UMass Amherst
Du Bois: Activist Life
I sought in these years to know my world and to teach youth the meaning and way of the world. I met again and in different guise those curious cross-currents and inner social whirlings. They set me to groping. I concluded that I did not know so much as I might about my own people.
-- W.E.B. Du Bois
Returning to America, Du Bois taught briefly at Wilberforce University in Ohio, where his earnest dedication to scientific sociology had little room for expression. He then undertook a commission from the University of Pennsylvania to compile a study of the black community in Philadelphia. Despite discrimination and condescension from university faculty, Du Bois produced the monumental Philadelphia Negro -- the first scientific study of urban blacks in America.

The achievement of Du Bois' Philadelphia study was the beginning of his reputation as a sociologist. He accepted an offer from Atlanta University in 1897 to teach History and Economics. There, Du Bois planned a long-range series of studies dealing with the issues and problems that faced black Americans. The result was the Atlanta University Studies, which was one of the first continuous sociological surveys in the United States. Du Bois hoped that through scientific inquiry, the oppressive conditions of black Americans could be brought to world attention and that the shadows of racial prejudice could be dispelled by the light of reason. But after almost ten years of patient research, Du Bois was shocked into action by the Atlanta Riot of 1906. Disinterested scientific investigation was not enough. He began to see that direct social action was needed to counter the political and economic oppressions that stood in the way of black aspirations.

Atlanta University studies program While at Atlanta University, Du Bois planned a long-range series of studies dealing with the issues and problems that faced black Americans.

Du Bois in paris Exposition, 1900 Du Bois at the Paris International Exposition in 1900 where he won a gold medal for his exhibit on the achievement of black Americans.

Du Bois and Nina Gomer with son Burghardt Du Bois met Nina Gomer while at Wilberforce and they were married in 1896. Their first child, Burghardt, died as an infant in Atlanta from a typhoid epidemic.

Du Bois at Atlanta University, 1909 Du Bois at Atlanta University, 1909.

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