dubois - The Souls of Black Folk (1903) W. E. B. Du Bois...

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Unformatted text preview: The Souls of Black Folk (1903) W. E. B. Du Bois THE FORETHOUGHT l-lerein lie buried many things which if read with patience may show the strange meaning of being black here in the dawning of the Twentieth Century. This meaning is not without interest to you. Gentle Reader; for the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color—line. I pray you. then. receive my little book in all charity. studying my words with me. forgiv— ing mistake and foible for sake of the faith and passion that is in me. and seeking the grain of truth hidden there. 1 have sought here to sketch. in vague. uncertain outline. the spiritual world in which ten thousand thousand Americans live and strive. First. in two chapters 1 have tried to show what Emancipation meant to them. and what was its aftermath. ln a third chapter 1 have pointed out the slow rise of personal leadership. and criticised candidly the leader who bears the chief burden of his race t0» day. Then. in two other chapters 1 have sketched in swit‘t outline the two worlds within and without the. Veil. and thus have come to the central problem of training men tor llfe. Venturing now into deeper detail. I have in two chapters studied the struggles of the massed millions of the black peasantry. and in another have sought to make clear the present relations of the sons of master and man. , Leaving. then. the world of the white man. I have stepped within the Veil. raising it that you may view faintly Wétfesses.~the meaning of its religion. the passion of its human sorrow, and the struggle of its greater souls, All this I have ended with a tale twice told but seldom written . . . Before each chapter. as now printed. stands a bar of the Son‘ow Songs—some echo of haunt— ing melody from the only American music which welled up from black souls in the dark Source: W. E. B, Du Bois. The Souls ()fBlat'k Folk. New York: Penguin. 1989. Original work published in 1903. 326 ‘3' SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY IN THE CLASSICAL ERA past. And, finally, need I add that I who speak here am bone of the bone and flesh of the flesh of them that live within the Veil? OF OUR SPIRITUAL STRIVINGS Between me and the other world there is ever an unasked question: unasked by some through feelings of delicacy; by others through the difficulty of rightly framing it. All, neverthe— less, flutter round it. They approach me in a half-hesitant sort of way, eye me curiously or compassionately, and then. instead of saying directly, How does it feel to be a problem? they say, I know an excellent colored man in my town; or, I fought at Mechanicsville; or, Do not these Southern outrages make your blood boil? At these I smile, or am interested, or reduce the boiling to a simmer, as the occasion may require. To the real question. How does it feel to be a problem? I answer seldom a word. And yet. being a problem is a strange experience,-—peculiar even for one who has never been anything else, save perhaps in baby— hood and in Europe. It is in the early days of rollicking boyhood that the revelation first bursts upon one, all in a day, as it were. I remem— ber well when the shadow swept across me. Iwas a little thing, away up in the hills of New England, where the dark Housatonic winds between Hoosac and Taghkanic to the sea. In a wee wooden schoolhouse, something put it into the boys” and girls” heads to buy gor— geous visiting-cards—ten cents a package—and exchange. The exchange was merry, till one ' girl, a tall newcomer, refused my card,—refused it peremptorily, with a glance. Then it dawned upon me with a certain suddenness that I was different from the others; or like. mayhap, in heart and life and longing. but shut out from their world by a vast veil. I had thereafter no desire to tear down that veil, to creep through; I held all beyond it in common contempt, and lived above it in a region of blue sky and great wandering shadows. That sky was bluest when I could beat my mates at examination-time, or beat them at a foot—race, or even beat their stringy heads. Alas, with the years all this fine contempt began to fade; for the worlds I longed for, and all their dazzling opportunities, were theirs, not mine. But they should not keep these prizes, I said; some, all, I would wrest from them. Just how I would do it I could never decide: by reading law, by healing the sick, by telling the wonderful tales that swam in my head,—some way. With other black boys the strife was not so fiercely sunny: their youth shrunk into tasteless sycophancy, or into silent hatred of the pale world about them and mocking distrust of everything white; or wasted itself in a bitter cry, Why did God make me an outcast and a stranger in mine own house? The shades of the prisonvhouse closed round about us all: walls strait and stubborn to the whitest, but relentlessly narrow, tall, and unscal- able to sons of night who must plod darkly on in resignation, or beat unavailing palms against the stone, or steadily, half hopelessly, watch the streak of blue above. After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world,—a world which yields him no true self—conscious- ness. but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sen- sation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unrecon- ciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder. The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife—this longing to attain self- conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost. He would not Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa. He would not bleach his Negro soul in a flood of white Americanism, for he knows that Negro blood has a message for the world. He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American, without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of Opportunity closed roughly in his face. This, then, is the end of his striving: to be a co-worker in the kingdom of culture, to escape both death and isolation, to husband and use his best powers and his latent genius. These powers of body and mind have in the past been strangely wasted, dispersed, or forgotten. The shadow of a mighty Negro past flits through the tale of Ethiopia the Shadowy and of Egypt the Sphinx. Throughout history, the powers of single black men flash here and there like falling stars, and die sometimes before the world has rightly gauged their brightness. Here in America. in the few days since Emancipation. the black man’s turning hither and thither in hesitant and doubt- ful striving has often made his very strength to lose effectiveness. to seem like absence of power, like weakness. And yet it is not weakness.——it is the contradiction of double aims. The double— aimed struggle of the black artisan—on the one hand to escape white contempt for a nation of mere hewers of wood and drawers of water, and on the other hand to plough and nail and dig for a poverty—stricken horde—ficould only result in making him a poor craftsman. for he had but half a heart in either cause. By the poverty and igno- rance of his people, the Negro minister or doctor was tempted toward quackery and demagog ; and by the criticism of the other world, toward ideals that made him ashamed of his lowly tasks. The would-be black savam was confronted by the paradox that the knowledge his people needed was a twice-told tale to his white neigh— bors, while the knowledge which would teach the white world was Greek to his own flesh and blood. The innate love of harmony and beauty that set the ruder souls of his people a—dancing and a—singing raised but confusion and doubt in the soul of the black artist; for the beauty revealed to him was the soul-beauty of a race which his larger audience despised, and he could not articulate the message of another people. This waste of double aims, this seeking to satisfy two unreconciled ideals, has wrouglit sad havoc with the courage and faith and deeds of ten thou— sand thousand people—has sent them often wooing false gods and invoking false means of salvation, and at times has even seemed about to make them ashamed of themselves. Away back in the days of bondage they thought to see in one divine event the end of all doubt and disappointment; few men ever wor- shipped Freedom with half such unquestioning faith as did the American Negro for two cen- turies. To him, so far as he thought and dreamed, —¢.