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The Souls of Black Folk

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  26,864 Ratings  ·  1,018 Reviews
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (1868-1963) is the greatest of African American intellectuals--a sociologist, historian, novelist, and activist whose astounding career spanned the nation's history from Reconstruction to the civil rights movement. Born in Massachusetts and educated at Fisk, Harvard, and the University of Berlin, Du Bois penned his epochal masterpiece, The ...more
Kindle Edition, 121 pages
Published May 16th 2012 by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. (first published 1903)
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[Name Redacted] He's intensely critical of what he terms "sensualism" and sees it as a key vice of all classes and all races. Other than that? *shrug*

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Bill  Kerwin
Jan 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-studies

While reading Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me, I asked myself whether any other book offered such penetrating insight into the black experience in equally impressive prose. The first name that came to me was The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois.

The Souls of Black Folk was published in 1903, and just as the two directions of black leadership in the tumultuous 60's and '70's were symbolized by Martin and Malcolm, the two directions at the turn of the last century—a period punctuate
...more
Ken Moten
Dec 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All Americans, on both continents. Also former colonial powers and why not throw in Australia too.
"I am black but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem,
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
Eric
Dec 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays, favorites
Man, this guy can preach. I opened The Souls of Black Folk (1903) and found myself ten years old watching Ken Burns’s The Civil War with my dad, dumbstruck by Morgan Freeman’s readings of mighty polemical passages from Frederick Douglass.

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
Darwin8u
Jun 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Nation has not yet found peace from its sins; the freedman has not yet found in freedom his promised land."
- W.E.B. Du Bois

description

I seem to be reading backward in time, not universally, I've read slave narratives and I've read Frederick Douglass, but mostly I've read about race backwards. I immersed myself in Coates, King, and Baldwin, and now Du Bois. Certainly, Booker T must be next.

I loved the book and how Du Bois danced between a sociological and cold examination of slavery, share cropping ec
...more
Roy Lotz
W.E.B. Du Bois was many things: pioneering social scientist, historian, activist, social critic, writer—and, most of all, a heck of a lot smarter than me. I say this because, while reading these essays, I had the continuous, nagging feeling of mental strain, which I found hard to account for. There is nothing conceptually difficult about his arguments; in fact, most are quite straightforward. Although his sentences do twist and turn, they’re not nearly as syntactically knotty as other authors th ...more
Trevor
Feb 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: race, social-theory
This is really not the book I thought it was going to be. I thought this would be a more-or-less dry book of sociology discussing the lives of black folk in the US – you know: a few statistics, a bit of outrage, a couple of quotes, some history, but all written in a detached academic style. It isn’t like that at all, although there are bits of it that are written exactly like that. Du Bois has been one of those people that I’ve been seeing about the place for some time now. There is an extensive ...more
Melki
Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is such beautiful writing here.

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
Paul
Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps your education was different, but I don't think it's a coincidence that when I look back at which prominent African Americans were taught in my elementary school history classes, Booker T. Washington featured prominently while W.E.B. Du Bois was never mentioned at all. Reading The Souls of Black Folk, it's easier to see why.

Washington was the advocate of conciliation, arguing that African Americans suffering in the ashes of failed Reconstruction should set aside their desire for equalit
...more
Eddie
May 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: african-american
Speaks The Truth To Power

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
Becky
FINALLY finished! This book has been my 'errand book' book for ages now. I'd read a page or two while waiting in the car while running errands, or in line at the post office or the grocery store, etc, and... I'm not sure that is the best way to read this book. I can appreciate it for its role in literature and history, but reading this way made it feel like this slim little book would never end. It got rather tedious towards the end, I'll be honest.

That being said, there is some really good stu
...more
Christina Marie
Read this in college a while ago... Loved it. Changed the way I think. It was the first time I was introduced to the concepts of "the veil" and "double consciousness". My mind was blown.
Aubrey
Much that the white boy imbibes from his earliest social atmosphere forms the puzzling problems of the black boy's mature years.
On Feb 1st, 1903, a century ago and counting, W.E.B. Du Bois introduced this work with the statement that "the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line." It is the Twenty-First century. I regularly teach students who have known no other century than this. All of them have aspirations to go to college. Very few of them are white, and as someone
...more
Paula
Feb 03, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I appreciate DuBois’s classic study of race as an historical document, and at times even as a piece of literature. I particularly value his depiction of the political, social and material conditions in the South immediately following the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the Civil War. Nevertheless, I question some of his proposals and conclusions. Although his views may have been radical in 1903, many of them now sound paternalistic and outdated. Perhaps that, in and of itself, is a sign ...more
Clint Priest
Aug 21, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really did not care for this book at all, one that is considered a major literary work. The book was to describe the black experience in America around the turn of the century but it comes off as nothing more than indulgent prose. It seems to strive for how eloquently it can complain and disagree with contemporaries like Booker T. Washington. I really hoped for better from this book and hoped to learn from a new perspective but all I learned is that W.E.B. DuBois is a professional bloviator.
Andrew
Jul 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in blackness in America
So far, so good.

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
david shin
Mar 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is one of the books that every human being should read in their lifetime. No other book is more profound or searing as DuBois' evaluation of the problem between the color line. It is both challenging and heart-breaking. Though we have made progress since the dawn of the twentieth century, we still have a long way to go.

