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W.E.B Du Bois: A Way Of Life

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David Levering Lewis’s autobiography titled A Biography W.E.B Du Bios doesn’t seem intriguing, but the book is engrossing and informative.

In A Biography W.E.B Du Bios: David Levering Lewis starts were Du Bois spent most of his late years in Ghana before his death in 1963. Levering Lewis goes on to explain Du Bois’s childhood days growing up in Massachusetts where he attended primary schools until he attended Fisk and Harvard University. Lewis explained how Du Bois wrote a study about African Americans living in the City of Philadelphia for the Philadelphia Negro. After living in Philadelphia, PA, Du Bois then went on to teach at Atlanta University where he witnessed racial discrimination in the south.

This is when Lewis explained the clash between Du Bois and Booker T. Washington of how African Americans should seek meaningful equality among whites. During his life W.E.B Dubois wrote a book called the Souls of Black Folk, Du Bois also went to co-found the Niagara Movement a to fight racial discrimination and segregation. Which was the overture[footnoteRef:1] to the founding of the N.A.A.C.P [1: Lewis,1-4]

Toward the end of A Biography W.E.B Du Bios: Levering Lewis went to explain how Du Bois went to many countries to voice his concern about African descent before settling in Ghana toward the end of his life.

In 1963 Roy Wilkinson an executive member of N.A.A.C.P People informed the news of W.E.B Du Bois’s passing in Washington D.C by saying “the bearer of news of solem and great significance. Dr. Du Bois was dead.” everybody was in shock. As the members of (NAACP) asked for a moment of silence. This showed how Du Bois meant to his supporters dating back to the early twentieth century. On August 29, 1963 seven days after African Americans throughout the United States mourned the passing of W.E.B Du Bois, citizens in Ghana celebrated with a state funeral. Ghanaian’s took Du Bois body to a tomb outside the walls of the Osu Castle where Du Bois was laid to rest. Because of this, Du Bois’s burial in Ghana symbolized the return to the home of his ancestors.[footnoteRef:2] [2: Lewis,1-6]

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David Levering Lewis goes on to explain about W.E.B Du Bois’s childhood life living in Great Barrington, Massachusetts; starting with Du Bois birth in February of 1868. Just wo years into his childhood, Du Bois’s mother Mary Silvinia left Du Bois’s father Alfred Du Bois. While growing up in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Du Bois has nicknamed Willie by the townspeople, and he spent most of his education going to primary school along with whites, that were English and Dutch descendants.[footnoteRef:3] [3: Lewis, 35-40]

[bookmark: OLE_LINK3][bookmark: OLE_LINK4]When Du Bois was twelve years old he had many hardships because his mother was a widow while Du Bois was obligated to work between going to school and making friends. According to Lewis Du Bois entered school Later in W.E.D Du Bois adult life he would credit his childhood living in Great Barrington, in Massachusetts. Such as writing about his experience in Massachusetts in his adult life.

When Du Bois was 16 years old he graduated from his high school he attended in Great Barrington Massachusetts, being the first African American to do so. After graduating high school W.E.B Du Bois attended Fisk University in Tennessee, which was formerly named Fisk Free Colored School, where he experienced racial segregation for the first time. When Du Bois was at Fisk, former African American slaves were attending college for the first time.

W.E.B Du Bois went to graduate from Fisk University in 1887, where he earned his bachelor’s degree. After his time at Fisk Du Bois went on to earn his PH. D at Harvard College is the first African American to achieve the degree. After graduating from Harvard College, Lewis then explained Du Bois’s tenure at the Philadelphia Negro when Du Bois’s boss feminist Susan P. Wharton, told W.E.B Du Bois to go through with a study of the Negro population also with many institutions in Philadelphia by his side.

By doing so, Du Bois began writing a study based alongside many institutions in order to find out the results of African Americans living in Philadelphia, PA. Alongside Susan P. Wharton, Du Bois found may viruses throughout the African American community that was known as the “Black Plague”[footnoteRef:4] according to Barbara Lindsay. The research Du Bois and his colleagues were doing was dangerous because the work involved eugenics. After working for the Philadelphia Negro, W.E.B Du Bois moved on to teach at Atlanta University in the mid-1890s. Where he witnessed racial discrimination when the Georgia Legislature demanded that African Americans and whites should not eat together in the cafeteria. [4: Lewis, 133]

During his time in Atlanta, Ga W.E.B Du Bois would meet his future nemesis Booker T. Washington the head of the Tuskegee Institute in Atlanta Ga. While Atlanta Du Bois supported Washington when gave a speech in front of wealthy whites on how to seek racial equality. After the speech, Du Bois continued to support Booker T. Washington in the fight but that changed, in 1903 when W.E.B Du Bois wrote a book called The Souls of Black Folk where he criticized, his former supporter. Later in Du Bois’s life he went on to form the Niagara movement after Booker T. Washington died in 1905.


  1. Lewis, David L. “David Levering Lewis’s Biography.” The History Makers, 2020.


  1. Lewis, David L. 2009. W.E.B. Du Bois: a biography. New York: Henry Holt and Co.

Book Review

  1. Weekly, Publisher. Book Review: W.E.B. DuBois by David Levering Lewis,
  2. Rutten, Tim. A Big Idea Trounces History. Los Angeles Times, January 23, 2008.

Historiographical Essay

  1. Couvares, Francis G. Interpretations of American History. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2009.

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