ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


Home   ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)


Du Bois completed his doctoral dissertation at Harvard, The Suppression of the African Slave Trade,

which has hailed as the "first scientific historical work" written by a Negro and, because of its quality

of scholarship, achieved publication as the first volume of the new Harvard Historical Studies (1896).


Books by W.E.B. Du Bois


The Suppression of the African Slave Trade  (1896)  / The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study (1899) 


 The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches  (1903)  /  John Brown.(1909)  / The Quest of the Silver Fleece (1911) 


Darkwater: Voices Within the Veil (1920) /   Gift of Black Folk: The Negroes in the Making of America (1924)  / Dark Princess: A Romance (1928)   Black Folk, Then and Now (1939)


Color and Democracy: Colonies and Peace (1945)  / The World and Africa: An Inquiry (1947)  / In Battle for Peace (1952) // Black Reconstruction in America (1935)


A Trilogy: The Ordeal of Monsart (1957) Monsart Builds a School (1959) nd Worlds of Color (1961) / An ABC of Color: Selections (1963)


The Autobiography of W.E.B. Du Bois: A Soliloquy on Viewing My Life from the Last Decade of Its First Century (1968)

*   *   *   *   *

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)


Du Bois on Reform: Periodical-based Leadership for African Americans.

Edited and Introduced by Brian Johnson

*   *   *   *   *

The Souls of Black Folk

Essays and Sketches

By W.E.B. Du Bois



By Saunders Redding


The publication of Du Bois'  The Souls of Black Folk in 1903 was an event of major importance. It not only represented a profound change in its scholar-author's view of what was then called the "Negro problem," but heralded a new approach to social reform on the part of the American Negro people--an approach of patriotic, non-violent activism which achieved  its first success less than a decade ago. 

The boycott of the buses in Montgomery, Alabama, had many roots--the example of Gandhi's movement of passive resistance against the British in India, the precedent-making 1954 Supreme Court desegregation decision which showed that the American people as a whole were ready for racial equality, the leadership of a young Negro minister dedicated to peaceful reform--but none more important than this little book of essays published more than a half-century ago.

W. E. Burghardt Du Bois graduated from Fisk University in Nashville in 1888. Moving on to Harvard, he spent four years of graduate study in psychology, philosophy and history under some of the best minds of the age--William James, Josiah Royce, George Santayana, and Albert Bushnell Hart--and there formulated the scholarly ambition of pursuing "knowledge only." Two fruitful years followed at the University of Berlin (1892-1894) where, encouraged by the illustrious economic historian Gustav Schmoller, Du Bois came to believe that the solution to the Negro problem was "a matter of systematic investigation"--that ignorance alone was the cause of race prejudice and that scientific truth could dispel it.

Following this line of thought, Du Bois completed his doctoral dissertation at Harvard, The Suppression of the African Slave Trade, which has hailed as the "first scientific historical work" written by a Negro and, because of its quality of scholarship, achieved publication as the first volume of the new Harvard Historical Studies (1896). With characteristic versatility, Du Bois then turned from history to the study of sociology, then in its infancy, and wrote The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study , published in 1899 by the University of Pennsylvania. in the meantime he had accepted an invitation to teach sociology at Atlanta University, where he set up a program of studies of the American Negro which was to be "primarily scientific--a careful search for Truth conducted as thoroughly, broadly, and honestly as the material resources and mental equipment at command will allow." Nevertheless (as hinted in his use of the word "primarily") he was already beginning to suspect that such detached inquiry was not enough--and by 1903, the date of The Souls of Black Folk, he was asserting that truth alone did not "encourage [or] help social reform."

To understand this revolution in Du Bois' thinking one must understand what had happened to the hopes of the American Negro. The Emancipation and the period of the reconstruction following the Civil War--the period of Du Bois' childhood--had brought dreams of equality and, for a time, some actual power to the Negro. But then the dreams had set in, and by the turn of the century the dreams had been shattered, and what Du Bois saw around him was the steady--and apparently accelerating--deterioration of the position of the Negro in American life.

An almost complete disenfranchisement of the Negro had been effected in state constitutional conventions, the delegates to which were elected, as Virginia's Carter Glass declared, "to discriminate . . . with a view to the elimination of every Negro voter who can be gotten rid of, legally, without materially impairing the numerical strength of the white electorate." Anti-Negro demagogues--Tillman of South Carolina, Watson of Georgia, Vardaman of Mississippi--had become rampant, and lynchings averaged one in every three and a half days.

Negro schools, where they existed at all, were so poor that attendance made little difference in a Negro's "education"; Negro poverty and crime were increasing everywhere. And the Negro leaders? Booker T. Washington was the Negro leader; and he was measuring the statistical indices of these sobering facts with an imperturbability that seemed at times to amount to indifference. this was the situation that Du Bois saw, and--because, finally, Du Bois was only a graft on Du Bois the Negro--could not tolerate. in the face of the circumstances, he "could not [remain] a calm, cool, and detached scientist."

The Souls of Black Folk is more history-making than historical. It is, among other things, a statement of personal attitudes and principles that have determined the public career of a great man for more than half a century, a career that has profoundly influenced the thoughts and actions of thousands of people, white as well as black, abroad as well as at home.

But The Souls of Black Folk is history-making in another sense too. Peter Abrahams, the South African "colored" writer, was not alone when he said, upon first reading this book in 1948, that until then he had had no words with which to voice his Negro-ness. it had, he wrote, "the impact of a revelation . . . a key to the understanding of my world." Much earlier, the American Negro leader James Weldon Johnson stated that it had "a greater effect upon and within the Negro race in America than any other single book published in this country since Uncle Tom's Cabin." 

Thus The Souls of Black Folk may be seen as fixing that moment in history when the American Negro began to reject the idea of the world's belonging to white people only, and to think of himself, in concert, as a potential force in the organization of society. With its publication, Negroes of training and intelligence, who had hitherto pretended to regard the race problem as of strictly personal concern and who sought individual salvation in a creed of detachment and silence, found a bond in their common grievances and a language through which to express them.

In the most famous of the essays, "Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others," Du Bois writes, ". . .  the time is come when one may speak in all sincerity and utter courtesy of the mistakes and the shortcomings of Mr. Washington's career, as well as of his triumphs . . . So far as Mr. Washington preaches Thrift, Patience, and Industrial Training for the masses, we must hold up his hands and strive with him, rejoicing in his honors and glorying in the strength of this Joshua called of God and of man to lead the headless host. But so far as Mr. Washington apologizes for injustice. North or South, does not rightly value the privilege and duty of voting, belittles the emasculating effects of caste distinctions, and opposes the higher training and ambition of our brighter minds--so far as he, the South, or the Nation, does this--we must unceasingly and firmly oppose them. By every civilized and peaceful method we must strive for the rights which the world accords to men . . ." Eighteen months after these words were in print, they were confirmed by the formation of the famous Niagara Movement--the forerunner of the N.A.A.C.P.

Du Bois' words were a counterpoise to Washington's feathery phrases of compromise, and, not surprisingly were greeted with much Southern criticism. Georgia's Atlanta Constitution ran a three-column review which concluded that The Souls of Black Folk "is the thought of a negro of northern education who has lived among his brethern of the South, yet who cannot fully feel the meaning of some things which these brethern know by instinct--and which the southern-bred white knows by a similar instinct--certain things which are by both accepted as facts."

The Nashville Banner agreed, and added a warning: "This book is dangerous for the Negro to read, for it will only excite discontent and fill his imagination with things that do not exist, or things that should not bear upon his mind."

But the things about Du Bois wrote did exist--both in attitudes and in historical fact. Some of the essays, notably IV through IX, are based on the sociological studies Du Bois developed at Atlanta University. They are at once vigorous statements of the Negro's case against the prevailing white attitudes that relegated him to non-citizen status, and commendably objective analyses of that status, with postulates so sound that they are still assumed by scholars and social commentators concerned with the South.

Perhaps the most "scientific" of the essays is "Of the Dawn of Freedom" which, despite its oracular and somewhat misleading beginning ("The problem of the twentieth century is the account of the Freedman's bureau. Other essays are personal recollections and reflections, powerfully evocative of a South and a southern way of life that has not yet entirely passed. these contain some of Du Bois' best writing, and prove his extraordinary skill at adapting academic learning to the use of figurative prose. They remind us once again that neither bitter anger nor desperate rebelliousness--both charged against him--were the ruling passions of Du Bois' young life.

One essay, "Of Alexander Crummell," is a eulogy of the character and services of one of Du Bois' early heroes. It is a laud, veritably a song of praise. Another, "Of the Coming of John," is a short story, almost a parable in tone and in intent. in a few, the literary charm--so highly praised by some of the friendly contemporary reviews--so highly praised by some of the friendly contemporary reviews--may now seem a bit obtrusive, but in most the manner is a perfect fir to the matter. And the matter is, always, a "gift our cheer, and warning have been given to this nation in blood-brotherhood."

It is impossible to say finally what makes a literary classic, for no two are alike. no two are alike for the simplest and best of reasons: each is the expression of an individual, of a particular genius. Classics have only this in common--they minister to universal emotional needs; they supply something vital to the universal emotional needs; they supply something vital to the universal intellect. The Souls of Black Folk does this by expressing the soul of one people in a time of great stress, and showing its kinship with the timeless soul of all mankind. The Souls of Black Folk will go on doing this. Not counting the Europeans, this is the twenty-sixth edition. It will not be the last.

Source: W.E. Burghardt Du Bois. The Souls of Black Folk: Essay and Sketches. NY: Fawcett Publications, Inc., 1961. Introduction by Saunders Redding.

*   *   *   *   *

Other Writings


The Conservation of Races (Washington, D.C.: American Negro Academy, 1897).

Africa: Its Geography, People and Products (Girard, Kansas: Haldeman-Julius, 1930).

Africa: Its Place in Modern History (Girard, Kansas: Haldeman-Julius, 1930).

Dusk 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)

W.E.B. Du Bois Speaks: Speeches and Addresses, edited by Philip S. Foner (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1970).

W.E.B. Du Bois: The Crisis Writing, editing by Daniel Walden (Greenwich, Conn.: Fawcett, 1972).

The Emerging Thought of W.E.B. Du Bois: Essays and Editorials From "The Crisis," edited by Henry Lee Moon (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1972)

The Education of Black People: Ten Critiques, 1906-1960, edited by Herbert Aptheker (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1973.

*   *   *   *   *


Jay Saunders Redding (1906?-1988)—scholar, educator, and man of letters—was born in Wilmington, Delaware, the third of seven children in a upper-class Negro family. His father Lewis Alfred and his mother Mary Ann Holmes were both graduates of Howard University, and political and social activists within the Wilmington black community. One of Redding's teachers at the all-black Howard High School in Wilmington was the widow of Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Alice Dunbar-Nelson who was a pioneering black female writer. Redding attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania for one year (1922) and then continued his studies at Brown University. At Brown, he received his A.B. in 1928 and his M.A. in 1932. In 1929, Redding married Esther Elizabeth James, an educator; together they had two sons, Conway and Lewis. Saunders Redding has taught at Morehouse (1928-1931), Louisville Municipal College (1934-1936), Southern University in New Orleans (1936-1938), Elizabeth Teachers College, North Carolina (1938-1943), Hampton (1943-1967), Brown (1949-1950; the first black to teach at an Ivy League university); Duke (1964-1965), George Washington University (1968-1970). He retired at Cornell (1970-1981), where he was Ernest I. White Professor Emeritus (the first black to hold an endowed professorship in literary criticism at an Ivy League university).

Redding has been on the editorial board of The American Scholar. His writings were published in The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, The American Mercury, Transition, the Nation, Saturday Review, New Republic, Survey Graphic, and other periodicals.


To Make a Poet Black. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1939.

No Day of Triumph. New York: Harper, 1942.

Stranger and Alone. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1950.

On Being Negro in America. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1951.

An American in India: A Personal Report on the Indian Dilemma and the Nature of Her Conflicts. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1954.

The Lonesome Road: The Story of the Negro's Part in America. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1958.

The Negro. Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books, 1967.

Other Relevant Books

The New Cavalcade: African American writing from 1760 to the Present  / Good Morning, Revolution (1974)

From the Dark Tower (1981) by Arthur P. Davis and To Make a Poet Black (1988) by J. Saunders Redding with an Introduction by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

*   *   *   *   *

Irredeemable Promise: J. Saunders Redding and Negro New Liberalism

Excerpt by Lawrence Jackson


I picked up a book which I have by-passed on Library shelves for years. J. Saunders Redding’s No Day of Triumph. Don’t you find interesting, when you [sic] rereading it today, Richard Wright’s introduction? The book itself, after the biographical chapters at the beginning, is a marvel so full is it of rich material. Where is he now?—Julian Mayfield, letter to John Henrik Clarke, 6 July 1955

Toward the end of a 30-year publishing career, the 53-year-old writer, literary critic, and English professor James Saunders Redding (1905–88) brimmed with a capstone project. He wanted a leading house to publish his second and unwritten novel, a book that would redeem his career and confirm as worthwhile his efforts as a writer and teacher of literature. That early winter of 1959, Redding was going into his fifteenth year teaching English at a small college in coastal Virginia and wondering about posterity’s opinion about him. The fretting that Redding showed that year was one he had displayed his whole writing life and it was difficult for others to understand because he had already experienced unequivocal success as a writer.

