W.E.B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American

W.E.B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American


  • Paperback
  • 752 pages
  • W.E.B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century, 1919-1963
  • David Levering Lewis
  • English
  • 02 March 2019
  • 0805068139

10 thoughts on “W.E.B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century, 1919-1963

  1. Sara Sara says:

    This second Pulitzer Prize winning volume sees Du Bois through WWII, years at Atlanta University, and to his 1963 death in Ghana Feel like I have taken a mini course in Black Studies by reading these two volumes and have come away with a valuable perspective that enriches my 20th century historical knowledge.


  2. James James says:

    I checked the second volume of Lewis DuBois biography out of the library right after finishing the first volume which I think is a testament to the excellence of the author s work Volume II was much harder to make my way through, which is not due to any fault of Lewis In the second volume you could feel the increasing pace of the modern world, especially as DuBois widened his intellectual horizons into Marxism and the Pan African movement It was also interesting to see how Lewis showed the r I checked the second volume of Lewis DuBois biography out of the library right after finishing the first volume which I think is a testament to the excellence of the author s work Volume II was much harder to make my way through, which is not due to any fault of Lewis In the second volume you could feel the increasing pace of the modern world, especially as DuBois widened his intellectual horizons into Marxism and the Pan African movement It was also interesting to see how Lewis showed the rise of African American protest movements in the 20th century as well as the expansion of DuBois Talented Tenth through DuBois eyes Even as someone whose primary interest has always been American history, it was fascinating to see DuBois role in the international community In this regard especially, Lewis integrity as a biographer is evident as he openly and honestly acknowledges DuBois tendency to downplay misread the horrors associated with totalitarianism in the mid 20th century He also shows DuBois the man, both immensely gifted and personally flawed The final chapter of the biography covering the last 10 15 years of DuBois life after his federal trial seemed rushed on Lewis part I would have liked to see that period in DuBois lifefully developed, but that s a small fault of such an excellent volume When Lewis discussed DuBois death at the March on Washington and wrote, W.E.B DuBois said nothing in his last hours But it had all been said I felt a little sad to be done with the book


  3. Kathy Kattenburg Kathy Kattenburg says:

    The first time I tried reading this book I could not get through it the second time I tried, years later, I couldn t put it down Go figure It s long, scholarly, meticulously researched, and if you re interested in Du Bois, I doubt you will find a better biography.


  4. Robert Robert says:

    This is truly a monumental work In terms of scope and impact, it reminds me of Robert Caro s Master of the Senate Just like that book is not only a record of Senator Lyndon Johnson but also a solid history of the US Senate, this volume not only describes the second half of Du Bois extraordinarily long and productive life but also gives a lucid history of race relations in the US from 1920 to 1960 since Du Bois was heavily involved in almost every major pro black effort in that time period es This is truly a monumental work In terms of scope and impact, it reminds me of Robert Caro s Master of the Senate Just like that book is not only a record of Senator Lyndon Johnson but also a solid history of the US Senate, this volume not only describes the second half of Du Bois extraordinarily long and productive life but also gives a lucid history of race relations in the US from 1920 to 1960 since Du Bois was heavily involved in almost every major pro black effort in that time period especially in the 1920s and 1930s.What strikes me the most about Du Bois i His boundless energy which allowed him to juggle a massive load of speaking and writing projects into his 90s ii His penetrating and curious intellect which engaged him in so many subjects iii His emotional resilience to handle so many controversies and setbacks even exile without ever becoming discouraged.I ll just point out a few of the things that struck me 1 The picture of Du Bois with Mao in 1959 is iconic He is 91 years old, looks so vigorous, relaxed and happy 2 I was amused to learn that he initially thought he would retire in 1930 at age 62 to a quiet and peaceful life in Massachusetts Instead, he proceeded to write one of his most influential scholarly works Black Reconstruction in America , embrace the far left, get indicted in anti communist witchhunt, have his passport confiscated, self exile to Ghana and engage in numerous high profile international controversies, all between the ages of 65 to 95 3 As of now 2019 his critique of capitalism is lookingandprescient Both from the populist left Bernie Sanders et al in the US and the populist right Tucker Carlson and co questions are being raised about whether unfettered capitalism can truly fulfill our deepest human needs Du Bois would have recognized many of these critiques especially the ones from the left.So if you re interested in American history, I very strongly recommend this This is a perspective most Americans don t know very much about, especially the numerous efforts between 1920 and 1950 to advance black civil rights which yielded fairly meager gains


