century, ed. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007 [1968]), 35, 273.

[10]Gerald Horne, Race Woman: The Lives of Shirley Graham Du Bois (New York: New York University Press, 2000), 140-141; Du Bois, In Battle for Peace, 107-108, 112.

[11]W. E. B. Du Bois, Prayers for Dark People, ed. Herbert Aptheker (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1980), 29.


*[Biographical note: Phillip Luke Sinitiere (Ph.D., University of Houston) is Professor of History at the College of Biblical Studies. A scholar with specialties in American religious history and African American studies, he is co-author of Holy Mavericks: Evangelical Innovators and the Spiritual Marketplace (NYU, 2009), and co-editor of Protest and Propaganda: W. E. B. Du Bois, The Crisis, and American History (Missouri, 2013) and Christians and the Color Line: Race and Religion after Divided by Faith (Oxford, 2013).]

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  • "On the passing of W.E.B. DuBois, and the torch, 50 years ago" in the Plain Dealer, August 25, www.cleveland.com

    Posted by Werner Lange, 08/27/2013 8:18pm (8 months ago)

  • Many, many thanks to brother Phillip Luke Sinitiere for carefully highlighting both the well known and little known concerning the legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois for workers and the communists everywhere(especially the U.S.).
    Somehow, Sinitiere has captured that manytimes elusive spirituality of our titanic, phophetic, and indefatigible Du Bois-consciously gathered by Du Bois from souls like the immortal Alexander Crummell.
    Though often unsung and unknown, this spirituality was demonstrably connected with, the national, social and political movement of socialists and communists, maybe not as strongly and clearly as the years Sinitiere covers here(1934 to 1963) but shown, at least, in the traces and as arguably sources, of those strong impulses.
    This can be shown in the early, pre-Ph.D. years at Karl Marx's alma mater, in the economic work done there that his German professors raved about, and in Du Bois's childhood love for the spirituality demonstrated in nature itself(by the way, this love of nature shared by both Marx and Lenin).
    Phillip Luke Sinitiere's article here is a "Dream Come True" article for the CPUSA's PA.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 08/27/2013 2:38pm (8 months ago)

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