W.E.B. Du Bois: The Souls of Black Folk
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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
As the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.
Look not upon me, because I am black,
Because the sun hath looked upon me:
My mother's children were angry with me;
They made me the keeper of the vineyards;
But mine own vineyard have I not kept." - Song of Solomon 1:5-6 KJV
Bright Sparkles in the Churchyard
These are the lyrical and musical epigraphs preceding chapter seven.
"The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line, -- ...more
Some of it is full of hope:
He arose silently, and passed out into the night. Down toward the sea he went, in the fitful starlight, half conscious of the girl who followed timidly after him. When at last he stood upon the bluff, he turned to his little sister and looked upon her sorrowfully, remembering with sudden pain how little thought he had given her. He put his arm about her and let her passion of tears spend itself on his shoulder.
Long they stood toge ...more
That being said, there is some really good stu ...more
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
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
Each chapter in The Souls of Black Folks begins with a poetic epigraph including a musical score. The poetry was not written by Du Bois. Some are traditional spirituals. Others are poems written by African-Americans as well as white Ameri ...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:
"...the Neg ...more
1. Climate Change of his writing. DuBois starts the book off with very a fact driven, political, and sociological nature that leaves no doubt of the racial injustice and inequality of the 19th Century. For a reader who isn't quite history driven, the first few chapters may be hard to follow. (Maybe ...more
"It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One eve ...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
By turns, it's history, autobiography, sociology, economics, religious studies, eulogy, musicology... even fiction. There's an illustrative story near the end.
And a great example of poetry-in-prose, when the subject is the emotions of those subject to The Veil (his word for the uncrossable color line). DuBois is a master of the English language, always using the right style to communicat ...more
This is a vital book for anyone interested in American history or social conditions and race today. It turned out to be quite prophetic.
First though you will have to get over the language. It's a little lahdedah, poetic and at times pompous; one moment I would be learning something really interesting about the demographics of Atlanta and in my head I' ...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
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
Mirron Willis's narration may have played a role in my feelings for the book, as his deep slow voice was soporific. I had to speed up the narration to 2x to get what felt like normal speed to me. Even at that speed, I had difficulty focusing on the narration and frequently ended up reading along to force my attention to the text. ...more