He had published long essays in Harper’s and Atlantic Monthly. Time magazine had reviewed his books and carried his photograph, along with the Saturday Review of Literature. Redding had cornered literary prizes, like North Carolina’s Mayflower Cup, awards noticeable enough that Allen Dulles’s Department of State asked him to represent the US on an extended tour of India as that country emerged from British satrapy to world power. Redding’s second book No Day of Triumph (1942) had been published by Harpers and reviewed all over the nation. By 1951, he held a post on the editorial board of the Phi Beta Kappa journal American Scholar. His first novel, Stranger and Alone (1950), had been widely reviewed and, generally, deemed significant. But when he put out feelers to publish the second novel, he did not generate the excitement of a well-known writer, prizewinner, and potential best-seller.

Gloomy and filled with a sense of foreboding, Redding reacted like any well-connected writer in a similar situation. He wrote his most powerful friends to steady him. On New Year’s Day 1959, Redding sent a note to Henry Allen Moe, the man who had headed the Guggenheim Foundation for more than 20 years. In the letter, he chronicled his interminable delays before coming to terms with Bennet Cerf of Random House, perhaps the most prized among the New York literary publishers. Moe had authorized a fellowship for Redding in 1944 and was in a position to offer another grant so that Redding could finish his project.

The professor was disappointed that it had taken a year and a half to relieve himself of a contract clause from the earnest Midwestern publisher Bobbs-Merrill. Finally, Redding was clear to write a book he had started thinking about in the early 1950s. And, judging from the evidence, it worked. In March that year, another Guggenheim went to Redding. He would call the new novel Cross and Crown. To friends like Moe, Redding offered a straightforward program for the novel: it would be a sequel. “My plan can be stated simply: it is to write a novel in which the protagonist of Stranger and Alone is again the protagonist and in which he brings about his redemption.”1 The redemption of his own identity as an American figured highly in the mind of J. Saunders Redding.

However, in the words that Redding had once used to deride the “new criticism” literary movement of the 1940s, all his work on the novel came to nothing. Even with equally prestigious fellowship and publisher’s contract, he spent his years mainly turning himself into a better spokesman. For the liberal arts colleges, he prepared a lecture series on international affairs called “People, Policy and Propaganda.” Redding traveled the country and fielded more lucrative job offers than the one he had at Hampton Institute.

The five chapters of Cross and Crown he had written would remain buried in the desk of his upper room.—Emory

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

The Price of Civilization

Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity

By Jeffrey D. Sachs

The Price of Civilization is a book that is essential reading for every American. In a forceful, impassioned, and personal voice, he offers not only a searing and incisive diagnosis of our country’s economic ills but also an urgent call for Americans to restore the virtues of fairness, honesty, and foresight as the foundations of national prosperity. Sachs finds that both political parties—and many leading economists—have missed the big picture, offering shortsighted solutions such as stimulus spending or tax cuts to address complex economic problems that require deeper solutions. Sachs argues that we have profoundly underestimated globalization’s long-term effects on our country, which create deep and largely unmet challenges with regard to jobs, incomes, poverty, and the environment. America’s single biggest economic failure, Sachs argues, is its inability to come to grips with the new global economic realities. Sachs describes a political system that has lost its ethical moorings, in which ever-rising campaign contributions and lobbying outlays overpower the voice of the citizenry. . . . Sachs offers a plan to turn the crisis around. He argues persuasively that the problem is not America’s abiding values, which remain generous and pragmatic, but the ease with which political spin and consumerism run circles around those values. He bids the reader to reclaim the virtues of good citizenship and mindfulness toward the economy and one another.

*   *   *   *   *


The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788

By Pauline Maier

A notable historian of the early republic, Maier devoted a decade to studying the immense documentation of the ratification of the Constitution. Scholars might approach her book’s footnotes first, but history fans who delve into her narrative will meet delegates to the state conventions whom most history books, absorbed with the Founders, have relegated to obscurity. Yet, prominent in their local counties and towns, they influenced a convention’s decision to accept or reject the Constitution. Their biographies and democratic credentials emerge in Maier’s accounts of their elections to a convention, the political attitudes they carried to the conclave, and their declamations from the floor. The latter expressed opponents’ objections to provisions of the Constitution, some of which seem anachronistic (election regulation raised hackles) and some of which are thoroughly contemporary (the power to tax individuals directly). Ripostes from proponents, the Federalists, animate the great detail Maier provides, as does her recounting how one state convention’s verdict affected another’s. Displaying the grudging grassroots blessing the Constitution originally received, Maier eruditely yet accessibly revives a neglected but critical passage in American history.—Booklist

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *

*   *   *   *   *

 ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)





update 26 February 2012




Home  WEB Du Bois Table   Du Bois Chronology