thumbnail of W.E.B. DuBois (Episode 10 of 14); Black power origins
Hide -
This transcript was received from a third party and/or generated by a computer. Its accuracy has not been verified. If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+.
Debbie Burkhardt Dubois nationalism or socialism militancy or liberal integration assimilation or immigration. They are for American freedom struggle has forever been bogged down in categorizing pigeonholing and indiscriminate labeling. The record of WCB boys is conclusive testimony to the fact that this has been unnecessary that a dynamic mixture of goals programs and ends has been possible. Himself one of the most labelled and misunderstood the boys at one time or another in his long life championed causes that were indicative of integration nationalism and socialism. To understand the political philosophy of this band one has to go back to his youth to the formative years of his before the turn of the century. Raised in Massachusetts he was isolated from the nigger world and socially at odds with the white world around him. He went to Fisk University in 1888 for college training and an opportunity to discover his own people. He had a summer teaching job in rural Tennessee which brought him in contact with the black majority the farming poor. He approached these people
within the US of an outsider and also with a desire to find roots and a sense of belonging. He saw beneath the surface suffering and unhappiness and looked instead at the essential worth and value of Afro-Americans that the righteousness of their hopes and strivings. Dubois came to believe that quote justice lies with the lowest with the plight of the lowest man. The plight of the black man as a 25 year old graduate student he would write in his private diary that he would soon move out into the world at large and work for the rise of the Negro people taking for granted that their best development means the best development of the world. Or as he expressed it in later years quote belief in humanity is but a belief in a colored man. This inspiration of his was the basis of his thesis written in 1908 that quote the problem of the 20th century was the problem of the color line the relation of the darker to the lighter races of man in Asia Africa America and the islands of the sea. Subsequent
writings would build this thesis to the stature of an ideology of color. De Boer's has consistently favored programs with future possibilities over programs of immediate benefit. At the turn of the century he was a young professor just embarking on a 10 year project of sociological research which would be known as the Atlantic University publications on race. He hoped his studies would aid scholars and political activists alike in devising a way ahead for the next row then suffering the worst of kook Klux Klan terror to franchise mentum restriction of civil liberties. At the turn of the century to Boyson vision the development of a talented tenth and intellectual elite which would lead the race in an eventual fight for full citizenship for the time being the education and training of future leaders would be achieved through existing segregated facilities. That is the boys would create power within segregated negro society in order to eventually eliminate segregation.
The famous battle of the boys with Booker T Washington was not really over Washington's condoning segregation it was that Washington's program left the Negroni politically powerless and hence socially and economically inferior. Justice for the black man demanded full equality. The moral issue was not the evil of negroes acting alone with other nick rose it was inequality. The Niagara Movement sponsored by De Boer's in 1905 was a black only organization. It was dissolved and replaced by the end of the ICP not because it was morally wrong but because it had no source of funds and its supporters among Negroes were too few for it to go alone. The boy was presented many of his avant garde views through his life time with a rhetoric of the careful and considerate logician of his thoroughly intellectualize presentations rarely attracted the immediate enthusiasm of the masses or the proselytizers of
the masses. It usually took a decade or two. He was virtually alone as a Negra when he joined the Socialist Party in 1903 and it could be argued that he was 20 years ahead of its time when he endorsed the Democrat Woodrow Wilson for president in 1912. He gave us his reasons at that time the signs of a new democratic party based working class movement in northern cities which coupled with the emergence of a. New. Labor movement would make possible black and white labor unity. He did not go into details about how this unity would be achieved but he did say in 1912. We are willing to risk a trial he later re granted gambling on the Virginia born Wilson. The De Boer's initiative in the Pan African Congress of 1919 has been hailed as a radical and farsighted call for the end of colonialism. It was more farsighted than radical. Describing his plans for the Congress the boys
noted that they had in them quote Nothing spectacular or revolutionary. Quote If in decades or a century they resulted in such World Organization of Black man as would oppose a united front to Europeans aggression that certainly would not have been beyond my dream. What I wanted to do was to sit down hand-in-hand with colored groups and across the counsel table to learn of each other our condition our aspirations our chance for concerted thought and action out of this there might come not race war and opposition but broader cooperation with the white rulers of the world and a chance for a peaceful and accelerated development of black folk and quote. Defo fillets goal the Pan African Congress movement had to work through available channels which were in 1919 quite limited even to have a Congress then was a progressive step and an achievement hounded from one hotel to another the delegates were fearful of an American Government intervention of American officials pressuring the French into banning the Congress altogether