___+—————————-——‘ W. E. B. Du Bois '2‘ 327 slavery was indeed the sum of all villainies, the cause of all sorrow, the root of all prejudice; Emancipation was the key to a promised land of sweeter beauty than ever stretched before the eyes of wearied Israelites. ln song and exhorta— tion swelled one refrain—Liberty; in his tears and curses the God he implored had Freedom in his right hand. At last it came,—suddenly, fear— fully, like a dream. With one wild carnival of blood and passion came the message in his own plaintive cadences:— “Shout, 0 children! Shout, you’re free! For God has bought your liberty!” Years have passed away since them—ten, twenty, forty; forty years of national life, forty years of renewal and development, and yet the swarthy spectre sits in its accustomed seat at the Nation’s feast. In vain do we cry to this our vastest social problem:— “Take any shape but that, and my firm nerves Shall never tremble!” The Nation has not yet found peace from its sins; the freedman has not yet found in freedom his promised land. Whatever of good may have come in these years of change, the shadow of a deep disappointment rests upon the Negro people,—a disappointment all the more bitter because the unattained ideal was unbounded save by the simple ignorance of a lowly people. The first decade was merely a prolongation of the vain search for freedom, the boon that seemed ever barely to elude their grasp,—like a tanta- lizing will-0’-the—wisp, maddening and mislead- ing the headless host. The holocaust of war, the terrors of the Ku-Klux Klan, the lies of carpet— baggers, the disorganization of industry, and the contradictory advice of friends and foes, left the bewildered serf with no new watch—word beyond the old cry for freedom. As the time flew, how- ever, he began to grasp a new idea, The ideal of liberty demanded for its attainment powerful means, and these the Fifteenth Amendment gave him. The ballot, which before he had looked upon as a visible sign of freedom, he now regarded as the chief means of gaining and perfecting the liberty with which war had partially endowed him. And why not? Had not votes made War Lg,m_zw_ ., . .._.. 328 '2' SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY IN THE CLASSICAL ERA and emancipated millions? Had not votes enfranchised the freedmen? Was anything impos— sible to a power that had done all this? A million black men started with renewed zeal to vote themselves into the kingdom. So the decade flew away, the revolution of 1876 came, and left the half-free serf weary, wondering, but still inspired. Slowly but steadily, in the following years, a new vision began gradually to replace the dream of political power,—~a powerful movement, the rise of another ideal to guide the unguided, another pillar of fire by night after a clouded day. It was the ideal of “book—leaming”; the curiosity, born of compulsory ignorance, to know and test the power of the cabalistic letters of the white man, the longing to know. Here at last seemed to have been discovered the mountain path to Canaan; longer than the highway of Emancipation and law, steep and rugged, but straight, leading to heights high enough to overlook life. Up the new path the advance guard toiled, slowly, heavily, doggedly; only those who have watched and guided the faltering feet, the misty minds, the dull understandings, of the dark pupils of these schools know how faithfully, how piteously, this people strove to learn, It was weary work. The cold statistician wrote down the inches of progress here and there, noted also where here and there a foot had slipped or some one had fallen. To the tired climbers, the horizon was ever dark, the mists were often cold, the Canaan was always dim and far away. If, however, the vistas disclosed as yet no goal, no resting—place, little but flattery and criticism, the journey at least gave leisure for reflection and self-examination; it changed the child of Emancipation to the youth with dawning self- consciousness, self—realization, self-respect. In those sombre forests of his striving his own soul rose before him, and he saw himself,—darkly as through a veil; and yet he saw in himself some faint revelation of his power, of his mission. He began to have a dim feeling that, to attain his place in the world, he must be himself, and not another. For the first time he sought to analyze the burden he bore upon his back, that dead- weight of social degradation partially masked behind a half-named Negro problem. He felt his poverty; without a cent, without a home, with- out land, tools, or savings, he had entered into competition with rich, landed, skilled neighbors. To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor mm in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hard~ ships. He felt the weight of his ignorance,\not simply of letters, but of life, of business, of the humanities; the accumulated sloth and shirking and awkwardness of decades and centurieS shackled his hands and feet. Nor was his burden all poverty and ignorance. The red stain of bas_ tardy, which two centuries of systematic legal defilement of Negro women had stamped upon his race, meant not only the loss of ancient African chastity, but also the hereditary weight of a mass of corruption from white adulterers, threatening almost the obliteration of the Negro home. A people thus handicapped ought not to be asked to race with the world, but rather allowed to give all its time and thought to its own social problems. But alas! while sociologists gleefully count his bastards and his prostitutes, the very soul of the toiling, sweating black man is dark- ened by the shadow of a vast despair. Men call the shadow prejudice, and learnedly explain it as the natural defence of culture against barbarism, learning against ignorance, purity against crime, the “higher” against the “lower” races. To which the Negro cries Amen! and swears that to so much of this strange prejudice as is founded on just homage to civilization, culture, righteous- ness, and progress, he humbly bows and meekly does obeisance. But before that nameless prej- udice that leaps beyond all this he stands help— less, dismayed, and well~nigh speechless; before that personal disrespect and mockery, the ridicule and systematic humiliation, the dis— tortion of fact and wanton license of fancy, the cynical ignoring of the better and the boisterous welcoming of the worse, the all—pervading desire to inculcate disdain for everything black. from Toussaint to the devil,——before this there rises a sickening despair that would disarm and dis- courage any nation save that black host to whom “discouragement” is an unwritten word. But the facing of so vast a prejudice could not but bring the inevitable self—questioning, self- disparagement, and lowering of ideals which ever accompany repression and breed in an atmos— phere of contempt and hate. Whisperings and portents came borne upon the four winds: Lo! we are diseased and dying, cried the dark hosts; we cannot write, our voting is vain; what need of education, since we must always cook and serve? And the Nation echoed and enforced this self-criticism, saying: Be content to be servants, and nothing more; what need of higher culture for half—men? Away with the black man’s ballot, by force or fraud—and behold the suicide of a race! Nevertheless, out of the evil came some- thing of good—the more careful adjustment of education to real life, the clearer perception of the Negroes’ social responsibilities, and the sobering realization of the meaning of progress. So dawned the time of Sturm und