The basics of social research 6th edition
The dispute lasted for more than a year between itinerant black farmer Sam Hose and his wealthy white employer, Alfred Cranford. Hose requesting his wages. Cranford refusing to pay up. On April 12, , Cranford aimed murderous threats and his loaded gun at Hose. Hose grabbed a nearby ax, threw it at Cranford, and ran into the Georgia wilderness. The murder-rape story was a lie, but Jim Crow had flown on the winds of lies for decades.
In reality, Wilmington was one of the few places where black majorities ruled democratically in the post—Reconstruction South. All year long, elite white Democrats had been organizing for regime change. As many as sixty black people died in the first successful armed overthrow of a city government in U. Du Bois did not have a juddering front-row seat at the Wilmington massacre. But he was keenly aware of the racial tensions in Georgia in , tensions that boiled over in August, when armed blacks drove back a lynch mob in McIntosh County.
He knew as well as anyone how difficult it was to hold off lynch mobs mobilized by lies. No lie circulated as far and wide over space and time as the original racist one that prefigured the Negro a beast.
A beast could be traded and enslaved. A beast should be segregated and lynched. A beast cannot stop raping and killing. A beast could be subdued by only a mob or a jail cell. A beast so brutal even trained police officers fear for their lives. The Negro a beast. It is difficult to comprehend how daring it was for W. Du Bois to publish the most acclaimed book of his career in the face of this avalanche of beastly labels rushing down onto the Negro.
Du Bois stared into the grisly faces of the racist past and present and decreed that blacks were not soulless beasts. And we can hear in the book the strivings in the soul of Du Bois as much as we can hear the strivings in the souls of other black folk. We learn of his ideological problem with Booker T. Many buried their firstborns in the cemetery of s racism.
Many believed slavery had destroyed morality. Many looked up to the Talented Tenth. Many knew about those rural schoolhouses. Many had problems with Booker T. Like all souls, it is poetic, and The Souls of Black Folk speaks to humanity like one long poem.
The Veil separated black folk from white folk. Within it, black folk endured racism, exploitation, and heartache that white people did not see, or did not want to see. The Veil doubled as both the oppression and the mirror of oppression. But the mirror—the Veil—could really be seen only by black people.
Black folk could see the freedoms white people enjoyed outside of the Veil. White folk struggled to see the slaveries black folk recoiled from within the Veil. Du Bois could not let the murder-rape lie about Sam Hose live another day.
Sometime around April 23, , he composed a restrained letter that laid out the facts of the case. But the red light of lynching news stopped Du Bois. He learned that Hose had been captured, on April The flesh on his face was skinned off. Some people fought over his body parts; the rest watched his body hanging from a tree and being burned alive.
Instead he turned back to campus in disgust. After that public tragedy in April came a private one, in May. The infection became severe, and Du Bois searched in vain for medical care.
Within ten days, Burghardt died, on May 24, After laying his son to rest, Du Bois laid to rest his own detached scholarly identity and headed down a path that would lead to The Souls of Black Folk. It was a path paved with crisis—the crisis of American democracy. But he did not neglect sending essays to scholarly or more specialized publications, like Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science and New World.
And in the past few years, essay collections have returned to popularity. Nine of the fourteen essays in The Souls of Black Folk were first published between and White gave his farewell address to Congress.
Washington saw racial progress at every turn and wrote of having faith in God, taking personal responsibility, working mightily hard, and overcoming incredible hardship.
With the publication of Up from Slavery in February , Washington was at the height of his career. Praise and donations rained down on him while Du Bois was starving for funding and praise. As Du Bois looked up at the lonely Washington on the white pedestal of black leadership, it had all become too much for him to bear in silence. Booker T. For years, the biracial William Hannibal Thomas had worked as a preacher, teacher, journalist, and politician to eliminate racial distinctions and to be accepted by white people.
Nothing had worked. And so he turned to the pen, pleading furiously for white acceptance in one of the most furious attacks on black people in history. The fourteen essays in The Souls of Black Folk reinforced this idea. It would be a few decades before he would renounce this thinking. What has made this concept so enduringly popular among black people for more than a century after the publication of Souls?
Du Bois met many black people where many of them were, and where many have remained—at the warring crossroads between assimilationist and antiracist ideas. In his mind, this double desire, this double consciousness, yielded an inner strife between pride in equal blackness and assimilation into superior whiteness, and an outer strife from the Veil of American racism denying both.
Du Bois emphasizes education and character for entry into the Talented Tenth. He described their spirituals, their religion, their economic lives, but he did not equalize the souls of the mass of black folk. Before he died, though, he did. In my youth and idealism, I did not realize that selfishness is ever more natural than sacrifice. And the accommodators instantly knew it in The Tuskegee Machine tried to suppress it, to no avail.
Du Bois lived another sixty years after the publication of Souls , dying in , on the eve of the March on Washington. He did not bare his soul and then devour the acclaim, trash the criticism, and close the door on his thinking. He evolved as black thought evolved over the course of the twentieth century. Or did black thought evolve as he evolved? We should remember Souls not only as the poetry that so many black folk could relate to in , like the spirituals they often sang in church, but also as the foundation on which Du Bois built a lifetime of ideas, and on which the black and antiracist intelligentsia continues to build today.
But looking at our drear days when human unity remains a farce, his prayers have yet to be answered. Du Bois could not save Sam Hose from the noose. He could not prevent the death of his firstborn. But with the poetry of Souls , we should never forget his courageous rescue of black folk from the Veil of the beast.
Ibram X. DuBois, published by Penguin Classics. Remember Me. By Ibram X. Du Bois.