HAPPY BIRTHDAY, W.E.B. DU BOIS! The wonderful philosopher, writer, activist was born 145 years ago today, 2/23/13. W.E.B. Du Bois was a fascinating intellectual. Imagine his hometown of Great Barrington, Mass., taking up a collection to send him to Fisk University in Nasville in the 19th Century!!!!! Du Bois had much criticism concerning how Blacks were treated in his country and he sometimes butted heads with people like Booker T. Washington who founded the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, more of a training center for Blacks than a college. Du Bois believed in rigorous education to fight racism. Both men believed in their people and wanted equality for all. Du Bois helped found the NAACP, which evolved out of “The Niagara Movement.” Du Bois was the first African American to receive a degree from Harvard with a B.A. Cum Laude in History. I remember reading and admiring Du Bois as a teenager and that admiration has never ceased. Du Bois lived his last few years in Ghana as a citizen of Ghana and he died there.
***Just an added note: Last June, 2012, I read You Need a SchoolHouse by Stephanie Deutsch who is married to the great-grandson of businessman/philanthropist, Julius Rosenwald noted for his generosity in founding the Rosenwald Schools throughout the U.S. to give Black children an educational opportunity in a time when good education, among many other things, was denied to them. Mr. Rosenwald founded
Sears, Roebuck & Co. Rosenwald said: “Treat people fairly and honestly and generously and their response will be fair and honest and generous.”
He became fast friends and partners with Booker T. Washington. It is a book worth reading.
All three men, Du Bois, Washington & Rosenwald still have much to teach us about human potential and the innate desire for learning. Who among us does not want to excel?
Tuskegee Institute Rosenwald & Washington