American Passages: Contributions W.E.B Du Bois


In 1906, towards the end of President Theodore Roosevelt’s first term, he invited Washington T. Booker in white house for a meal. As leading African American, Booker-Roosevelt meeting was expected to address the plight of many African Americans against a worsening conditions of racial segregations while at the same time generate agreement that would contribute toward the victory of republicans in the election that was coming a head. Booker saw that it was sufficient for African Americans to accept the president’s offer to give more opportunities to African Americans to represent their people in the national Congress. The grievances of African Americans were motivated by various forms of slavery as they were brought in the country through slave trade in 19th century. In the beginning of 21st century, the socialization of African America had developed as their numbers. They needed to vote, adequate health care and supply of essential services by the government. In the American passages, these episodes take us through a time in American history when white prejudice dominated U.S.A. particularly the north. In contrast racial discrimination and wide spread bias in wealth allocation faced foreigners living in US. Of particular attention were the Asians and Americans of African origin. As Debois puts it, Africans were not to inferior to deserve such hash treatment. Neither were they to offensive that race discrimination and rights violation were the best options to keep them from participating in the country’s development affairs and still be appreciated.

William Edward Burgardt Du Bois

“The Negro’s status in Southern Politics is dark as Hell and smells like cheese”. Despite the fact that African American were discriminated against because of their color and race, they continued to remain relevant as important delegates that would guarantee republicans victory in elections should they vote as a team by rallying behind Washington Booker. Majority of the Africans were not for the ideas of Booker as he chose to work with Roosevelt to consolidate the African American political support. In as much as Roosevelt remained relatively obstinate about deteriorating race relations between the whites in the north and black Americans in the south, Bookers association with Roosevelt was considered by African Americans more of a betrayal rather than “white house promise” in the views of Booker who joined Roosevelt following his declaration in Atlanta, Georgia in 1895. They thought that Booker supported racism-the very form of oppression that they faced at the time and was perpetuated by white republicans in government (Du Bois 17).

Given this state of affairs, William Edward Burgardt Du Bois emerged as the key leader in African American social political leadership as the person who would guarantee them leadership as they fend for their fate. Therefore, WEB Dubois leadership gained fast prominence and popularity amongst black soldiers both in the army and in the navy. This discussion derives from the African American struggle against racial segregation which was the sole mission of Dubois-to rally African Americans behind an uprising that would see them conquer racial bias among other basis and styles of discrimination, to explain how his character and action mixed in his leadership those impacts on modern American Politics. Whether Dubois had any great influences on the American social, political and economics is the issue of discussion in the first part of this essay. The discussion seeks to evaluate the contribution of Dubois in towards the various transformations in its society that have effects to the modern day US (Anderson 118).

Dubois goes into the annals of America’s history as the first social and political leader to lead a direct confrontation against the government. On this account, he is credited by the majority for leading twenty nine black delegates to Niagara Falls in New York where they demanded for both political and social rights of the Negros. Dubois believed that the countries regime is subjecting the Negro American to racial discrimination that is surmountable to inferiority as opposed the whites’ views which suggested that African Americans were naturally submissive to discrimination since they were brought in America as slaves. From this convention henceforth, the Negros in the south and every American of black descendent would yield to intense opposition against Booker Washington as widespread protests about deplorable conditions of African Americans begin to grip the US (Du Bois 71).

Roosevelt resumed presidency for his second term amidst growing concern about the worsening economic and social situation of Negros. Besides racial segregation, African Americans lost their jobs, lacked proper housing and were not granted basic human rights comparable to their whites’ counterparts. Unfortunately, he became insensitive and less concerned with the need to address their plight. After all he had succeeded in winning the election and was not going to vie in the next elections. The epitome of racial discrimination is probably the whites’ demonstration in Springfield, Illinois. In their protest against possible equal treatment of blacks and whites, two Negros were brutally murdered. Further unrest in the country prompted major white reformers to team up with Dubois in the formation of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) (Ayers, Edward, Gould, Lewis and Shinseki, David 582).

The primary objective of this association was to lead struggles aimed at making the government and the whites who reserved racial prejudice against African Americans to restore human dignity for their African fellows. in his observation, the Niggers were not just being segregated, they were denied also basic human rights such as freedom of speech and movement in certain locations. They lacked education and primary health care was non existent in most areas in the south where they were concentrated. Since the leadership of Roosevelt now ignored them, Du Bois sow that they could if they could only learn of the degree of deprivation that they faced and its full consequences on their future in America, their unity could stand all efforts aimed at calming them from advancing their demands from the government (Juguo 8).

