Today in History: W. E. B. Du Bois

Du Bois

Today is the birthday of W. E. B. Du Bois who was born February 23, 1868 and died August 27, 1963. Du Bois was an activist, author, intellectual and co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He wrote many books, including The Souls of Black Folk (1903).

Below is an excerpt of a lecture, 'Socialism and the American Negro' delivered by Du Bois, to an audience in Great Hall, Madison Wisconsin Memorial Union, in 1960.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, Socialism and the American Negro. Democracy has so disappeared in the United States that there are some subjects that cannot even be discussed. The essence of the democratic process is free discussion..."

"...I was criticized as being bitter, as seeking not simply political, but social equality for Negroes, for favoring the teaching of Karl Marx, and for joining the Socialist Party. These accusations were true. But largely as a result of my work and the work of others, the Negro made progress toward equal citizenship..."

Recorded by Lee Baxandall. Issued by Folkway records in 1972.

For more information, visit the Smithsonian Folkways's web site.

Thanks to Andy Lanset, WNYC Archives