A History of Race in America (Du Bois and Scientific Racism, 1 of 6)

David Withun

The span of W. E. B. Du Bois’s life runs nearly from the end of slavery in the United States to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s March on Washington. Born in 1868, less than three full years after the passage of the thirteenth amendment outlawing slavery, Du Bois died on the eve of the March on Washington in 1963. At the time that he was born, most African Americans were illiterate and lived in rural areas in the South. It was commonly assumed even by those who had been dedicated abolitionists just a few years before that these black peasants in the South were naturally inferior to whites and would be ultimately unable to rise from or to greatly improve their condition. From an early point in his life, Du Bois resolved to dedicate his life to fighting against the negative assumptions and low expectations attached to African Americans. He intended…

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