Drang: storm and stress today rocks our little boat on the mad waters of the world-sea; there is within and without the sound of conflict, the burning of body and rending of soul; inspiration strives with doubt, and faith with vain questionings. The bright ideals of the past,flphysical free- dom, political power, the training of brains and the training of hands,——all these in turn have waxed and waned, until even the last grows dim and overcast. Are they all wrong—all false? No, not that, but each alone was oversimple and incomplete,—the dreams of a credulous race- childhood, or the fond imaginings of the other world which does not know and does not want to know our power. To be really true, all these ideals must be melted and welded into one. The training of the schools we need to-day more than even—the training of deft hands, quick eyes and ears, and above all the broader, deeper, higher culture of gifted minds and pure hearts. The power of the ballot we need in sheer self-defence,—else what shall save us from a second slavery? Freedom, too, the long—sought, we still seek,—the freedom of life and limb, the freedom to work and think, the freedom to love and aspire. Work, culture, liberty,——all these we need. not singly but together, not successively but together, each growing and aiding each, and all striving toward that vaster ideal that swims before the Negro people, the ideal of human brotherhood, gained through the unifying ideal of Race; the ideal of fostering and develop- ing the traits and talents of the Negro, not in opposition to or contempt for other races, but rather in large conformity to the greater ideals of the American Republic, in order that some day on American soil two world—races may give each to each those characteristics both so sadly lack. We the darker ones come even now not W. E. B. Du Bois '3' 329 altogether empty—handed: there are to-day no truer exponents of the pure human spirit of the Declaration of Independence than the American Negroes; there is no true American music but the wild SWeet melodies of the Negro slave; the American fairy tales and folklore are Indian and African; and, all in all, we black men seem the sole oasis of simple faith and reverence in a dusty desert of dollars and smartness. Will America be poorer if she replace her brutal dys- peptic blundering with light-hearted but deter- mined Negro humility? or her coarse and cruel wit with loving jovial good-humor? or her vul— gar music with the soul of the Sorrow Songs? Merely a concrete test of the underlying principles of the great republic is the Negro Problem, and the spiritual striving of the freed- men’s sons is the travail of souls whose burden is almost beyond the measure of their strength, but who bear it in the name of an historic race, in the name of this the land of their fathers’ fathers, and in the name of human opportunity. And now what I have briefly sketched in large outline let me on coming pages tell again in many ways, with loving emphasis and deeper detail, that men may listen to the striving in the souls of black folk. OF THE DAWN OF FREEDOM The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color—line,—the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea. It was a phase of this problem that caused the Civil War; and however much they who marched South and North in 1861 may have fixed on the technical points of union and local autonomy as a Shibboleth, all nevertheless knew, as we know, that the question of Negro slavery was the real cause of the conflict. Curious it was, too, how this deeper question ever forced itself to the surface despite effort and dis— claimer. No sooner had Northern armies touched Southern soil than this old question, newly guised, sprang from the earth,——What shall be done with Negroes? Peremptory mili— tary commands, this way and that, could not answer the query; the Emancipation Procla— mation seemed but to broaden and intensify the 330 0:0 SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY IN THE CLASSICAL ERA difficulties; and the War Amendments made the Negro problems of to-day. . . . The passing of a great human institution before its work is done, like the untimely passing of a single soul, but leaves a legacy of striving for other men. The legacy of the Freedmen’s Bureau is the heavy heritage of this generation. To-day, when new and vaster prob— lems are destined to strain every fibre of the national mind and soul, would it not be well to count this legacy honestly and carefully? For this much all men know: despite compromise, war, and struggle, the Negro is not free. In the backwoods of the Gulf States, for miles and miles, he may not leave the plantation of his birth; in well—nigh the whole rural South the black farmers are peons, bound by law and cus— tom to an economic slavery, from which the only escape is death or the penitentiary. In the most cultured sections and cities of the South the Negroes are a segregated servile caste, with restricted rights and privileges. Before the courts, both in law and custom, they stand on a different and peculiar basis. Taxation without representation is the rule of their political life. And the result of all this is, and in nature must have been, lawlessness and crime. That is the large legacy of the Freedmen’s Bureau, the work it did not do because it could not. I have seen a land right merry with the sun, where children sing, and rolling hills lie like passioned women wanton with harvest. And there in the King’s Highway sat and sits a figure veiled and bowed, by which the traveller’s foot- steps hasten as they go. On the tainted air broods fear. Three centuries’ thought has been the rais— ing and unveiling of that bowed human heart, and now behold a century new for the duty and the deed. The problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color—line. OF MR. BOOKER T. WASHINGTON AND OTHERS Easily the most striking thing in the history of the American Negro since 1876 is the ascen— dancy of Mr. Booker T. Washington. It began at the time when war memories and ideals were rapidly passing; a day of astonishing com— mercial development was dawning; a sense of doubt and hesitation overtook the freedmen’s sons,—then it was that his leading began‘ Mr. Washington came, with a simple definite programme, at the psychological moment when the nation was a little ashamed of having bestowed so much sentiment on NegroeS, and was concentrating its energies on Dollars. His programme of industrial education, conciliation of the South, and submission and silence as to civil and political rights, was not wholly origj- nal; the Free Negroes from 1830 up to wartime had striven to build industrial schools, and the American Missionary Association had from the first taught various trades; and Price and others had sought a way of honorable alliance with the best of the Southerners. But Mr. Washington first indissolubly linked these things; he put enthusiasm, unlimited energy, and perfect faith intro this programme, and changed it from a by—path into a veritable Way of Life. And the ale of the methods by which he did this is a fascinating study of human life. It startled the nation to hear a Negro advo— cating such a programme after many decades of bitter complaint; it startled and won the applause of the South, it interested and won the admira- tion of the North; and after a confused murmur of protest, it silenced if it did not convert the Negroes themselves. To gain the sympathy and cooperation of the various elements comprising the white South was Mr. Washington’s first task; and this, at the time Tuskegee was founded, seemed, for a black man, well—nigh impossible. And yet ten years later it was done in the word spoken at Atlanta: “In all things purely social we can be as separate as the five fingers, and yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.” This “Atlanta Compromise” is by all odds the most notable thing in Mr. Washington’s career. The South interpreted it in different ways: The radicals received it as a complete surrender