The Life And Studies Of W.E.B. Du Bios


Theoretical Analysis Paper
The Life and Studies of W.E.B. Du Bois
Phillip Stayton
Social Theory
Prof. Wilcox
11/13/2000
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois entered the world on February 23, 1868. This was less than three years after slavery was outlawed. However, his family had been out of slavery for several generations. He was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, a small village with only a handful of black families. His teachers quickly made him a favorite, and most of his playmates were white. At the age of fifteen he became a local correspondent for the New York Globe. Du Bois moved to Nashville, Tennessee where he received a scholarship and attended Fisk University. This was the first time that he discovered that being black was a big part of his identity. He spent his summers in Tennessee teaching in rural schools. It was there that he met the real seat of slavery. He had never seen such poverty in his entire life. I touched intimately the lives of the commonest of mankind--people who ranged from barefooted dwellers on dirt floors, with patched rags for clothes, to rough hard-working farmers, with plain clean plenty. (Hamilton, Her Stories). Unlike Massachusetts, Nashville was a southern town that exposed Du Bois to the everyday bigotry he had escaped growing up. While he was there he came in contact with some people that did not think of him as a normal human being. There is a story of one woman that called him a nigger after she accidentally bumped into her. By the end of his college years Du Bois had begun to take pride in his heritage. Du Bois graduated from Fisk and entered Harvard where he received his A.B., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. He was the first African-American to receive a doctorate from that university. He also spent two years studying at the University of Berlin, which was at the time the world's most distinguished center for advanced research in history. His doctoral dissertation was a study of the efforts to suppress the African slave trade. He accepted a position teaching at Wilberforce University, a college for black students in Ohio. After an unhappy year, he left to be a researcher at the University in Pennsylvania. There he studied the African-American immigrants to Philadelphia. He published The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study in 1899, the first serious sociological study of the emerging black urban population. In 1897 ?Du Bois accepted a new position at Atlanta University. It was there that he began to enter the realm of political activism that would dominate the rest of his life. He began to help black people devise a strategy for confronting the growing pattern of discrimination that they were facing.?(Microsoft, Encarta Encyclopedia). In 1897 Du Bois accepted a new position at Atlanta University. It was there that he began to enter the realm of political activism that would take control of the rest of his life. He began to help black people come up with a strategy for confronting the growing pattern of discrimination that they were facing. He came up with a ten-year-cycle study. This was to find statistics on morality, business, education, art. environment, religion, and crime in black society's. After WWI broke out Du Bois planned another study. This covered the demographics, biology, socialization according to the family, groups, and class. This was a much larger study. He made this a study program that lasted one-hundred-years. . During the 1890s and early 1900s southern states passed Jim Crow Laws which required black people to stay out of public places that served whites. Separate restaurants, hotels, railroad cars, toilets, drinking fountains, etc. began to appear. Southern states passed laws that required voters to take confusing tests to qualify to vote. African-Americans responded to these conditions in a variety of ways. One response was to leave the South for a more desirable environment, where their rights would be respected and where there was economic opportunity. A second response was to seek some kind of accommodation within the limited opportunities whites were offering. Du Bois proposed a third alternative. He attacked Washington's claim that with freedom, Negro leadership should have begun at the plow and not in the Senate.
It is easy to see that all throughout Du Bois' life