W.E.B. Du Bois
W.E.B. Du Bois
In the period after Reconstruction the position of African Americans in southern American society steadily deteriorated. After 1877 the possibilities of advancements for African Americans disappeared almost completely. African Americans experienced a loss of voting rights and political power created by methods of terrorization such as lynching. The remaining political and economic gains that were made during reconstruction were eventually whittled away by Southern legislation. By the 1900s African Americans had almost no access to political, social, or economic power. Shortly after this Jim Crow laws began to emerge, segregating blacks and whites. This dramatic transition from African American power to powerlessness after reconstruction gave birth to two important leaders in the African American community, Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois.
Few men have influenced the lives of African-Americans as much as William Edward Burghardt (W.E.B.) Dr. Du Bois conducted the initial research on the black experience in the United States. Civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. have referred to Du Bois as a father of the Civil Rights Movement. Du Bois conducted the initial research on the black experience in the United States, and paved the way for the Pan-African and Black Power movements.
Du Bois was born in the western Massachusetts town of Great Barrington. His family roots were French Huguenot on his father’s side and Dutch and African on his mother’s side. His father, Alfred Du Bois, left his family when W.E.B. was a young boy. W.E.B. lived with his mother Sylvina until her death in 1884. This awareness set him apart from his New England community, with an ancestry shrouded in mystery, in sharp contrast to the precisely accounted history of the Western world. This difference would be the foundation for his desire to change the way African-Americans co-existed in America.