Undoubtedly the most influential black intellectual of the twentieth century and one of America’s finest historians, W.E.B. Du Bois knew that the liberation of African Americans required liberal education and not vocational training. He saw education as a process of teaching certain timeless values: moderation, an avoidance of luxury, a concern for courtesy, a capacity to endure, a nurturing love for beauty. At the same time, Du Bois saw education as fundamentally subversive. This was as much a function of the well-established role of education—from Plato forward—as the realities of the social order under which he lived. He insistently calls for great energy and initiative; for African Americans controlling their own lives and for continued experimentation and innovation, while keeping education’s fundamentally radical nature in view.
Taken together, these ten essays cover half a century during which the social, political, and technological transformations were unparalleled by any in recorded history. And while Du Bois reflects these changes, certain constants persist: a demand for excellence, sacrifice, and a life of service; and an insistence that while such a life will bring hardships and temptations, it will also bring fulfillment. In Du Bois’s view, only with such a life will one truly live. In this affirmation, there runs a particular feeling that the history of African Americans has profoundly influenced their ideas about service, of compassion, of justice.
Though containing speeches written nearly one-hundred years ago, and on a subject that has seen more stormy debate and demagoguery than almost any other in recent history, The Education of Black People approaches education with a timelessness and timeliness, at once rooted in classical thought that reflects a remarkably fresh and contemporary relevance.
New Foreword by Herbert Aptheker
- The Hampton Idea (1906)
- Galileo Galilei (1908)
- The College-Bred Community (1910)
- Diuturni Silenti (1924)
- Education and Work (1930)
- The Field and Function of the Negro College (1933)
- The Revelation of Saint Orgne the Damned (1938)
- Editor’s Note
- The Future of the Negro State University (1941)
- The Future and Function of the Private Negro College (1946)
- Whither Now and Why (1960)