conceived in haste with delegates assembled on the spot. The Pan African Congress in 1900 was nonetheless an impressive assembly. The 57 delegates represented American Negroes West Indians in various parts of Africa. They drew up a set of proposed amendments to the League of Nations charter their final draft called for the creation of a civil rights plank the abolition of servitude the guarantee of African participation in colonial government and the setting aside of former German African territories as a trust of the League of Nation. The mandate system of the league incorporated much of the latter demand. When the boys return from France in 1900 he was probably the single most important American Negro militant. He was widely known not only for his writings and teaching but also for his oratory. He had just returned from abroad when he went to Washington D.C. to be a guest speaker at the monthly Bethel Literary Society of a
leading DC church. He was rarely averse to such engagements when time permitted. His introduction by fellow Pan African delegate Debbie aged Jernigan were followed. By A. Five minute ovation after which Dubois spoke as described in the Washington baby quote with the earnestness of a man who was conscious of the responsibility which is his and helping the race to make its way against an organized opposition of the white world. In reverent tones the bee implied to boys to be something of a mass leader. This seemed never was although in 1919 it was certainly an individual with status and prestige among the masses and concerning that US and Christy's de Boys had a role in 1919 a rising competitor and Marcus Garvey. The two men disliked each other intensely and in the long struggle between them there appears good justification for the explanation of personal
jealousy as the prime cause of their mutual animosity. In general the deid boys be few to him be boiled partly ideological causes. Partly a problem of mutual jealousy and partly the result of Garvey's inability to accept criticism coupled with the DuBois penchant to play the gadfly and critic. Dubois first took on Garvey in 1920 the year before that he had been brought up with Booker T Washington successor Emmett Scott and the year before that the FMLA been the object of the boy's wrath. The boys had declared on the bell quote in the present union movement as represented by the American Federation of Labor there was absolutely no hope of justice for an American Negro descent indictments of AFL discrimination continued throughout the day between the wars period. But this was not assigned to boys was anti-union and neither was the
anti nationalists because of derogatory remarks he made about Garvey. The verbal brawl between the boys and Garvey was not for ordained or inevitable in 1015 the boys had traveled to Jamaica and was hosted with honor by the then Jamaica based UN IAF Garvey. Even during the hostile years of the early 20s Dubois managed to find value in certain Garvey's plans. Quote The main lines of which were perfectly feasible. Garvey was interpreted by De Boer's as arguing that quote American Negroes can by accumulating in a ministering their own capital organize industry join the black centers of the South Atlantic by commercial enterprise and in this way ultimately redeem Africa to the boys. This was feasible. The general goals of the garbage movement were one thing the personality and actions of its leader were quite another. In this area De Boer's lost his objective decorum in one crisis editorial
Garvey was tabbed a quote little fat black man ugly but with intelligent eyes and a big head. Another editorial the indignant editor sputtered Marcus Garvey is without doubt the most dangerous enemy of the Negro race in America and the world. He is either a lunatic or a traitor. In addition to the personality clash the boy's supposed Garvey's for Taisha of the Ku Klux Klan and back to Africa schemed the business proceedings of the Black Star Line animosity of Garvey to the labor movement and last but not least the Jamaicans disliking for a light skin niggas rose. A group of witch boys was a member. The boy has himself moved increasingly into a nationalistic position in the 1930s. His emotion toward Garvey was then replaced by a detached observation. The leadership qualities of the Jamaican were most remembered feature in a biographical sketch
written by the boys in 1940. The Garvey movement it's described in 1940 was a quote grandiose and bombastic scheme but it was sincere and had some practical features and Garvey proved not only an astonishing popular leader but a master of propaganda. Within a few years news of his movement of his promises and plans reached Europe and Asia and penetrated every corner of Africa. De Boer's could appreciate the successful dissemination of a worthy idea. He evaluated his editing of the end of the magazine the crisis as a work of a capable quote propagandist quote. The Garvey method of propaganda seemed to effect more people. The boys had entered the garbage era of 1919 with a tight connection to the gamut of NWA Sepi liberalism.
