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W.E.B. DuBois vs Booker T. Washington

Dr. W.E.B. DuBois - Mini Bio

​Dr.  W.E.B. DuBois

Dr. William Edward Burghardt DuBois  1868 - 1963








Some people are born leaders.  Early in life, they often say and so things that make others want to follow them.  Dr. William Edward Burghardt DuBois was such a person.  He was an educator, historian, author, and an outspoken civil rights leader.

W.E.B. DuBois was born February 23, 1868, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.  He was the only child of Alfred and Mary DuBois.  His mother and father separated when he was a very young boy. Life for William and his mother was difficult.  After her death in 1884, young DuBois worked in a factory as a timekeeper.  That same year, as the only Black, he graduated from Great Barrington High School.

DuBois wanted to go further in school.  He had proved that he was very intelligent, so his principal helped him earn a scholarship.  This helped pay his bills at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. He graduated in 1888, and then enrolled, with another scholarship, at Harvard College in Massachusetts.  In 1895, he became the first Black American to received a Doctorate degree (Ph.D.) from Harvard.

In 1896, Dr. DuBois married Nina Gomer.  That same year, he published his first important book. This book told how Blacks were treated in the United States from 1638 to 1870.  This book also was the start of his becoming known as a great thinker on social issues.  In his lifetime, Dr. DuBois would write over 100 books, articles, and poems.

Dr. DuBois was one of America's strongest backers for the rights of Blacks.  They could not ignore his intelligence, vision, and writings skills.  He showed his devotion to his people in all he did. Besides being a great writer, Dr. DuBois became a teacher of Greek, Latin, German, English, economics, and history.

In 1903, he wrote his most famous book, The Souls of Black Folk.  This book was a complete study on Blacks.  It also stated the social changes needed to bring Blacks into the mainstream of American life.  Because he wanted to make a positive change for his people, DuBois began to organize and protest against prejudice.

In 1905, DuBois started the Niagara Movement.  This organizing later became the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).  The NAACP fought for the equal rights of blacks.  Full citizenship, fair housing laws, equal education, anti-lynching, and legal justice were just some of the battle fronts on which the NAACP fought.  As an officer in the NAACP, DuBois started the Crisis magazine to keep Blacks informed on racial issues and progress.

DuBois worked for the freedom of people of all races.  He urged that Britain grant independence to the people of Africa and the West Indies.  He went to many peace meetings held in different countries.  After his wife's death in 1950, DuBois married Shirley Graham.  Together they worked on many projects.  Dr. DuBois later became a leader of the World Peace Information Center.

In 1961, at the invitation of the President of Ghana, Dr. DuBois moved to Africa.  Because of his love for and work for Africa and its people, DuBois was made a citizen of Ghana, Africa, in 1963.  Later that same year, Dr. W.E.B. DuBois died on August 27th.

In 1969, a memorial park was established near the DuBois home in Great Barrington.  In 1976, his home became a national historic landmark.  Dr. DuBois has been often called one of the greatest thinkers of all time.


Excerpt from A Gift of Heritage Black Civil Rights Leaders.


This is only a summary of the life of W.E.B. DuBois.