W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963): The first black man to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard University, this prolific writer and influential leader documented the oppression of black people in “The Souls of Black Folk,” published in 1903. He helped found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
“Du Bois made some profound observations about the impact of race in America that have proven to be more than prophetic. One of those observations, of course, was the often-repeated quote that the problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color line. Even as we have entered the 21st century, we find that he was correct: Race remains one of this country’s most vexing and intractable challenges. Another observation that Du Bois made is just as intriguing. He said that because of the omnipresence of race in our reality, African-Americans would never be able to attain true self-consciousness. Again, as we see that black Americans are compelled to define themselves in relation to whiteness, it’s clear that Du Bois was on the mark. I find it fascinating that this man could foresee the lasting impact of race, even a century beyond his time.” NATHAN McCALL Author of “Makes Me Wanna Holler: A Young Black Man in America” On ajc.com/living, read this series as it develops. ME:During Black History Month, we’re asking people in metro Atlanta, “If you could meet an important figure from black history, distant or recent, whom would it be, and why?” Their responses will run on weekdays throughout February.