  5. Christopher Saunders Christopher Saunders says:

    Second volume of Lewis s biography of W.E.B Du Bois, the black historian and activist who played a major role in shaping the development of African American culture and activism Lewis s book picks up in the aftermath of World War I, as Du Bois s dreams that the war would spur collapse amidst the Red Summer of 1919, marked by race riots, lynchings and general reaction across the country From there, a disillusioned Du Bois grows increasingly angry he spent much of the 20s feuding with NAAC Second volume of Lewis s biography of W.E.B Du Bois, the black historian and activist who played a major role in shaping the development of African American culture and activism Lewis s book picks up in the aftermath of World War I, as Du Bois s dreams that the war would spur collapse amidst the Red Summer of 1919, marked by race riots, lynchings and general reaction across the country From there, a disillusioned Du Bois grows increasingly angry he spent much of the 20s feuding with NAACP leader Walter White and separatist Marcus Garvey isolated, and radical His belief in a Talented Tenth of African Americans bettering American society from within transformed into an embrace of socialist and pan African ideas that led him far outside the American mainstream Lewis is sympathetic yet unsparing in his portrait of Du Bois, balancing his great accomplishments his encouragement of the Harlem Renaissance and publishing a classic revisionist history of Reconstruction with his personal shortcomings a prickly ego, a weakness for womanizing and a mercurial ideology Du Bois s radicalization is understandable considering the times, though it took him down some bizarre roads his lauding Imperial Japan as a champion of colored peoples, his opposition to World War II and his increasing friendliness towards Stalin and the Soviet Union made him an outcast Shunned by moderate blacks, investigated and harassed by the government he was indicted as a foreign agent, though he never went to trial he spent much of his later life abroad, dying in Ghana in August 1963 as the Civil Rights Movement back home reached its apex Like all great biographers, Lewis presents Du Bois s life, personality and ever shifting allegiances with skill, composure and objectivity he emerges as an immensely important and sympathetic figure, but a flawed one whose idealism took him in strange, not always defensible directions Excellent read, highest recommendation


  6. Matthew Rohn Matthew Rohn says:

    The Power Broker by Robert Caro changed how I feel about biography as a genre It gave me a real appreciation for how, when trying to tell the story of a place and an era, following one person who was deeply involved can be a perfect framing mechanism jumping off point for all of the context that makes this time and place worth talking about, even if you aren t particularly interested in the individual at the center I ve now finally finished David Levering Lewis two part biography of W.E.B Du The Power Broker by Robert Caro changed how I feel about biography as a genre It gave me a real appreciation for how, when trying to tell the story of a place and an era, following one person who was deeply involved can be a perfect framing mechanism jumping off point for all of the context that makes this time and place worth talking about, even if you aren t particularly interested in the individual at the center I ve now finally finished David Levering Lewis two part biography of W.E.B Du Bois Biography of a Race, 1868 1919 and 1919 1963 The Fight for Equality and the American Century and it s another phenomenal monumental project on the level of Caro s biographies and clearly deserving of its two separate Pulitzers With a lifespan reaching from the beginning of reconstruction to the height of the civil rights movement, and as the preeminent figure of black political thought for the decades of the racial nadir, Du Bois life is the ideal opportunity to trace the arc of racial politics in America in the first century after emancipation While the entire biography is deeply researched and well written, the standout portion is easily the middle half the second half of the first volume and first half of the second , covering the least often discussed era of race relations in the US, the progressive era and its aftermath Here Du Bois is at the height of his influence, working through the NAACP and The Crisis domestically and the Pan African Congresses abroad in a world rapidly being transformed by modernization and colonization with deep uncertainty about how separable these two projects were No other book I ve read since The Warmth of Other Suns has so clearly and powerfully conveyed the shape of social and cultural changes over vast expanses of time in the US and I can t recommend it enough