This development is considered the turning point for Dubois efforts to create a lasting impact on the country’s social and political aspects. Acting under the under the umbrella of NAACP, he proceeded to step up their efforts to end racial discrimination, and call on the government to grant voting rights to African Americans and further provide essential services and basic education to all children. It would take Du bois more effort to push through their reform in the country because it was equally dealing with aftermath of colonialism at this time. Through his literary writing titled “the souls of Black folk”, Du Bois stirred up reactions amongst the African America by inspiring them to rise against racial oppression and fight for their rights. During the First World War, he used his authority in Peace information center to demand the illegalization of atomic weapons. Much of these weapons had been used in highly destructive wars against the Asian nations. Despite his refusal to withdraw his demands for making the use of nuclear weapons illegal, Dubois was acquitted from charges leveled against him on the claims that he acted as foreigner meddling in the US affairs (Schmidt, Steffen, Shelley, Mack and Bardes, Barbara 255).

Du Bois debut in America’s social and political arena is probably timely as it is important. He rose to beacon the hopes of many African Americans who for the first time having tasted freedom from slavery sought to express their sorrows about discrimination. Perhaps, Du Bois contribution of greater impact to the history of Americans is the blacks’ disappointment with the government for failing to cause fair treatment of African Americans. It must be admitted that Du Bois valued education; in one of his literary writings aimed at agitating Americans of black descendents to pursue education tailored toward white collar jobs, he attacked the views of Booker Washington in the “talented tenth”. While booker maintained that African Americans should train themselves to be better farmers and farm workers, Du bois was for the opinion that they should find formal education and seek to offer products and services as professionals. To this day, this contribution has a lasting impact in modern America civilization in that, Americans of African descendents make a significant proportion of professionals in various field of their expertise including office jobs(Bell, Benard, Grosholz, Emily and Stewart, James 448).

Du Bois supported black capitalism till the concept was tainted by white who made inroads to corrupt NAACP.As the American economic system adopted more capitalism ideologies, Du Bois’ social activism lead him to follow communism in various respects since he associated capitalism with the oppressive whites’ politics. On his migration to Africa he joined the communist party in Ghana where he became a citizen. Here as well, he maintained serious challenge to imperialism in the continent (Wintz 43).


Much of his public life was spent in social political activities aimed at integrating the Negros and the white American citizens. In all of his political efforts, Du Bois fought for equal rights for all Americans without discriminating against African Americans at all levels. He is forever remembered as one of the leading African American scholars who used his literary skills to educate and agitate the black American citizens to struggle for their rights. His main contribution in modern America includes the freedom of African Americans to vote and the abolition of slave trade. His undying determination to look for the truth especially after his doctorate degree also led to great contributions in the way social life of America’s citizens could be understood. In sociology and philosophy, Du bois formulated many bases upon which various aspects of human relations could be defined. This left a remarkable contribution to America’s classical literature as well as history that are useful for people for all generations. Through his highly influential approach to confront the status quo during his time, Du Bois impacted particularly on the lives of African Americans thereby leading to much memorable impressions on average civilized Americans.


Anderson, Malcolm. States and nationalism in Europe since 1945. 2000. New York: Routledge, 2000. Print.

Ayers, Edward, Gould, Lewis and Oshinsky, David. American Passages: A History of the United States. Volume 2: Since 1985. 4th Edition. Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, 2009. Print. Pp. 583

Bell, Benard, Grosholz, Emily and Stewart, James. (eds.), W.E.B. Du Bois on race and culture: philosophy, politics, and poetics. New York: Routledge. 1996. Print.

Du Bois, William E. B., The Souls of Black Folk. San Diego: Filiquarian, 2007. Print.

Schmidt, Steffen, Shelley, Mack and Bardes, Barbara. American Government & Politics Today. Boston, MA: Wordsworth, Cengage Learning, 2009. Print.

Wintz, Cary. African American political thought, 1890-1930: Washington, Du Bois, Garvey and Randolph. New York: M.E. Sharpe. 1999. Print

Juguo Zhang. (ed.), W., E. B. Du Bois: the quest for the abolition of the color line. New York: Routledge. 2001. Print.