of the demand for civil and political equality; the conservatives, as a generously con- ceived working basis for mutual understanding. So both approved it, and to-day its author is certainly the most distinguished Southerner since Jefferson Davis, and the one with the largest personal following. Next to this achievement comes Mr. Washing— ton’s work in gaining place and consideration in the North. Others less shrewd and tactful had formerly essayed to sit on these two stools and had fallen between them; but as Mr. Washington knew the heart of the South from birth and train- ing, so by singular insight he intuitively grasped the spirit of the age which was dominating the North. And so thoroughly did he learn the speech and thought of triumphant commercialism, and the ideals of material prosperity, that the picture of a lone black boy poring over a French gram— mar amid the weeds and dirt of a neglected home soon seemed to him the acme of absurdities. One wonders what Socrates and St. Francis ofAssisi would say to this. And yet this very singleness of vision and thorough oneness with his age is a mark of the successful man. It is as though Nature must needs make men narrow in order to give them force. So Mr. Washington’s cult has gained unques- tioning followers, his work has wonderfully prospered, his friends are legion, and his enemies are confounded. To-day he stands as the one recognized spokesman of his ten million fel— lows, and one of the most notable figures in a nation of seventy millions. One hesitates, there— fore, to criticise a life which, beginning with so little, has done so much. And yet the time is come when one may speak in all sincerity and utter courtesy of the mistakes and shortcomings of Mr. Washington’s career, as well as of his triumphs, without being thought captious or ‘ envious, and without forgetting that it is easier to do ill than well in the world. The criticism that has hitherto met Mr. Washington has not always been of this broad character. In the South especially has he had to walk warily to avoid the harshest judgments,— and naturally so, for he is dealing with the one subject of deepest sensitiveness to that section. Twice—once when at the Chicago celebration of the Spanish~American War he alluded to the color-prejudice that is “eating away the vitals of the .South,” and once when he dined with President Roosevelt—has the resulting Southern criticism been violent enough to threaten seri- ously his popularity. In the North the feeling has several times forced itself into words, that Mr. Washington’s counsels of submission over— looked certain elements of true manhood, and that his educational programme was unneces- sarily narrow. Usually, however, such criticism ideals and self-sacrificing spirit, were wholly failures or worthy of ridicule. While, then, criti- cism has not failed to follow Mr. Washington, yet theprevailing public opinion of the land has been but too willing to deliver the solution of a wearisome problem into his hands, and say, “If that is all you and your race ask, take it.” Among his own people, however, Mr. Washington has encountered the strongest and most lasting opposition, amounting at times to bitterness, and even to—day continuing strong and insistent even though largely silenced in outward expression by the public opinion of the nation. Some of this opposition is, of course, mere envy; the disappointment of displaced demagogues and the spite of narrow minds. But aside from this, there is among educated and thoughtful colored men in all parts of the land a feeling of deep regret, sorrow, and, apprehension at the wide currency and ascendancy which some of Mr. Washington’s theories have gained. These same men admire his sincerity of pur- pose, and are willing to forgive much to honest endeavor which is doing something worth the doing. They cooperate with Mr. Washington as far as they conscientiously can; and, indeed, it is no ordinary tribute to this man’s tact and power that, steering as he must between so many diverse interests and opinions, he so largely retains the respect of all. . . . Mr. Washington represents in Negro thought the old attitude of adjustment and submission; but adjustment at such a peculiar time as to make his programme unique. This is an age of unusual economic development, and Mr. Washington’s programme naturally takes an economic cast, becoming a gospel of Work and Money to such an extent as apparently almost completely to overshadow the higher aims of life. Moreover, this is an age when the more advanced races are coming in closer contact with the less developed races, and the race—feeling is therefore inten- sified; and Mr. Washington’s programme practi— cally accepts the alleged inferiority of the Negro races. Again, in our own land, the reac- tion from the sentiment of war time has given impetus to race—prejudice against Negroes, and 332 0:. SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY IN THE CLASSICAL ERA Mr. Washington withdraws many of the high demands of Negroes as men and American citi— zens. In other periods ofintensifred prejudice all the Negro’s tendency to self—assertion has been called forth; at this period a policy of submis— sion is advocated. In the history of nearly all other races and peoples the doctrine preached at such crises has been that manly self—respect is worth more than lands and houses, and that a people who voluntarily surrender such respect, or cease striving for it, are not worth civilizing. In answer to this, it has been claimed that the Negro can survive only through submis- sion. Mr. Washington distinctly asks that black people give up, at least for the present, three things,~First, political power, Second, insistence on civil rights, Third, higher education of Negro youth,—— And concentrate all their energies on indus- trial education, the accumulation of wealth, and the conciliation of the South. This policy has been courageously and insistently advocated for over fifteen years, and has been triumphant for perhaps ten years. As a result of this tender of the palm-branch, what has been the return? In these years there have occurred: 1. The disfranchisement of the Negro. F.) The legal creation of a distinct status of civil inferiority for the Negro. 3. The steady withdrawal of aid from insti- tutions for the higher training of the Negro. These movements are not, to be sure, direct results of Mr. Washington’s teachings; but his propaganda has, without a shadow of doubt, helped their speedier accomplishment. The question then comes: Is it possible, and proba- ble, that nine millions of men can make effec— tive progress in economic lines if they are deprived of political rights, made a servile caste, and allowed only the most meagre chance for developing their exceptional men? If history and reason give any distinct answer to these ques- tions, it is an emphatic No. And Mr. Washington thus faces the triple paradox of his career: 1. He is striving nobly to make Negro artisans business men and property—owners; but it is utterly impossible, under modern f.) He insists on thrift and self- at the same time counsels a mission to civic inferiority bound to sap the manhood of the long run. respect, but silent Sub~ such as is any race in 3. He advocates common‘school and indus trial training, and depreciates institution; of higher learning; but neither the Negro common—schools, nor Tuskegee itself could remain open a day were it not f0; teachers trained in Negro colleges, or trained by their graduates . , . To-day even the attitude of the Southern whites toward the blacks is not, as so many assume, in all cases the same; the ignorant Southerner hates the Negro, the workingmen fear his competition, the money-makers wish to use him as a laborer some of the educated see a menace in hi; upward development, while others—usually the sons of the masters—wish to help him to rise. National opinion has enabled this last class to maintain the Negro common schools, and to pro- tect the Negro partially in property, life, and