  7. Peter Peter says:

    What a doozy 1100 odd pages on the eventful life of sociologist, historian, activist, and man in the running as greatest American intellectual of the twentieth century, W.E.B Du Bois It s in the tradition of full dress, life and times biographies like The Power Broker and The Rascal King lots of detail, lots and lots of background on where Du Bois grew up, the histories of the settings he found himself in, the lives of people involved with his, so on and so on Du Bois went many places What a doozy 1100 odd pages on the eventful life of sociologist, historian, activist, and man in the running as greatest American intellectual of the twentieth century, W.E.B Du Bois It s in the tradition of full dress, life and times biographies like The Power Broker and The Rascal King lots of detail, lots and lots of background on where Du Bois grew up, the histories of the settings he found himself in, the lives of people involved with his, so on and so on Du Bois went many places starting in Great Barrington, going to Fisk University, Harvard, Germany for grad school, back to Harvard, Atlanta, New York, touring the world and finally ending up in Ghana He knew a lot of people It s two big books.To give even a cursory examination of Du Bois s career is beyond the scope of this review Suffice it to say he was a scholar who played a major role in founding the NAACP and in shaping civil rights discourse and activism His intellect was powerful and protean, finding outlet in sociology, history, memoirs, and novels he was also a tremendous and well organized worker He redefined the history of Reconstruction in ways that historians only caught up with forty years later, and his philosophical works like The Souls of Black Folk went a long way towards shaping race consciousness in America in the twentieth century Levering Lewis doesn t stint from the nitty gritty of Du Bois s travels one imagines his diaries were a source hard not to mine at sometimes tedious depths and of his bureaucratic battles within the Niagara Movement and its successor, the NAACP.Levering Lewis paints a picture of Du Bois as fiery, imperious, well aware of his own talents, and always fighting someone My favorite parts were those dedicated to his epochal battles to define how black politics would look with Booker T Washington, with Marcus Garvey, with Walter White, etc Washington played a game between the Jim Crow South, national authority, and the black community for which he acted as semi official spokesman, where he attempted to bargain obedience to white rule for economic advancement His struggle with Du Bois began over education Washington being almost neurotically opposed to broad liberal arts education for black people and Du Bois a staunch advocate but it quickly became a matter of broader vision for the community No sooner had Washington left the scene and the Tuskegee network started seeing thingsDu Bois s way than Marcus Garvey and the United Negro Improvement Association arise There was a viscerality to Du Bois s despisal of Garvey, the wrath of a sophisticated, highly educated man for an interloper who was neither but who undeniably had the common touch Du Bois lacked Garvey s nationalism hadthan a little of flim flammery to it but it spoke to people fed up with Jim Crow, south and north, and seeing few ways out Finally, Du Bois fought endlessly within his own organizations, the NAACP and the magazine The Crisis, and it was battle with Walter White who became the archetype of the polished, establishment friendly, legalistic civil rights advocate that finally drove him from the group.Du Bois lived a lot longer than he expected to 95 years Levering Lewis describes his politics and manner as essentially late Victorian, a product of the 1880s and 1890s, which helped define but, ironically, had trouble managing the contradictions of the twentieth century as it unfolded I would categorize his politics, insofar as I can, as Fabian a belief in a socialized economy led by a meritocratic intellectual elite He became a communist in the end, but Levering Lewis doubts how much he really believed in the destiny of the working class, though it s worth noting Du Bois put much stock in Marxist historiographical technique, as his work on Reconstruction shows Du Bois had tilted at socialists, black and white, for decades, but the Communist Party s consistent efforts at organizing black workers probably decided the question for him It was McCarthyism that drove him out of the country just as generations steeped in his thought began undertaking successful civil rights and decolonization work on both sides of the Atlantic Hounded by his government, deprived of a passport, he lived out his days under Kwame Nkrumah s aegis.Like I said, there s a lot here Apparently Du Bois was a mediocre dad and a lousy husband, a major philanderer Levering Lewis stints on neither praise nor blame and what you re left with is a picture of both complexity and greatness in the value neutral classical sense of the word great That seems appropriate All told, a solid piece of work


