A system cannot fail those who it was never meant to protect.
– W.E.B Du Bois
William Edward Burghardt “W. E. B.” Du Bois (pronounced /duːˈbɔɪz/ doo-boyz; February 23, 1868 – August 27, 1963) was an American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, Pan-Africanist, author and editor. Born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Du Bois grew up in a relatively tolerant and integrated community. After graduating from Harvard, where he was the first African American to earn a doctorate, he became a professor of history, sociology and economics at Atlanta University. Du Bois was one of the co-founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909.
Du Bois rose to national prominence as the leader of the Niagara Movement, a group of African-American activists who wanted equal rights for blacks. Du Bois and his supporters opposed the Atlanta Compromise, an agreement crafted by Booker T. Washington which provided that Southern blacks would work and submit to white political rule, while Southern whites guaranteed that blacks would receive basic educational and economic opportunities. Instead, Du Bois insisted on full civil rights and increased political representation, which he believed would be brought about by the African-American intellectual elite. He referred to this group as the talented tenth and believed that African Americans needed the chances for advanced education to develop its leadership.
Racism was the main target of Du Bois’s polemics, and he strongly protested against lynching, Jim Crow laws, and discrimination in education and employment. His cause included colored persons everywhere, particularly Africans and Asians in their struggles against colonialism and imperialism. He was a proponent of Pan-Africanism and helped organize several Pan-African Congresses to free African colonies from European powers. Du Bois made several trips to Europe, Africa and Asia. After World War I, he surveyed the experiences of American black soldiers in France and documented widespread bigotry in the United States military.
Du Bois was a prolific author. His collection of essays, The Souls of Black Folk, was a seminal work in African-American literature; and his 1935 magnum opus Black Reconstruction in America challenged the prevailing orthodoxy that blacks were responsible for the failures of the Reconstruction era. He wrote the first scientific treatise in the field of sociology; and he published three autobiographies, each of which contains insightful essays on sociology, politics and history. In his role as editor of the NAACP’s journal The Crisis, he published many influential pieces. Du Bois believed that capitalism was a primary cause of racism, and he was generally sympathetic to socialist causes throughout his life. He was an ardent peace activist and advocated nuclear disarmament. The United States’ Civil Rights Act, embodying many of the reforms for which Du Bois had campaigned his entire life, was enacted a year after his death.
President OBAMA’s Funniest Quotes
“All this change hasn’t been easy. Change never is. So I’ve cut the tension by bringing a new friend to the White House. He’s warm, he’s cuddly, loyal, enthusiastic. You just have to keep him on a tight leash. Every once in a while he goes charging off in the wrong direction and gets himself into trouble. But enough about Joe Biden.” — 2009 White House Correspondents’ Dinner
“Recently, [Romney’s] campaign criticized me for slow-jamming the news with Jimmy Fallon. In fact, I understand Governor Romney was so incensed he asked his staff if he could get some equal time on ‘The Merv Griffin Show.’” — 2012 White House Correspondents’ Dinner
“Six years into my presidency some people still say I’m arrogant, aloof, condescending. Some people are so dumb.” — 2015 White House Correspondents’ Dinner
“Despite many obstacles, much has changed during my time in office. Four years ago, I was locked in a brutal primary battle with Hillary Clinton. Four years later, she won’t stop drunk-texting me from Cartagena.” — 2012 White House Correspondents’ Dinner
“Rick Santorum announced that he would not attend the same-sex wedding of a friend or loved one, to which gays and lesbians across the country responded, that’s not going to be a problem. Don’t sweat that one.” — 2015 White House Correspondents’ Dinner
“I want to especially thank all the members who took a break from their exhausting schedule of not passing any laws to be here tonight.” — 2012 White House Correspondents’ Dinner
“Dick Cheney was supposed to be here, but he is very busy working on his memoirs, tentatively titled, ‘How to Shoot Friends and Interrogate People.’” — 2009 White House Correspondents’ Dinner
“Now I even let down my key core constituency: movie stars. Just the other day, Matt Damon — I love Matt Damon, love the guy — Matt Damon said he was disappointed in my performance. Well Matt, I just saw the ‘Adjustment Bureau’ so right back at you buddy.” — 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner
“Dick Cheney says I’m the worst president of his lifetime. Which is interesting, because I think Dick Cheney is the worst president of my lifetime. What a coincidence.” — 2015 White House Correspondents’ Dinner
“Mitt Romney — he and I actually have a lot in common. We both think of our wives as our better halves, and polls show, to an alarmingly insulting extent, the American people agree. We also both have degrees from Harvard; I have one, he has two. What a snob.” — 2012 White House Correspondents’ Dinner
“The Jonas Brothers are here. They’re out there somewhere. Sasha and Malia are huge fans. But, boys, don’t get any ideas. I have two words for you — predator drones. You will never see it coming. You think I’m joking.” — 2010 White House Correspondents’ Dinner
“Anyway, it’s great to be here this evening in the vast, magnificent Hilton ballroom — or what Mitt Romney would call a little fixer-upper.” — 2012 White House Correspondents’ Dinner
“Our chaperone for the evening is Jimmy Kimmel who is perfect for the job since most of tonight’s audience is in his key demographic — people who fall asleep during Nightline.” — 2012 White House Correspondents’ Dinner
“If I had to name my greatest strength, I guess it would be my humility. Greatest weakness, it’s possible that I’m a little too awesome.” —2008 Al Smith Dinner
“The White House Correspondents’ Dinner is known as the prom of Washington D.C. — a term coined by political reporters who clearly never had the chance to go to an actual prom.” — 2012 White House Correspondents’ Dinner
“What a week. As some of you heard, the state of Hawaii released my official long-form birth certificate. Hopefully, this puts all doubts to rest. But just in case they’re any lingering questions, tonight I’m prepared to go a step further. Tonight, for the first time, I am releasing my official birth video.” — 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner