Books by W.E.B. Du Bois
Suppression of the African
Slave Trade (1896) /
Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study (1899)
Souls of Black Folk:
Essays and Sketches
Quest of the Silver Fleece
Voices Within the Veil
Gift of Black Folk: The Negroes in the Making
of America (1924)
Dark Princess: A Romance
Black Reconstruction in America
Black Folk, Then and Now
Color and Democracy: Colonies and Peace
The World and Africa: An Inquiry
In Battle for Peace
The Ordeal of Monsart
a School (1959) /
Worlds of Color (1961)
An ABC of Color:
Autobiography of W.E.B. Du Bois: A Soliloquy on Viewing
My Life from the Last
Decade of Its First
* * *
Shirley Graham Du Bois,
His Day Is Marching On: A Memoir of
W.E. B. Du Bois (1971)
Leslie Alexander Lacy.
The Life of W.E.B. Du Bois:
Cheer the Lonesome Traveler (1970)
Brian Johnson, ed.
Bois on Reform: Periodical-based
Leadership for African Americans.
* * * *
Speaks to Africa
My only role in this meeting is one of advice
from one who has lived long, who has studied Africa and has seen
the modern world. I had hoped to deliver this word in person,
but this was not possible. I have therefore asked my wife,
Shirley Graham, to read it to you. It is simple and
In this great crisis of the world's history,
when standing on the highest peaks of human accomplishment we
look forward to peace and backward to War; when we look up to
Heaven and down to Hell, let us mince no words. We face triumph
or tragedy without alternative. Africa, ancient Africa has been
called by the world and has lifted up her hands!
Which way shall Africa go? First, I would
emphasize the fact that today Africa has no choice between
private Capitalism and Socialism. the whole world, including
Capitalist countries, is moving towards Socialism, inevitably,
inexorably. You can choose between blocs of military alliance,
you can choose between groups of political union, you cannot
choose between Socialism and private Capitalism, because private
ownership of capital is doomed.
But what is Socialism? It is disciplined
economy and political organization in which the first duty of a
citizen is to serve the state; and the state is not a selected
aristocracy, or a group of self-seeking oligarchs who have
seized wealth and power. No! The mass of workers with hand and
brain are the ones whose collective destiny is the chief object
of all effort.
Gradually, every state is coming to this
concept of its aim. The great Communist states like the Soviet
Union and China have surrendered completely to this idea. The
Scandinavian states have yielded partially; Britain has yielded
in some respects, France in part and even the United States
adopted the New Deal which was largely socialistic, even though
today further American Socialism is held at bay by 60 great groups of
corporations who control individual capitalists and the
On the other hand, the African tribe, whence
all of you sprung, was communistic in its very beginnings. No
tribesman was free. All were servants of the tribe of whom the
chief was father and voice. Read of the West Coast trade as
described by Casely-Hayford: There is small trace of private
enterprise or individual initiative. It was the tribe which
carried on trade through individuals, and the chief was
mouthpiece of the common will.
Here then, my brothers, you face your great
decision: Will you for temporary advantage--for automobiles,
refrigerators and Paris gowns--spend your income in paying
interest on borrowed funds, or will you sacrifice present
comfort and the chance to shine before your neighbors in order
to educate your children, develop such industry as best serves
the great mass of people and makes your country strong in
ability, self-support and self-defense?
Such union of effort for strength calls for
sacrifice and self-denial, while the capital offered you at high
price by the colonial powers like France, Britain, Holland,
Belgium and the United States, will prolong fatal colonial
imperialism, from which you have suffered slavery, serfdom and
You are not helpless. You are the buyers of
capital goods, nations, former owners of the world, must sell or
face bankruptcy. You are not compelled to buy all they offer
now. you can wait. you can starve a while longer rather than
sell your great heritage for a mess of Western capitalistic
You cannot only beat down the price of
capital as offered by the united and monopolized Western private
capitalists, but at last today you can compare their offers with
those of socialistic countries like the Soviet Union and China,
which with infinite sacrifice and pouring out of blood and
tears, are at last able to offer weak nations needed capital on
better terms than the West.
The supply which socialist nations can at
present spare is small as compared with that of the bloated
monopolies of the West, but it is larger and rapidly growing.
Its acceptance involves no bonds which a free Africa may not
safely assume. It certainly does not involve slavery and
colonial control which is the price which the West has demanded,
and still demands.
Today she offers a compromise, but one of
which you must beware: She offers to let some of your smarter
and less scrupulous leaders become fellow capitalists with the
white exploiters, if in turn they induce the nation's masses to
pay the awful cost. This has happened in the West Indies and in
south America. this may yet happen in the Middle East and
Eastern Asia. Strive against it with every fibre of your bodies
and souls. A body of local private capitalists, even if they are
black, can never free Africa; they will simply sell it into new
slavery to old masters overseas.
As I have said, this is a call for sacrifice.
Great Goethe sang, "Entbehren sollst du, sollst
entbehren" -- "Thou shalt forego, shalt do
without." If Africa unites it will be because each part,
each nation, each tribe gives up a part of its heritage for the
good of the whole.
This is what union means; that is what
Pan-Africa means: When the child is born into the tribe the
price of his growing up is to give over a part of the freedom to
the tribe. this he soon learns or dies. When the tribe becomes a
union of tribes, the individual tribe surrenders some part of
its freedom to the paramount tribe.
When the nation arises, the constituent
tribes, clans and groups must each yield power and much freedom
to the demands of the nation or the nation dies before it is
born. Your local tribal, much-loved languages must yield to the
few world tongues which serve the largest numbers of people and
promise understanding and world literature.
This is the great dilemma which faces Africa
today; faces one and all: Give up individual rights for the
needs of the nation; give up tribal independence for the needs
of Mother Africa. Firget nothing but set everything in its
rightful place: the Glory of the six Ashanti Wars against
Britain; the wisdom of the Fanti Confederation; the unity of
Nigeria; the song of the Songhay and Hausa; the rebellion of the
Mahdi and the hands of Ethiopia; the greatness of the Basuto and
the fighting of Chaka; the revenge of Mutessa, and many other
happenings and men; but above all--Africa, Mother of Men.
Your nearest friends and neighbors are the
colored people of China and India, the rest of Asia, the Middle
East and the sea isles, once close bound to the heart of Africa
and now long severed by the greed of Europe. Your bond is no
mere color of skin but the deeper experience of wage slavery and
So too, your bond with the white world is
closer to those like the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics,
who support and defend China and help the slaves of Tibet and
India, and not those who exploit the Middle East, the West
Indies, and South America.
Awake, awake, put on thy strength, O Zion,
reject the meekness of missionaries who teach neither love nor
brotherhood, but emphasize the virtues of private profit from
capital, stolen from your land and labor. Africa awake, put on
the beautiful robes of Pan-African Socialism.
You have nothing to lose but your
You have a continent to regain!
You have freedom and human dignity to attain!
* * * *
Shirley Graham Du Bois (1907-1977), whom W. E. B. Du
Bois married in 1951, after the death of his first wife, Nina
Gomer Du Bois, Graham's
His Day Is Marching On: A Memoir of
W.E. B. Du Bois (1971) contains much anecdotal information
about Du Bois' 1958-59 trip to Soviet bloc countries. See
letter to Yolande.
Source: Leslie Alexander Lacy.
The Life of W.E.B. Du Bois:
Cheer the Lonesome Traveler. New York: The Dial Press, 1970.
* * * * *
Conservation of Races (Washington, D.C.: American Negro
Its Geography, People and Products (Girard, Kansas:
Its Place in Modern History (Girard, Kansas: Haldeman-Julius,
of Dawn: An Essay Toward a History of the Part Which Black Folk
Played in the Attempt to Reconstruct Democracy in America,
1860-1880 (New York: Holt, 1939)
Du Bois Speaks: Speeches and Addresses, edited by Philip
S. Foner (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1970).
Du Bois: The Crisis Writing, editing by Daniel Walden
(Greenwich, Conn.: Fawcett, 1972).
Emerging Thought of W.E.B. Du Bois: Essays and Editorials From
"The Crisis," edited by Henry Lee Moon (New York:
Simon & Schuster, 1972)
Education of Black People: Ten Critiques, 1906-1960,
edited by Herbert Aptheker (Amherst: University of Massachusetts
* * * *
Some Noise—Documentary on
contemporary music from Africa
posted 7 November 2007