Friday, June 22, 2018

*Review* The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois

Genre: Nonfiction
Published: 1903
Pages: 288

This landmark book is a founding work in the literature of black protest. W. E. B. Du Bois (1868–1963) played a key role in developing the strategy and program that dominated early 20th-century black protest in America. In this collection of essays, first published together in 1903, he eloquently affirms that it is beneath the dignity of a human being to beg for those rights that belong inherently to all mankind. He also charges that the strategy of accommodation to white supremacy advanced by Booker T. Washington, then the most influential black leader in America, would only serve to perpetuate black oppression.

Publication of The Souls of Black Folk was a dramatic event that helped to polarize black leaders into two groups: the more conservative followers of Washington and the more radical supporters of aggressive protest. Its influence cannot be overstated. It is essential reading for everyone interested in African-American history and the struggle for civil rights in America.

I listened to the audiobook version of this book. While I was listening to this book, I couldn't help but compare it to my experience listening to Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington (especially when Du Bois started talking about Washington). This book sort of affirmed some of the issues I had while listening to Washington's book and made me feel less guilty for having those feelings. I certainly didn't have to expend as much energy rationalizing the thoughts and opinions stated in Du Bois' book as I did with Washington's.

Aside from my feelings of vindication, I don't remember a lot of specifics about this book. I could certainly make some assumptions about them based on my personal beliefs and political leanings, but that would be a bad strategy to follow I think. So what I will say is that I think this book, in connection with Up From Slavery is good for giving broad perspective of the lives of black people in American after slavery was abolished. Like me you will probably relate to one more than the other, but they both definitely have merit.

Overall I give The Souls of Black Folk 5.00032 stars. - Katie 

W. E. B. Du Bois (1868-1963) was an American sociologist, civil rights activist, and author. A strong advocate of Pan-Africanism, he was the first black man to earn a doctorate from Harvard University and cofounded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). His best-known book, The Souls of Black Folk, is widely considered to be one of the most important works in African American literature.

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