Denouncing lynchings and fighting legal battles. It was then thought to be avant garde militancy. By 1930 the boys had become disillusioned with the achievements of the end of the ICP and also discouraged with the prospects of meaningful help from any white American either liberal or left wing. With the coming of the depression the reservations. About America became the dominant theme of his writing action. Of course the nationalistic tendency and boys had been present back at the turn of the century and his color line thesis. And in one thousand twenty five in an article for Elaine Locke's new Nigro anthology The boys made an explicit reiteration of the color line thesis. He summarized it as valid then as it had been a quarter century earlier. He gave some examples. One involved labor strikes then occurring in South Africa. The white workers were engaged in better class struggle with the capitalist explorers for what
and for the right to exclude native South Africans from all skilled jobs in the mining industry of that country. The Bantu were forced to appeal to the Imperial English Government for assistance from the oppressor the white laborer. Another example concerned the Congo and the socialist foreign minister of Belgium who was well intentioned toward the Congolese but inept at doing anything about his country's imperialism. The Dubois novel Dark Princess written in one thousand twenty eight contained a strident anti white pro color emphasis particularly in a scene depicting the civilised leaders of the Afro-Asian world who were meeting to discuss the fate of the decadent Western world which must just drive as collapsing in an orgy of materialistic debauchery. The Afro-Asian leaders of the day Asian aristocrats Arab sultans and traditional African chieftains discussed at length the days ahead when they would bring to the world culture Grace sensuality respect for elders and true civilization. And as for the boy was the nationalism of the 30s it
was in large part an expression of frustration directed at white laborers and their leftist allies. America seemed unaware that no matter how many whites became unemployed and on relief negroes retained twice the percentage out of working on the dole. Numerous crisis articles documented this fact in the face of this emergency whites offered little to the Nigro and concentrated on saving themselves. De Boer's was led to express the view common to Garvey ism that the American white majority had definite gains to be made to racist exploitation to socialist and communist arguments that racism was caused by ignorance. Dubois replied quote The White American laborers are not fools and with few exceptions the more intelligent they are the higher they rise the more efficient they become the more determined they are to keep Negras under their heels. It is intelligent white labor that today keeps Negroes out of the trades refuses them decent homes to live in and helps nullify their vote. He concluded caustically whatever ideals white labor today strives for In America it
would surrender nearly everyone before it would recognize the negro as a man declared to boys in a crisis editorial 1031. Throughout the history of the Negron America white labor has been the black man's enemy his oppressor his murderer. Obs riots and the discrimination of trade unions have been used to kill harass and star black man white laborers have formed the backbone of the Ku Klux Klan and have furnished hands and ropes to lynch three thousand five hundred and sixty negro since 1882 and quote. Skepticism of the white laborer was a recurring theme in his major historical work black reconstruction written in 1904. Black and White unity and reconstruction was seen as a noble attempt but one which failed not only due to capitalist manipulation and racist demagogy but also because of the decisions of white labor. De Boer's recounts how the labor movement prior to the Civil War was involved in racist struggles to gain monetary rewards by excluding Nigro competition both slave competition and
free edition. It is significant that while a writer such as Philip phoner have emphasized the class consciousness of the German immigrant workers the boys in black reconstruction describes these German emigrants as an isolated minority of antebellum labor not reflective of American Labor tradition. The Northern labor movement after the war as described in black reconstruction on the whole fails of a concerted effort to oppose racism of the South and the Southern whites when pressed to the extreme of the late 1870s as described in black reconstruction chooses to sell out the neg row in the hope of gaining some small status in a capitalist new south of by and for white people. According to the boys the white laborer in reconstruction shows short run gains at the expense of the difficult struggle for long term benefits through unity with blacks. A similar view of reconstruction. Was carried into boys more recent work ordeal
of Mount Stark. As for liberalism in the end of the ICP quote by 1930 I had become convinced that the basic policies and ideals of the association must be modified and changed. The boys explained that in a world where economic dislocation had become so great as in ours a mere appeal on the basis of old liberalism a mere appeal to justice and further effort at legal decision was missing the essential need. I did not believe that a further prolongation of looking for salvation from whites was feasible. The end of the reliance on white philanthropy according to the boys was in effect a surrender of necessary independence of action in the crisis in speeches and in private conferences with and of the officials Dubois pressed for a shift from the legal approach to one of economic action. The action the boys had in mind would seek to provide economic self defense
