Black Nationalism and SocialismJune 28, 2021
Du Bois’ Black nationalism took various forms.
The first and foremost of these was Pan-Africanism, of which he was one of the leading proponents. In this view, all people of African descent had common interests and should work together in the struggle for freedom. Du Bois, who was the leader of the first Pan-African Conference convened in London in 1900, was also the architect of the four Pan-African Congresses (PACs) held between 1919-1927. A second nationalism he expressed was of a cultural nature. As the editor-in-chief of Crisis, he encouraged the development of Black literature and art and urged his readers to see Beauty in Black. A third form of Du Bois’s Black nationalism is seen in his belief that Blacks should develop a group economy of producer and consumer cooperatives as a weapon against economic segregation and Black poverty. This view of Du Bois, which gained particular importance during the economic depression of the 1930s, precipitated the emergence of an ideological conflict within the NAACP.
Du Bois left the NAACP and the editorship of Crisis in 1934, accusing it of ignoring the problems of the masses and serving the interests of the Black bourgeoisie. His interest in cooperatives was part of his nationalism that stemmed from his Marxist leanings. As we entered the 20th century, Du Bois advocated Black capitalism and Black support of Black entrepreneurs. But around 1905 he turned to socialist teachings. In 1912, though he was only briefly a member of the Socialist Party, he remained close to Marxism until his death.
After leaving the NAACP, he returned to Atlanta University to devote the next 10 years to teaching and research. In 1940 he founded Phylon, Atlanta University’s journal of race and culture. In 1945 he published the preparatory volume of a draft Black encyclopedia, for which he was appointed editor-in-chief. He also wrote two important books during this period. Black Reconstruction: An Essay Toward a History of the Part Which Black Folk Played in the Attempt to Reconstruct Democracy in America, 1860-1880 (1935) 1860-1880) was an important Marxist interpretation of the Reconstruction Period (1865-1877), in which the Southern states that left the Union after the American Civil War were reorganized in accordance with the wishes of Congress. The real significance of this work was that it was the first to synthesize existing information about Black people at this critical time in American history. In 1940, De Bois’s book Dusk of Dawn: An Essay Toward an Autobiography of a Race Concept was published. revealed its changing and complex sides; He explained his own role in the African and African-American freedom struggles.
After 10 productive years at Atlanta University, he once again took up a research position at the NAACP. This brief affiliation with the NAACP ended in a second violent conflict in 1948. Du Bois then shifted constantly to the left in his political views and writings. Considered pro-Soviet, Du Bois was accused in 1951 of being an unofficial agent of a foreign state. Although a federal judge had acquitted him, he was now more disillusioned with the United States than ever before. He received the Lenin Peace Prize in 1958. Du Bois, who joined the Communist Party in 1961 and left the United States and settled in Ghana, refused American citizenship a year later.
The two major biographies published are Francis L. Broderick’s W.E.B. Du Bois: Nrgro Leader in a Time of Crisis (1959; W.E.B. Du Bois: The Negro Leader of the Depression) and Elliot M. Rudwick’s W.E.B. Du Bois: Propagandist of the Negro Protest (1968; W.E.B. Du Bois: Propagandist of the Negro Protest)
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook