Souls Of Black Folk Essay

735 Words3 Pages
W. E. B. Du Bois' The Souls of Black Folk is an influential work in African American literature and an American classic. In this work Du Bois proposes that "the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line." His concepts of life behind the covering of race and the resulting "double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others," have become touchstones for thinking about race in America. In addition to these enduring concepts, Souls offers an assessment of the progress of the race, the difficulty to that progress, and the possibilities for future progress as the nation entered the twentieth century. Du Bois examines the years immediately following the Civil War and, in particular, the Freedmen's Bureau's role in Reconstruction. The Bureau's failures were due not only to southern opposition and "national neglect," but also to mismanagement and courts that were biased "in favor of black litigants." The Bureau did have successes as well, and its most important contribution to progress was the founding of African American schools. Since the end of Reconstruction in 1876, Du Bois claims that the most significant event in African American history has been the rise of the educator, Booker T. Washington, to the role of spokesman for the race. Du Bois argues that Washington's approach to race relations is counterproductive to the long-term progress of the race. Washington's acceptance of segregation and his emphasis on material progress represent an "old attitude of adjustment and submission." Du Bois asserts that this policy has damaged African Americans by contributing to the loss of the vote, the loss of civil status, and the loss of aid for institutions of higher education. Du Bois insists that "the right to vote," "civic equality," and "the education of youth according to ability" are essential for African
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