The Souls of Black Folk
The whole land seems forlorn and forsaken. Here are the remnants of the vast plantations of the Sheldons, the Pellots, and the Rensons; but the souls of them are passed. The houses lie in half ruin, or have wholly disappeared; the fences have flown, and the fam...more
I would recommend this book not only to those interested in issues of race, but also anyone interested in American culture and society as a whole. It is a telling book that s...more
(Side note: I listened to the last half of the book on audio from Librivox, which is free and where e...more
In 1903, two years after Booker T. Washington's autobiography, "Up from Slavery: An Autobiography", W.E.B. Du Bois published "The Souls of Black Folk", a series of essays which today most consider a seminal work in African-American Sociology literature. Du Bois view of race relations in American at the dawn of the 20th century was clear, critical and deeply profound.
Throughout the fourteen chapters Du Bois uses a metaphor, the veil, with considerable deftness:
This collection of short essays was written in 1903 and basically changed the way people thought and talked about race in America. DuBois broke down the notion of a scientific explanation for racism and racial bigotry. He essentially went to the University of Atlanta to do just the opposite, to accomplish by scientific means some understanding of race relations and what was called at the time "the Negro problem." After only a few years, he realized that you can't solve a social...more
There's lots of good (great? amazing?) here in different forms, the book a mix of sociology, argument, and beautifully crafted lyrical prose.
Writing-wise, for their lyrical strength and, indeed, beauty, as well as for the power they add to the information and arguments presented throughout, I felt the strongest chapters/essays were "Of the Passing of the First-Born" (painful in its mourning and in its joy, and yet achingly beautiful), "Of Alexander Crummell" (a man...more
One of his central criticisms of Booker T. is his over-emphasis of the individual responsibility of the "Negroes" to lift themselves out of "degradation" at the expense of ignoring the necessity of societal and systemic change. DuBois takes a more integrated view of responsibility--both individual exertion to raise themselves from poverty and ignorance, and working toward change in general public opinion (t...more
Having said that, I do enjoy his metaphor of the veil that separates Black men from society and the constant striv...more
Du Bois chronicles the hopes and dreams destroyed; the attempts at education undermined; the physical and psychological degradation at the hands of the Jim Crow sy...more
"Between me and the other world there is ever an unasked question: masked by some through feelings of delicacy; by others through the difficulty of framing it. All, nevertheless,...more
Du Bois was an eloquent writer able to paint a clear picture of the times for the readers, yet I found in his writing an underlying tone of anger, resentment, and turmoil...more
A challenging read if you aren't taking a course on African-American history. I say challenging because a hundred years later, we can't easily see the subtext that a contemporary reader would have had. It can certainly be jarring to a 21st century progressive to read the passages which strike an understanding and forbearant stance toward the oppressors in the anteb...more
The following is a passage that turned into a paper for one of my classes: "I held him in my arms, after we had sped far away from our Southern home,--held him, and glanced at the hot red soil of Georgia and the breathle...more
If the convictions weren't reason enough to read this, there's also the peerles...more
I was constantly amazed at the breadth of learning and brilliance as a story teller that DuBois. This is a brilliant man. His constant u...more
Du Bois was an observant man. He was one to notice social trends from afar.
He was critical of his contemporaries and concious of his predecessors and as well was aware of the blacks of the future.
I am Muslim, so his Christianity I had to ignore.
But he was a deep man, and gets personal sometimes. With a hint of pride, which I consider an indication genuinity.
The opening words are a highlight.
Read it if you are into black activism.
Read it if you like social revolution.