He was born on February 23, 1868 in the village of Great Barrington, Massachusetts and became the first African-American to receive a Ph.D from Harvard. Following this, he was to spend many years studying the lives and situations of African-Americans, applying social science to problems of race relations.
He was to become one of the more notable political activists on behalf of African-Americans. A contemporary of Booker T. Washington, he argued with the latter in print about African-American acceptance of issues such as segregation. In 1905, Du Bois helped to found the Niagara Movement, and in 1909 he helped to found the NAACP. In 1910, he left his teaching post at Atlanta University to work as publications director at the NAACP.
In his later years, W. E. B. Du Bois became increasingly disillusioned with both black capitalism and the United States. He emigrated to Ghana in 1961 and joined the Communist Party there. He died on August 27, 1963 in Ghana.
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"I sit with Shakespeare, and he winces not. Across the color line I move arm and arm with Balzac and Dumas, where smiling men and welcoming women glide in gilded halls. From out of the caves of evening that swing between the strong-limbed Earth and the tracery of stars, I summon Aristotle and Aurelius and what soul I will, and they come all graciously with no scorn nor condescension. So, wed with Truth, I dwell above the veil."