The landmark book about being black in America, now in an expanded edition commemorating the 150th anniversary of W. E. B. Du Bois’s birth and featuring a new introduction by Ibram X. Kendi, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of How to Be an Antiracist, and cover art by Kadir Nelson
“The problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line.”
When The Souls of Black Folk was first published in 1903, it had a galvanizing effect on the conversation about race in America—and it remains both a touchstone in the literature of African America and a beacon in the fight for civil rights. Believing that one can know the “soul” of a race by knowing the souls of individuals, W. E. B. Du Bois combines history and stirring autobiography to reflect on the magnitude of American racism and to chart a path forward against oppression, and introduces the now-famous concepts of the color line, the veil, and double-consciousness.
This edition of Du Bois’s visionary masterpiece includes two additional essays that have become essential reading: “The Souls of White Folk,” from his 1920 book Darkwater, and “The Talented Tenth.”
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It is awe inspiring and yet heartbreaking that in 1903 W.E.B. Du Bois could so masterfully identify and unpack the struggles of Black America and caution against what would come in the future if the issues were not addressed. From this future point of view, we can see just how timeless and correct his insights were. Du Bois is the real-life Harry Seldon charting a course of a Foundationn of promise for the Black population.
The thread of the critical and pressing need for the access and funding of education for all, rings like a bitter echo against the daily news of cuts to and limiting of education today. Additionally, Dubois identified then what is plainly true today, the access to the ballot box is the definitive path to self determination as a human being, as a people, and as a nation. Without it, we are disenfranchised and dehumanized.
For all of the pain and misery shared, there is still so much beauty in his style and visionary perspective. Through eloquent and moving prose, Dubois captures the beauty of a people who look to some semblance of a better tomorrow despite all of the bitter yesterdays. He captures the sacrifices and gifts of Black America to an ungrateful nation. All of this with only one ask, can you not see me as your brother?