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
Jan Priddy
It is an important book and I am glad to have read it.

Apparently I am the first reviewer to notice that Du Bois has done precisely what Sojourner Truth warned against. I had to hunt for it, but here it is: "...if colored men get their rights, and colored women not theirs, the colored men will be masters over the women, and it will be just as bad as it was before."—Sojourner Truth, 1867

There is discomforting harping on classes of black people, those who have pursued "advancement" and those who h
...more
Brittany
Jan 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-challenge
This is my first time ever reading any of DuBois's literature and I am BLOWN away. I'm just going to list what I loved about the book, and try not to give too much. THIS BOOK WILL MAKE YOU DIG DEEPER.

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
Linda
The classics challenge offered the perfect opportunity for me to read Du Bois’ classic The Souls of Black Folks. It is an assortment of essay, some of which were published in the Atlantic Monthly Magazine, before being assembled and published as a book in 1903.

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
janet
Still figuring what it all means. I'll get back to you on that, but it's deep. He used three utterly complex phrases: "the color line", "double consciousness," and "the veil" and the discussion of race in America has never been the same since. The second term wasn't a new term but he used it in his own brilliant and particular ways-not just one. I don't know who coined the first term. For all I know, it was Du Bois, but I kind of doubt it. The third term is from the bible, but he takes control o ...more
Alex
Larsen describes him as "peppery," and I like that. He's civil, but he's quietly laying haymakers. It's an important book. To a depressing extent, when we talk about racial injustice these days, we're still repeating DuBois.

It is nonfiction - essays on the challenges Blacks face in the wake of the Civil War - so be aware, it's not like it's going to have a plot. I'm reading it one chapter at a time between other things; going straight through was making me miss some stuff.

The prologue, with the
...more
Eric
Feb 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very short book, but packed with different ways of looking at the aftermath of slavery in the United States.

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
Lark Benobi
This feels like an Ur-text, for sociology, for identity studies, for African American history. It's like what Euclid is to every Geometry book written since. It's clear-sighted, and it's also very sad, to realize how much momentum has been lost, and how little has changed since Du Bois wrote this book.
Marta
This seminal work of African-American scholarship was first published in 1903 and unfortunately is still relevant. Breathtaking in scope and written in eloquent, dignified and often poetic prose, Dubois examines the history and state of blacks in America from sociological, political, psychological and cultural point of view. He draws a picture of constant struggle, dispair, poverty, lack of education and motivation.

This work is essential in understanding many of the issues facing African-America
...more
Lydia
This is Du Bois state of the race book on the status of African-Americans at the turn of the 20th Century. He paints of bleak picture of a kidnapped, enslaved race that is suddenly set free with no education (against the law); no skills (for the majority of workers) and no family structure in the land of the free and home of the brave.

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
Chris brown
Dec 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
an absolute must read.
Howard Franklin
Feb 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am adding The Souls of Black Folk, by the great black intellectual and civil rights leader, W.E.B. DuBois. As the note introducing this masterful and eloquent volume states: “Part social documentary, part history, part autobiography, part anthropological field report, The Souls of Black Folk remains unparalleled in its scope.” And I would add, not only true at the time of its publication in 1903, but equally true today.

When I began this work, I knew many things about W.E.B., facts like he was
...more
Ran
Aug 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, loc-list, race, 300s
"The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line - the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea."


Du Bois (Du Boyz - not Du Bwah, like my years of French demand) wrote so lyrically. This work centers on questions of race, racial domination, and racial exploitation through these essays and sketches. I've heard and read this aforementioned famous quote many a time before, but never got around to read the sem
...more
❤Marie Gentilcore
This was a beautifully written book containing a collection of essays on race and equality. The most powerful chapter for me was near the end and was called “Of the Coming of John.” It tells the tale of two Johns, one white and one black, and how they were friends as children but not as adults. They both took similar paths in life but had vastly different opportunities available to them. That essay spoke to me. I enjoyed most of the other essays but there were some that felt text book-like to me ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • The Mis-Education of the Negro
  • Racial Formation in the United States: From the 1960s to the 1990s
  • Race Matters
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  • The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class
  • Black Skin, White Masks
  • How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America: Problems in Race, Political Economy, and Society
  • Black Power: The Politics of Liberation
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  • The New Negro
  • Up from Slavery
  • Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made
  • An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy Vol. 1
  • Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination
  • The Ways of White Folks
  • Women, Race, and Class
  • Blues People: Negro Music in White America
  • W.E.B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race, 1868-1919
482 followers
In 1868, W.E.B. Du Bois (William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, pronounced 'doo-boyz') was born in Massachusetts. He attended Fisk College in Nashville, then earned his BA in 1890 and his MS in 1891 from Harvard. Du Bois studied at the University of Berlin, then earned his doctorate in history from Harvard in 1894. He taught economics and history at Atlanta University from 1897-1910. The Souls of Black ...more
More about W.E.B. Du Bois

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“Herein lies the tragedy of the age: not that men are poor, — all men know something of poverty; not that men are wicked, — who is good? not that men are ignorant, — what is Truth? Nay, but that men know so little of men.” 132 likes
“One ever feels his twoness, -- an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose strenth alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” 66 likes
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