19 Untold Facts About W. E. B. Du Bois that No One Knows

Let me introduce you to William Edward Burghardt Du Bois!

He is an amazing person who was a scientist, thinker, journalist, novelist, and also an activist!

Du Bois was the person who strongly believed that education was the solution to the race problem!

This article will provide some wonderful facts about W. E. B. Du Bois that will completely amaze you!

Interesting Facts about W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois: The brave civil rights activist from Massachusetts

W. E. B. Du Bois Was Civil Rights Activist

Hey, there, little friends!

Did you know that W. E. B. Du Bois, the famous activist who made history, was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, on February 23, 1868.

His dad 👨 was Alfred Du Bois, and mom👩 was Mary Silvina. 

Mary Silvina’s family was part of the small free black population of Great Barrington. She was descended from African, Dutch, and English ancestors!

Du Bois’ father left him and his mother when he was just two years old

Sometime before 1860, William’s father, Alfred Du Bois immigrated to the United States and settled in Massachusetts. 

On February 5, 1867, Alfred married William’s mother, Mary, in Housatonic, in Great Barrington. 

However, only after two years of William’s birth Alfred left Mary and William in 1870!

Mary, with her son, moved back to her parent’s house in Great Barrington and lived there until William was five.

Mary worked really hard to support her family until, in the early 1880s, she suffered a stroke and died in 1885.

Du Bois attended a racially integrated school

Did you know this interesting secret about Du Bois? No? Let me explain.

Du Bois attended a somewhat racially integrated school🏫. There he was often known to be the only African American student in his class!

However, Du Bois even faced strong racism and discrimination, both from his white classmates as well as the broader society!

Later he became an advocate for racial integration and also inequality!

Also, his experiences grew in a diverse but still racially divided community, which eventually influenced his works and views!

Du Bois supported Women’s Rights quite strongly despite earlier skepticism

Du Bois Supported Women’s Rights

Du Bois was an avid supporter of women’s rights! He was one of the first members who joined Susan B Anthony’s National Woman Suffrage Association in 1910.

However, his views regarding women’s rights evolved over time. He ultimately came to see the fight for women’s rights as a crucial part of the struggle for justice and inequality in the United States!

Later, Du Bois became more involved in the civil rights movement and started to feel the importance of women’s rights.

He even wrote books advocating for women’s suffrage and argued that gender discrimination was a major barrier to equality!

The initial university formation of Du Bois: It was at Fisk University

Du Bois received his higher education at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. It was founded in 1866 to educate newly freed slaves!

Fisk University was also one of the first historically Black universities in the US. Du Bois studied here between 1885 and 1888. 

While studying at Fisk, he was actively involved in the student newspaper📰 and the debate society!

Also, throughout his career, Du Bois remained connected to Fisk!

In 1933, he even delivered a series of lectures on African American culture and history at Fisk’s campus!

W. E. B. Du Bois: Meet the first Black American to get a Ph. D. from Harvard

After studying at Fisk University, he went to seek a second bachelor’s degree from Harvard College 🏛️.

He earned a John F. Slater Fund grant to study at the University of Berlin but didn’t try it. In 1895, he returned to the United States and became the first Black American to earn a Ph. D. from Harvard. 

During his undergrad years at Harvard, Du Bois was taught by William James, the preeminent American philosopher and pioneer in psychology! James influenced Du Bois’ writing and thinking a lot!

The Souls of Black Folk: Book published by Du Bois in 1903

The Souls Of Black Folk Book By Du Bois

Du Bois discussed his concept of ‘double consciousness’ in his famous book The Souls of Black Folk. 

According to him, ‘double consciousness’ is an existential state experienced by persecuted people in oppressive societies! Also, it is marked by sensing that one’s identity is divided!

William James, Du Bois’ former professor praised the book upon its release! He even reportedly sent a copy of Du Bois’ amazing work to his brother, the world-famous American novelist Henry James!

Du Bois conducted the first significant case study of a Black community

Published in 1899, “The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study,” was the result of Du Bois suvey of the Black population in the city between 1896 and 1897.

The study involved 5000 personal interviews and tried to find out the social issues, only suffered by the Black people!

Not only it was the first case study on Black people but also an effort of sociological research that is completely data-driven as well as a form of statistically-based social science!

Du Bois was an active member of the Socialist Party of America

Let me tell you an interesting fact about Du Bois!

He was an active member of the SPA or the Socialist Party of America, in the early 20th century!

In 1910, Du Bois joined the Socialist Party after becoming disillusioned with the Democratic and Republican parties!

He believed that both parties had failed to address the economic and social inequalities that the Black people had to face!

However, sometimes, his opinions clashed with his fellow party members. Thus, in the early 1920s, Du Bois left the Socialist Party, after a series of internal disagreements!

Du Bois was a civil rights activist globally

Du Bois Was A Civil Rights Activist

I am really amazed to explore this praiseworthy fact about Du Bois! 

His interest in equality even extended beyond the borders of America! 