  8. Tim Tim says:

    After the first few sentences of this masterpiece by David Levering Lewis, it is obvious why his account of the second half of the life of Du Bois won the Pulitzer Prize For Biography Lewis possesses a writing style that has smoothness to it Page after page the life of W E B Du Bois and the thoughts of the man seem real enough to be your own provided you can accept the controversy of a figure as great as Du Bois Lewis does his best to be objective in his account of Du Bois, or I should s After the first few sentences of this masterpiece by David Levering Lewis, it is obvious why his account of the second half of the life of Du Bois won the Pulitzer Prize For Biography Lewis possesses a writing style that has smoothness to it Page after page the life of W E B Du Bois and the thoughts of the man seem real enough to be your own provided you can accept the controversy of a figure as great as Du Bois Lewis does his best to be objective in his account of Du Bois, or I should say, as objective as is possible for a historian Lewis is unafraid to show the human side of Du Bois the side that engaged in regular extra marital affairs, and the side that overlooked the atrocities committed by such variances as the governments of Japan, Stalin and Mao Du Bois is portrayed as genuine from the start He genuinely wanted to help his people, the African Americans, achieve the franchise and self determination He wanted to not only achieve this for the American Africans, but for world Africans, people of color and those of Nordic or Aryan origin, in that order Ultimately he WAS an anti imperialist He was against exploitation of all peoples by Capitalistic domination He was all for eradicating poverty wherever it may be found as he believed that to be one of the underlying causes of racism, and ultimately, war In the efforts of this noble pursuit, Du Bois was open to any system available that would allow the eradication of racism and poverty He refused, however, to be confined to a box as Lewis portrayed in the astute observation that he was A thinker whose obligation was to be dissatisfied continually with his own thoughts and those of others His study of Marxism came relatively late in life, but Lewis is very fair in his portrayal of the revolution in Russia and how it would have affected the mind of Du Bois Here was a mind looking for a way out, and he saw in the Russian, and later the Chinese, revolutions the first establishments of governments whose primary mission was stated to eradicate poverty and provide literacy, free health care, and the full benefits of the means of production to everyone To state whether or not these governments actually achieved this misses the point Du Bois was looking for a better way for his people, and did not restrict his thinking to a purely American line He even went so far as to join the Communist Party USA in his 90 s He believed that Capitalism would ultimately destroy its people and eventually itself As an alternative, he believed the only way to be one where the lower classes of society had the power As an observer of politics in America, he was ahead of his time in realizing that the two party system would never work He deplored the fact that business had so much say in government and said that a citizenry governed by Democrats and Republicans, both of which were controlled by the rich, was NOT a democracy Lewis takes the time to show that the life of a great African American thinker during the critical times of Reconstruction, the turn of the century, Jim Crow and two World Wars was not a life without adversity Sure Du Bois had an ego that could be easily bruised at times, but,often than not, he found himself and his life guarded by people with a lighter skin tone whose intelligence was merely a fraction of the man they were restricting This is a book whose tone may not agree with everyone Like Du Bois himself, some will accuse Lewis of being too radical, of not coming down hard enough on radical ideology It must be stated before you read this book that it is radical because the subject of the book is radical Historical figures like the one portrayed here challenge us in our own thinking They challenge us to re evaluate how we are living in the possibility that there IS a better way The importance of remembering not to define one s self by the currents flowing through society in the pursuit of equality is no where better stated than in the life of W E B Du Bois


  9. Karen Mead Karen Mead says:

    Lewis continues and completes his incredibly detailed, nuanced biography of one of the world s most influential and charismatic black rights activists This book was a little harder for me to follow than the first one, probably because the world that Du Bois inhabited was gettingcomplicated all the time In the time frame the book covers, you have the Roaring 20s and sadly, all the lynchings that took place during that time, as well as Southern kangaroo courts for black men , the Great D Lewis continues and completes his incredibly detailed, nuanced biography of one of the world s most influential and charismatic black rights activists This book was a little harder for me to follow than the first one, probably because the world that Du Bois inhabited was gettingcomplicated all the time In the time frame the book covers, you have the Roaring 20s and sadly, all the lynchings that took place during that time, as well as Southern kangaroo courts for black men , the Great Depression, the growing popularity of socialism, the rise of totalitarianism in Europe, World War II, and McCarthyism all covered to some extent here You can understand Du Bois growing frustration that black rights were continually ignored which, I believe, is what lead to some of hisradical beliefs later in life , while at the same time have some sympathy for those who were too distracted by the rapid pace of change to be as focused on civil rights as they should have been.Wisely, Lewis doesn t shy away from covering the areas where Du Bois proved to be, in modern parlance, on the wrong side of history The NAACP leader failed to recognize the threat presented by Nazi Germany, and was in favor of Japanese imperialism in China, among other things While contemporary readers may be tempted to hold the book at arm s length and yell The hell were you thinking, man upon discovering these views, I think it s important to recognize that Du Bois was looking at the world through a different lens than many of his contemporaries in some cases, that perspective led him to be incredibly ahead of his time in others, it led him astray, and it s interesting to ponder how and why that happened Was his apparent myopia in regard to international politics the result of his focus on civil rights, or despite it Anyway, while there s still a lot I don t know about the battle for civil rights in America, I know a hell of a lotthan before I read all about the fascinating life of WEB Du Bois I wish he were alive today I d love to know what he would think of today s crop of civil rights activists My guess is that he wouldn t be very impressed, but what can you do The Professor was a demanding guy


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W.E.B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century, 1919-1963➹ [Reading] ➻ W.E.B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century, 1919-1963 By David Levering Lewis ➮ – Centrumpowypadkowe.co.uk This monumental biography eight years in the research and writing treats the early and middle phases of a long and intense career a crucial fifty year period that demonstrates how Du Bois changed fore This monumental biography eight Bois: The PDF/EPUB æ years in the research and writing treats the early and middle phases of a long and intense career a crucial fifty year period that demonstrates how Du Bois changed forever the way Americans think about themselves.


About the Author: David Levering Lewis

David Levering Lewis is Bois: The PDF/EPUB æ the Julius Silver University Professor and Professor of History at New York University.