The Souls of Black Folk

W. E. B. Du Bois was able to cover a large amount of racial issues in the South within The Souls of Black Folk. Some of his opinions were very interesting, including the “Talented Tenth”. This aspect I found to be radical, though I believe it was a theory that could potentially work to be true. Du Bois actively understood that black men were being educated directly to understand how to make money. While it may be demeaning to deem 90% of the black population as inept of being educated, it look for the overall increase in success of Blacks. The people that were being educated by the tenth would no longer be stuck in the vicious cycle of sharecropping, which Du Bois argued to just be an extension of slavery.

I found it interesting that Du Bois went against the political ideals of Booker T. Washington. In this time, when Black politics was suppressed, I would have expected that ideals would try to stay aligned amongst leaders as much as possible. Du Bois even went as far as to call the election of Booker T. Washington to role of the ‘spokesman of the race’. The main issues that Du Bois seemed to have with Washington was his acceptance of race, segregation, and many other racial issues.

Finally, I think the poems that started off each chapter are very important while reading Du Bois’s work. It appropriately sets the mood of the book, and each chapter individually. Du Bois saw all of these hardships in his life, and wanted to show his readers the sorrows and mood that came along with it. The lyrics were able to promote those feelings and lead his audience down a path that emphasized the sorrows.

One thought on “The Souls of Black Folk

  1. I was also surprised to find that Du Bois and Washington differed so greatly in their proposed solutions to the troubles facing southern blacks despite being the two leading civil rights activists of the time. I think if they were united in their goals, the push for equality would have been that much stronger. However, Du Bois clearly believed Washington’s plan was a step in the wrong direction. By submitting to white rule, the social status of blacks would revert back to something resembling pre-Civil War America.

    When Du Bois discusses the ‘Talented Tenth’ I don’t think he necessarily views the other 90% of the black population as being incapable of being educated. Rather, I think of the “tenth” that he refers to as being the leading class of African Americans. One of the major points that Du Bois stresses throughout “The Souls of Black Folk” is the need for a systematic schooling of the black population, with higher education being the first priority. He explains that by educating college students first, it will provide the rest of the community with a group of teachers/leaders than can train other blacks. This training includes making them more cultured and giving them a better work ethic.

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