He helped organize several Pan-African conferences after participating in his first in London in 1900.

There, Du Bois penned the “Address to the Nations of the World.” This urged both the European and the United States nations to protest against systemic racism and to end colonialism.

As an activist and writer, Du Bois fought for freedom and equality for the entire African diaspora and also for Africans themselves!

Du Bois was the founder of the Niagara Movement

During the Reconstruction Era in the South, Black Americans experienced a greater amount of political participation and social freedom!

However, nearing the end of the century, southern states started segregating facilities and even restricting voting rights!

In response, Booker T. Washington helped in the birth of the Atlanta Compromise. It was a principle that Black Americans must avoid protesting for civic rights.

Hence, in 1905, Du Bois and newspaper editor William Monroe Trotter led a group and founded the Niagara Movement. 

The movement advocated for equal economic and educational opportunities, equal treatment, and also ‘manhood suffrage.’

Du Bois was the co-founder of NAACP

Little fact lovers, have you heard this amazing secret about Du Bois? No? Then let’s explore!

Four years after the Niagara meeting, Du Bois co-founded the NAACP or the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. 

It was created as a biracial organization, and it must protest and lobby for equality.

It even fought some battles like fighting Jim Crow laws in the South, opposing President Wilson’s segregation in federal workplaces, etc.

This organization even fought for the rights of Black Americans to work as military officers in the WW I.

Du Bois, a victim of McCarthyism

Du Bois, A Victim Of McCarthyism

In 1942, the FBI started a file on Du Bois, an avowed socialist! 

In the 1950s, when McCarthyism was at its peak, Du Bois, the chairman of the anti-nuke Peace Information Center, and other four people were charged with not registering the organization.

If they had been convicted, they had to face five years in prison⛓️, along with a $10,000 fine!

However, the jury didn’t get to offer a verdict as defense attorney Vito Marcantonio informed that Albert Einstein would testify for Du Bois, and hearing this, the judge🧑‍⚖️ threw the case out! Interesting, right?

Du Bois received the Lenin Prize

In 1959, W. E. B. Du Bois, a significant African American sociologist, civil rights activist, and historian, was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize🥇!

The Lenin Peace Prize was an award presented by the Soviet Union. It was presented to people who made notable contributions to the cause of peace. 

Du Bois got this award for his lifelong commitment to the cause of social justice and peace. He even advocated for human rights and racial equality!

The Lenin Peace Prize was awarded annually from 1950 to 1990! 

Du Bois was an anti-nuclear activist

Did you know this wonderful fact about Du Bois?

In the 1950s and 1960s, Du Bois got involved in the anti-nuclear movement!

He even spoke out against the creation and use of atomic bombs 💣 and weapons! He was actually quite concerned about the impact of those dangerous weapons on people of color.

Thus, he saw nuclear testing as environmental racism.

After the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he saw nuclear weapons as a threat to global security!

Du Bois’ Silent March: It inspired Martin Luther King

Du Bois’ Silent March

One of the first major civil rights protests was the Silent March of 1917. 

It was mainly a protest against racial violence and discrimination against Black Americans.

The NAACP organized it in response to the East St. Louis Race Riot of 1917, in which many African Americans were killed by white mobs.

Thus, on July 28, 1917, around 10,000 African Americans marched silently down Fifth Avenue in New York City.

The marchers protested against racial discrimination and violence!

This march even inspired Martin Luther King Jr.’s March in 1963 on Washington!

Du Bois became a citizen of Ghana but didn’t renounce his U.S. citizenship

The fallout from the government of the McCarthy Era was quite serious! Several colleagues of Du Bois started avoiding him. 

Even the government revoked Du Bois’ passport for eight years.

 Hence, after getting it back, in 1961, Du Bois travelled to Ghana to work on an encyclopedia. 

When in 1961, the U.S. government refused to renew his passport, Du Bois became Ghana’s citizen in symbolic protest. 

However, he never formally renounced his U.S. citizenship!

Du Bois’ and his married life

Have you heard this fact about Du Bois?

In 1896, Du Bois married Nina Gomer 👰‍♀️.

They had two children, a son Burghardt and a daughter Yolande. However, their son died as an infant before the birth of their daughter.

Later, Yolande attended Fisk University, like her father.

After the death of Nina, Du Bois married Shirley Graham, a composer, author, playwright, and activist, in 1951. 

Du Bois passed away in his ‘motherland’ Ghana

Death Of Du Bois In Ghana

At the age of 95, Du Bois died⚰️ in Accra, Ghana. He moved there to work on an encyclopedia of the African diaspora!

Where he was buried was turned into the W. E. B. Du Bois Center, which is a small museum dedicated to his time in Ghana!

He moved to Ghana two years earlier than his death in protest of racial injustice!

Summing up

Well….kiddos……how was your fact finding journey?

Did you get to know all that you expected?

Hope so…..as we have tried hard to satisfy your knowledge-hunger.

Waiting to hear from you 😘!!

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