limb. Through the pressure of the money-makers, the Negro is in danger of being reduced to semi- slavery, especially in the country districts; the workingmen, and those of the educated who fear the Negro, have united to disfranchise him, and some have urged his deportation; while the passions of the ignorant are easily aroused to lynch and abuse any black man . . . The South ought to be led, by candid and honest criticism, to assert her better self and do her full duty to the race she has cruelly wronged and is still wronging. The North— her co—partner in guilt—cannot salve her con- science by plastering it with gold. We cannot settle this problem by diplomacy and suave- ness, by “policy” alone. If worse comes to worst, can the moral fibre of this country sur— vive the slow throttling and murder of nine millions of men? The black men of America have a duty to perform, a duty stern and delicate,—a forward movement to oppose a part of the work of their greatest leader. So far as Mr. Washington Iches Thrift, Patience, and Industrial Training the masses, we must hold up his hands and 76 with him, rejoicing in his honors and ying in the strength of this Joshua called of | and of man to lead the headless host. But 'ar as Mr. Washington apologizes for injus— , North or South, does not rightly value prvilege and duty of voting, belittles the isculating effects of caste distinctions, and oses the higher training and ambition of brighter minds,——so far as he, the South, or Nation, does this,——we must unceasingly firmly oppose them. By every civilized . peaceful method we must strive for the its which the world accords to men, clinging vaveringly to those great words which the is of the Fathers would f ain forget: “We hold se truths to be self-evident: That all men are ated equal; that they are endowed by their :ator with certain unalienable rights; that ong these are life, liberty, and the pursuit happiness.” : THE FAITH OF THE FATHERS was out in the country, far from home, far from I foster home, on a dark Sunday night. The id wandered from our rambling log—house up : stony bed of a creek, past wheat and corn, til we could hear dimly across the fields a ythmic cadence of song—soft, thrilling, pow— ?ul, that swelled and died sorrowfully in our rs. I was a country schoolteacher then, fresh )m the East, and had never seen a Southern egro revival. To be‘sure, we in Berkshire were it perhaps as stiff and formal as they in Suffolk 'olden time; yet we were very quiet and sub— led, and I know not what would have happened ose clear Sabbath mornings had some one inctuated the sermon with a wild scream, or terrupted the long prayer with a loud Amen! nd so most striking to me, as I approached the .llage- and the little plain church perched aloft, 'as the air of intense excitement that possessed lat mass of black folk. A sort of suppressed ter- )r hung in the air and seemed to seize us,——a ythian madness, a demoniac possession, that :nt terrible reality to song and word. The black nd massive form of the preacher swayed and uivered as the words crowded to his lips and W. E. B. Du Bois ‘3‘ 333 flew at us in singular eloquence. The people moaned and fluttered, and then the gaunt- cheeked brown woman beside me suddenly leaped straight into the air and shrieked like a lost soul, while round about came wail and groan and outcry, and a scene of human passion such as I had never conceived before. Those who have not thus witnessed the frenzy of a Negro revival in the untouched backwoods of the South can but dimly realize the religious feeling of the slave; as described, such scenes appear grotesque and funny, but as seen they are awful. Three things characterized this religion of the slave,—the Preacher, the Music, and the Frenzy. The preacher is the most unique personality developed by the Negro on American soil. A leader, a politician, an orator, a “boss,” an intriguer, an idealist,——all these he is, and ever, too, the centre of a group of men, now twenty, now a thousand in number. The combination of a certain adroitness with deep—seated earnestness, of tact with consum- mate ability, gave him his preeminence, and helps him maintain it. The type, of course, varies according to time and place, from the West Indies in the sixteenth century to New England in the nineteenth, and from the Mississippi bottoms to cities like New Orleans or New York. The Music of Negro religion is that plaintive rhythmic melody, with its touching minor cadences, which, despite caricature and defile- ment, still remains the most original and beauti— ful expression of human life and longing yet born on American soil. Sprung from the African forests, where its counterpart can still be heard, it was adapted, changed, and intensified by the tragic soul-life of the slave, until, under the stress of law and whip, it became the one true expres- sion of a people’s sorrow, despair, and hope. Finally the Frenzy of “Shouting,” when the Spirit of the Lord passed by, and, seizing the devotee, made him mad with supernatural joy, was the last essential of Negro religion and the one more devoutly believed in than all the rest. It varied in expression from the silent rapt countenance or the low murmur and moan to the mad abandon of physical fervor,-—the stamping, shrieking, and shouting, the rushing to and fro and wild waving of arms, the weeping and laughing, the vision and the trance. All this 334 '9 SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY IN THE CLASSICAL ERA is nothing new in the world, but old as religion, as Delphi and Endor. And so firm a hold did it have on the Negro, that many generations firmly believed that without this visible manifestation of the God there could be no true communion with the Invisible. These were the characteristics of Negro religious life as developed up to the time of Emancipation. Since under the peculiar circum- stances of the black man’s environment they were the one expression of his higher life, they are of deep interest to the student of his devel- opment, both socially and psychologically. Numerous are the attractive lines of inquiry that here group themselves. What did slavery mean to the African savage? What was his attitude toward the World and Life? What seemed to him good and evil,—God and Devil? Whither went his longings and strivings, and wherefore were his heart-burnings and disappointments? Answers to such questions can come only from a study of Negro religion as a development, through its gradual changes from the hea- thenism of the Gold Coast to the institutional Negro church of Chicago. Moreover, the religious growth of millions of men, even though they be slaves, cannot be without potent influence upon their contempo- raries. The Methodists and Baptists of America owe much of their condition to the silent but potent influence of their millions of Negro con— verts. Especially is this noticeable in the South, where theology and religious philosophy are on this account a long way behind the North, and where the religion of the poor whites is a plain copy of Negro thought and methods. The mass of “gospel” hymns which has swept through American churches and well-nigh ruined our sense of song consists largely of debased imita— tions of Negro melodies made by ears that caught the jingle but not the music, the body but not the soul, of the Jubilee songs. It is thus clear that the study of Negro religion is not only a vital part of the history of the Negro in America, but no uninteresting part of American history. The Negro church of to-day is the social cen— tre of Negro life in the United States, and the most characteristic expression of African char- acter. Take a typical church in a small Virginia town: it is the “First Baptist”—a roomy brick edifice seating five hundred or more persons, tastefully finished in Georgia pine, with a carpet, a small organ, and stained—glass windows_ Underneath is a large assembly room with benches. This building is the central club~house of a community of a thousand or more Negroes_ Various organizations meet