The Souls of Black Folk

An analysis of W.E.B. Du Bois’s book, The Souls of Black Folk, and its inspiration of civil rights activists.

This paper examines how, first published in 1903, W.E.B. Du Bois’s groundbreaking book, “The Souls of Black Folk”, is a compendium of wisdom on the subject of race in America. It looks at how, with deft prose and insightful sociological and spiritual wisdom, Du Bois criticizes the failure of American democracy in delivering true equality to blacks. In particular, it shows how his bold assessment of the mainstream, white-supported views of Booker T. Washington in Chapter Three has challenged the very core of black identity and forced a more thorough, holistic, and realistic vision of race relations in America.
“The Souls of Black Folk is designed to steer African-Americans toward a healthy self-consciousness and self-conception. It is also written to illustrate the myth of emancipation, which might have ended the southern plantation aristocracy but did nothing to end the underlying beliefs in the inferiority of blacks. Furthermore, since slavery was officially abolished, blacks continue to dwell in poverty in a land of plenty; they continue to be violently and subtly persecuted wherever they walk; they suffer from inequality in almost every arena of American life.”