here—the church proper, the Sunday-school, two or three insur- ance societies, women’s societies, secret soci- eties, and mass meetings of various kinds. Entertainments, suppers, and lectures are held beside the five or six regular weekly religious services. Considerable sums of money are col- lected and expended here, employment is found for the idle, strangers are introduced, news is disseminated and charity distributed. At the same time this social, intellectual, and ecc— nomic centre is a religious centre of great power. Depravity, Sin, Redemption, Heaven, Hell, and Damnation are preached twice a Sunday after the crops are laid by; and few indeed of the community have the hardihood to withstand conversion. Back of this more formal religion, the Church often stands as a real conserver of morals, a strengthener of family life, and the final authority on what is Good and Right. Thus one can see in the Negro church to-day, reproduced in microcosm, all the great world from which the Negro is cut off by color- prejudice and social condition. In the great city churches the same tendency is noticeable and in many respects emphasized. A great church like the Bethel of Philadelphia has over eleven hundred members, an edifice seating fifteen hundred persons and valued at one hundred thousand dollars, an annual budget of five thou— sand dollars, and a government consisting of a pastor with several assisting local preachers, an executive and legislative board, financial boards and tax collectors; general church meetings for making laws; sub-divided groups led by class leaders, :1 company of militia, and twenty—four auxiliary societies. The activity of a church like this is immense and far—reaching, and the bish- ops who preside over these organizations through- out the land are among the most powerful Negro rulers in the world. Such churches are really governments of men, and consequently a little investigation reveals the curious-fact that, in the South, at least, practically every American Negro is a church member. Some, to be sure, are not rDEL with )use 'oes. urch ,sur- .oci— nds. held ious col- rund 's is the eco— wer. and tfter the .and ion, r of the trch reat lor— city and erh ven een lred )f a , an ads for lass Our like .sh- gro of ion . at I) N not regularly enrolled, and a few do not habitually attend services; but, practically, a proscribed people must have a social centre and that centre for this people is the Negro church. The census of 1890 showed nearly twenty—four thousand Negro churches in the country, with a total enrolled membership of over two and a half millions, or ten actual church members to every twenty eight persons, and in some Southern states one in every two persons. Besides these there is the large number who, while not enrolled as members, attend and take part in many of the activities of the church. There is an organized Negro church for every sixty black families in the nation, and in some States for every forty families, owning, on an average, a thousand dollars’ worth of property each, or nearly twenty—six million dollars in all. Such, then, is the large development of the Negro church since Emancipation. The question now is, What have been the successive steps of this social history and what are the present tendencies? First, we must realize that no such institution as the Negro church could rear itself without definite historical foundations. These foundations we can find if we remember that the social history of the Negro did not start in America. He was from a definite social environment—the polygamous clan life under the headship of the chief and the potent influence of the priest. His religion was nature-worship, with profound belief in invisible surrounding influences, good and bad, and his worship was through incantation and sacrifice. The first rude change in this life was the slave ship and the West Indian sugar—fields. The plantation organi- zation replaced the clan and tribe, and the white master replaced the chief with far greater and more despotic powers. Forced and long— continued toil became the rule of life, the old ties of blood relationship and kinship disappeared, and instead of the family appeared a new polygamy and polyandry, which, in some cases, almost reached promiscuity. It was a terrific social revolution, and yet some traces were retained of the former group life, and the chief remaining institution was the Priest or Medicine- man. He early appeared on the plantation and found his function as the healer of the sick, the interpreter of the Unknown, the comforter of the sorrowing, the supernatural avenger of wrong, W. E. B. Du Bois ‘3‘ 335 and the one who rudely but picturesquely expressed the longing, disappointment, and resentment of a stolen and oppressed people. Thus, as bard, physician, judge, and priest, within the narrow limits allowed by the slave system, rose the Negro preacher, and under him the first church was not at first by any means Christian nor definitely organized; rather it was an adaptation and mingling of heathen rites among the members of each plantation, and roughly designated as Voodooism. Association with the masters, missionary effort and motive of expediency gave these rites an early veneer of Christianity, and after the lapse of many genera— tions the Negro church became Christian. Two characteristic things must be noticed in regard to the church. First, it became almost entirely Baptist and Methodist in faith; secondly, as a social institution it antedated by many decades the monogamic Negro home. From the very circumstances of its beginning, the church was confined to the plantation, and consisted primarily of a series of disconnected units; although, later on, some freedom of movement was allowed, still this geographical limitation was always important and was one cause of the spread of the decentralized and democratic Baptist faith among the slaves. At the same time, the vis- ible rite of baptism appealed strongly to their mystic temperament. To-day the Baptist Church is still largest in membership among Negroes, and has a million and a half communicants. Next in popularity came the churches organized in con— nection with the white neighboring churches, chiefly Baptist and Methodist, with a few Episco- palian and others. The Methodists still form the second greatest denomination, with nearly a million members. The faith of these two leading denominations was more suited to the slave church from the prominence they gave to reli— gious feeling and fervor. The Negro membership in other denominations has always been small and relatively unimportant, although the Episcopalian and Presbyterians are gaining among the more intelligent classes to-day, and the Catholic Church is making headway in certain sections. After Emancipation, and still earlier in the North, the Negro churches largely severed such affiliations as they had had with the white churches, either by choice or by compulsion. The BaptiSt churCheS became independent, but the MCIhOdiStS were 336 '10 SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY IN THE CLASSICAL ERA compelled early to unite for purposes of episcopal government. This gave rise to the great African Methodist Church, the greatest Negro organi— zation in the world, to the Zion Church and the Colored Methodist, and to the black conferences and churches in this and other denominations. The second fact noted, namely, that the Negro church antedates the Negro home, leads to an explanation of much that is paradoxical in this communistic institution and in the morals of its members. But especially it leads us to regard this institution as peculiarly the expression of the inner ethical life of a people in a sense seldom true elsewhere. Let us turn, then, from the outer physical development of the church to the more important inner ethical life of the people who compose it. The Negro has already been pointed out many times as a religious animal—a being of that deep emotional nature which turns instinctively toward the supernat- ural. Endowed with a rich tropical imagination and a keen, delicate appreciation of Nature, the transplanted African lived in a world animate with gods and devils, elves and witches; full of strange influences,——of Good to be implored, of Evil to be propitiated. Slavery, then, was to him the dark triumph of Evil over him. All the hate— ful powers of the Under-world were striving against him, and a spirit of revolt and revenge filled his heart. He called up all the resources of heathenism to aid—exorcism and witch-craft, the mysterious Obi worship with its barbarious rites, spells, and blood-sacrifice even, now and then, of human victims. Weird midnight orgies and mystic conjurations were invoked, the witch-woman and the voodoo-priest became the centre of Negro group life, and that vein of vague superstition which characterizes the unlettered Negro even to—day was deepened and strengthened. In spite, however, of such success as that of the fierce Maroons, the Danish blacks, and others, the spirit of revolt gradually died away under the untiring energy and superior strength of the slave masters. By the middle of the eigh- teenth century the black slave had sunk, with hushed murmurs, to his place at the bottom of a new economic system, and was unconsciously ripe for a new philosophy of life. Nothing suited his condition then better than the doctrines of passive submission embodied in the new newly learned Christianity. Slave masters early realized this, and cheerfully aided religious propaganda within certain bounds. The long system of repression and degradation of the Negro tended to emphasize the elements of his character which made him a valuable chattel: courtesy became humility, moral strength degenerated into submission, and the exquisite native appre, ciation of the beautiful became an infinite capacity for dumb suffering. The Negro, losing the joy of this world, eagerly seized upon the offered conceptions of the next; the avenging Spirit of the Lord enjoining patience in this world, under sorrow and tribulation until the Great Day when He should lead His dark children home,—this became his comforting dream. His preacher repeated the prophecy, and his bards sang,— “Children, we all shall be free When the Lord shall appear!” This deep religious fatalism, painted so beautifully in “Uncle Tom,” came soon to breed, as all fatalistic faiths will, the sensualist side by side with the martyr. Under the lax moral life of the plantation, where marriage was a farce, laziness a virtue, and property a theft, a religion of resignation and submission degenerated easily, in less strenuous minds, into a philoso- phy of indulgence and crime. Many of the worst characteristics of the Negro masses of to—day had their seed in this period of the slave’s ethi- cal growth. Here it was that the Home was ruined under the very shadow of the Church, white and black; here habits of shiftlessness took root, and sullen hopelessness replaced hopeful strife. With the beginning of the abolition move- ment and the gradual growth of a class of free Negroes came a change. We often neglect the influence of the freedman before the war, because of the paucity of his numbers and the small weight he had in the history of the nation. But we must not forget that his chief influence was internal,—was exerted on the black world; and that there he was the ethical and social leader. Huddled as he was in a few centres like Philadelphia, New York, and New Orleans. the masses of the freedmen sank into poverty and listlessness; but not all of them. The free Negro y z i i i L_____________;_____— leader early arose and his chief characteristic was intense earnestness and deep feeling on the slavery question. Freedom became to him a real thing and not a dream. His religion became darker and more intense, and into his ethics crept a note of revenge, into his songs a day of reckoning close at hand. The “Coming of the Lord” swept this side of Death, and came to be a thing to be hoped for in this day. Through fugi- tive slaves and irrepressible discussion this desire for freedom seized the black millions still in bondage, and became their one ideal of life. The black bards caught new notes, and some— times even dared to sing,— “0 Freedom, 0 Freedom, 0 Freedom over me! Before I’ll be a' slave I’ll be buried in my grave, And go home to my Lord . And be free.” For fifty years Negro religion thus trans- formed itself and identified itself with the dream of Abolition, until that which was a radical fad in the white North and an anarchistic plot in the white South had become a religion to the black world. Thus, when Emancipation finally came, it seemed to the freedman a literal Coming of the Lord. His fervid imagination was stirred as never before, by the tramp of armies, the blood and dust of battle, and the wail and whirl of social upheaval. He stood dumb and motionless before the whirlwind: what had he to do with it? Was it not the Lord’s doing, and marvellous in his eyes? Joyed and bewildered with what came, he stood awaiting new wonders till the inevitable Age of Reaction swept over the nation and brought the crisis of to-day. It is difficult to explain clearly the present critical stage of Negro religion. First, we must remember that living as the blacks do in close contact with a great modern nation, and sharing, although imperfectly, the soul—life of that nation, they must necessarily be affected more or less directly by all the religious and ethical forces that are to—day moving the United States. These questions and movements are, however, overshadowed and dwarfed by the (to them) all-important question of their civil, political, W. E. B. Du Bois '2’ 337 and economic status. They must perpetually discuss the “Negro Prob]em,”——must live, move, and have their being in it, and interpret all else in its light or darkness. With this come, too, peculiar problems of their inner life,——0f the status of women, the maintenance of Home, the training of children, the accumulation of wealth, and the prevention of crime, All this must mean a time of intense ethical ferment, of religious heart—searching and intellectual unrest. From the double life every American Negro must live, as a Negro and as an American, as swept on by the current of the nineteenth while yet struggling in the eddies of the fifteenth century,~from this must arise a painful self—consciousness, an almost morbid sense of personality and a moral hesitancy which is fatal to self-confidence. The worlds within and without the Veil of Color are changing, and changing rapidly, but not at the same rate, not in the same way; and this must produce a peculiar wrenching of the soul, a peculiar sense of doubt and bewilderment. Such a double life, with double thoughts, double duties, and double social classes, must give rise to double words and double ideals, and tempt the mind to pretence or revolt, to hypocrisy or radicalism. In some such doubtful words and phrases can one perhaps most clearly picture the pecu— liar ethical paradox that faces the Negro of to-day and is tingeing and changing his reli- gious life. Feeling that his rights and his dear— est ideals are being trampled upon, that the public conscience is ever more deaf to his right- eous appeal, and that all the reactionary forces of prejudice, greed, and revenge are daily gain— ing new strength and fresh allies, the Negro faces no enviable dilemma. Conscious of his impotence, and pessimistic, he often becomes bitter and vindictive; and his religion, instead of a worship, is a complaint and a curse, a wail rather than a hope, a sneer rather than a faith. On the other hand, another type of mind, shrewder and keener and more tortuous too. sees in the very strength of the anti—Negro movement its patent weaknesses, and with Jesuitic casuistry is deterred by no ethical considerations in the endeavor to turn this weakness to the black man’s strength. Thus we have two great and hardly reconcilable streams of thoutlht and ethical strivings; the danger of the one lies in 338 °1° SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY IN THE CLASSICAL ERA anarchy, that of the other in hypocrisy. The one type of Negro stands almost ready to curse God and die, and the other is too often found a trai- tor to right and a coward before force; the one is wedded to ideals remote, whimsical, perhaps impossible of realization; the other forgets that life is more than meat and the body more than raiment. But, after all, is not this simply the writhing of the age translated into black, the triumph of the Lie which today, with its false culture, faces the hideousness of the anarchist assassin? To—day the two groups of Negroes, the one in the North, the other in the South, represent these divergent ethical tendencies, the first tending toward radicalism, the other toward hypocritical compromise. It is no idle regret with which the white South mourns the loss of the old—time Negro,—thc frank, honest, simple old servant who stood for the earlier religious age of submission and humility. With all his laziness and lack of many elements of true manhood, he was at least open-hearted, faith- ful, and sincere. To-day he is gone, but who is to blame for his going? ls it not those very persons who mourn for him? Is it not the tendency, born of Reconstruction and Reaction, to found a society on lawlessness and decep— tion, to tamper with the moral fibre of a natu— rally honest and straight—forward people until the whites threaten to become ungovernable tyrants and the blacks criminals and hyp- ocrites? Deception is the natural defence of the weak against the strong, and the South used it for many years against its conquerors; to-day it must be prepared to see its black pro— letariat turn that same two—edged weapon against itself. And how natural this is! The death of Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner proved long since to the Negro the present hopeless— ness of physical defence. Political defence is becoming less and less available, and eco- nomic defence is still only partially effective. But there is a patent defence at hand,—the defence of deception and flattery, of cajoling and lying. It is the same defence which peas- ants of the Middle Age used and which left its stamp on their character for centuries. To-day the young Negro of the South who would suc— ceed cannot be frank and outspoken, honest and self»assertive, but rather he is daily tempted to be silent and wary, politic and sly; he must flatter and be pleasant, endure petty insults with a smile, shut his eyes to wrong; in too many cases he sees positive personal advan_ tage in deception and lying. His real thoughts” his real aspirations, must be guarded in Whis- pers; he must not criticise, he must not com- plain. Patience, humility, and adroitness must, in these growing black youth, replace impulse, manliness, and courage. With this sacrifice there is an economic opening, and perhaps peace and some prosperity. Without this there is riot, migration, or crime. Nor is this situation pecu— liar to the Southern United States, is it not rather the only method by which undevel- oped races have gained the right to share modern culture? The price of culture is a Lie. On the other hand, in the North the tendency is to emphasize the radicalism of the Negro. Driven from his birthright in the South by a situation at which every fibre of his more out- spoken and assertive nature revolts, he finds himself in a land where he can scarcely earn a decent living amid the harsh competition and the color discrimination. At the same time, through schools and periodicals, discussions and lectures, he is intellectually quickened and awakened. The soul, long pent up and dwarfed, suddenly expands in new—found freedom. What wonder that every tendency is to excess, radical complaint, radical remedies, bitter denuncia— tion or angry silence. Some sink, some rise. The criminal and the sensualist leave the church for the gambling-hell and the brothel. and fill the slums of Chicago and Baltimore; the better classes segregate themselves from the group—life of both white and black, and form an aris— tocracy, cultured but pessimistic, whose bitter criticism stings while it points out no way of escape. They despise the submission and sub- serviency of the Southern Negroes, but offer no other means by which a poor and oppressed minority can exist side by side with its masters. Feeling deeply and keenly the tendencies and opportunities of the age in which they live, their souls are bitter at the fate which drops the Veil between; and the very fact that this bitterness is natural and justifiable only serves to intensify it and make it more maddening. mg.“ m; nanny-haw Wmamrmmnfl‘m: .v¢mnv.,__.—_——_._4_ 4 Between the two extreme types of ethical attitude which 1 have thus sought to make clear wavers the mass of the millions of Negroes, North and South; and their religious life and activity partake of this social conflict within their ranks. Their churches are differentiating,— now into groups of cold, fashionable devotees, in no way distinguishable from similar white groups save in color of skin; now into large social and business institutions catering to the desire for information and amusement of their members, warily avoiding unpleasant questions both within and without the black world, and W. E. B. Du Bois '1' 339 preaching in effect if not in word: Dum vivimus, wvamus. But back of this still broods silently the deep religious feeling of the real Negro heart, the stir— ring, unguided might of powerful human souls who have lost the guiding star of the past and seek in the great night a new religious ideal. Some day the Awakening will come, when the pent-up vigor of ten million souls shall sweep irresistibly toward the Goal, out of the Valley of the Shadow of Death, where all that makes life worth living—Liberty, Justice, and Right—is marked “For White People Only.” Introduction to “The Souls of White Folk” Throughout his long life, Du Bois’s basic argument remained unchanged. However, after World War I, Du Bois stepped up his demands for emancipation, and his work acquired a more aggressive tone, African Americans coming home from battle in Europe were incensed to find that despite their wartime contributions, they were treated, at best, as second-class citizens, In addition, between 1910 and 1920, black lit— eracy and militancy had been increasing, and a “New Negro” movement was taking hold. Membership in the NAACP nearly doubled between 1918 and 1919, and there were dozens of riots in scores of American cities. In a single riot in Chicago, 15 whites and 23 blacks were killed, and more than 500 were injured (Rudwick 1960/19822237; Lewis 200018). “The Souls of White Folk” was originally published in 1910, but it was revised with references to World War I for re-publication in Darkwaler in 1920. Dar/(water set off a tremendous public storm, in large part because Du Bois asserted that “the dark was preparing to meet the white world in battle” (Rudwick 1960/ 19822242). Of course, Du Bois had already been stirring up controversy with his provocative editorials in the Crisis. For instance, in the May 1919 issue of that journal (which sold approximately 100,000 copies), Du Bois maintained, By the God of Heaven, we are cowards and jackasses if now that the war is over, we do not marshal every ounce of our brain and brawn to fight a sterner, longer, more unbending battle against the forces of hell in our own land. (ibid.: 238) Sadly (albeit predictably), many whites reacted hysterically to the “New Negro” movement. In 1919, 77 African Americans were lynched in various parts of the country (ibid.:237). Racial tensions completely exploded in rural Arkansas in October 1919 after gunfire from black sharecroppers who had been meeting in a church left a white deputy sheriff dead and several white Citizens wounded. In at I“ y ‘ 11* (t, A 13-51 ...
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dubois - The Souls of Black Folk (1903) W. E. B. Du Bois...

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