and the actions described by the boys in the 1030 These were generally identical to programs promoted by Stokely Carmichael and other black power theorists today. The boys would use the power of the already segregated negro society to build for the elimination of that segregation. He called for consumer producer cooperatives the creation of Negro trade unions to watchdog white trade unions the bringing of cooperative methods into existing Nigro businesses. The use of boycotts and picket lines to force job openings for Dick rose. The pooling of available black capital for political and economic use increased consciousness of the need for race unity which would build black power and broadening of economic and social ties with Africa. The crisis was especially open to reports of Afro-American cooperatives and cases of race unity leaders at the end of the ICP criticized the boys for what they considered a negative attitude and an adoption of a defeatist Booker T Washington
philosophy. They accused boys of being a segregationist. Consequently the editor of the crisis resigned his post in the summer of 1990 for. The divorce programs were proposed not only out of a negative desperation but also of a positive belief that the negro should concentrate on saving himself because he was more worth saving than the white. They wanted his last issues as editor of the crisis Dubois wrote in the hearts of black laborers alone there for those ideals of democracy and in politics and industry in which may in time make the workers of the world effective dictators of civilization. The idea of. Cooperatives had been with the boys for many years. He had initiated a short lived cooperative league in 1900 for the 1930s he sought to tie black consumer cooperatives with the white national cooperatives Association. And he
saw a possibility of Negro wholesale cooperatives in tobacco and cotton and going beyond the usual idea of cooperatives. Dubois called for a program to quote socialize race professional activities quote hospitals can be as common as churches and used to far better advantage and the legal profession could be socialized quote Instead of being as it is now a defense of property and of antisocial aggregation of wealth become defense of the young poor ignorant and careless. Banking could be arranged in cooperative style. This would quote eliminate the millionaire and even the rich negro. It would put the negro lawyer on a salary which would be modest as American salaries go. And yet sufficient for a life under modern standards of decency and enjoyment. And it would eliminate also the popper in the industrial derelict and quote. In his autobiography A dusk of dawn written in 1041 Dubois carried the cooperative theme to a unity with Africa identifying Afro-American culture with aspects of African society he
noted quote in the African communal group ties of family and blood of mother and child of group relationship made the group leadership strong. In the case of Negro Americans there are sources of strength and common memories Harz and experiences here in subtle but real ways the communalism of the African clan can be transferred to the American Negro group. At the 1932 end of the ICP convention the boys urged closer ties with Africa. He told the convention we must rearrange our programme we have got to realize that the solution of the race problem in America is going to lie outside of America that the present problems of race in America Africa and other Americas are of primary and pressing interest to the Negra race in the United States. Now how similar this is to blacks today. Fervent opposition to the American Communist Party was the cause of. Some of the boy's nationalism in the 1930s. Criticism of the
party began in earnest with the communist and double ACP battle over who would carry the defense of the Scottsboro boys the. Nine young Alabamans accused of. Raping two white prostitutes. Do boys favor the end of the ICP as defense over the party and the party labeled him as one of the arch race misleaders and he in turn pegged the leaders of American communism quote a man of pitiable mental equipment. The feud with the communists seems to have been to have influenced his transnationalism because it was in arguing with the party that he made some of his most caustic condemnations of white working class racism. He conceded that dictatorship of the proletariat was well and good and probably inevitable but as for a dictatorship of the white American proletariat he wanted no part of it. His opposition to the left in the thirties did not mean he had ceased to believe in socialism rather he was opposing what he considered to be a mistaken
emphasis and the then powerful communist movement during the McCarthy era when leftists were under attack to boys would come to their defense. When De Boer's retired to Atlanta University in 1034 many thought the 66 year old veteran was retiring from politics for good. But during World War Two he returned to the end of the ICP in the position of director of special research a post which he described as quote specifically for the purpose of concentrating on study of colonial peoples and peoples of Negro descent throughout the world and to revive the Pan-African Congresses. In one thousand forty eight after personality clash with Walter White he left the end of once more this time to become director of the communist led Council on African affairs. The council was then under attack from governmental red hunting investigators and. The Des Boys acceptance of leadership of the first of a series of moves by him designed to lend his respected position to left causes them under attack.
He became an official in the distribution of the Stockholm peace petition and suffered the indignity of arrest and trial under the Smith Act for his activities in behalf of world peace. While waiting for trial in 1950 he came to the aid of the Progressive Party by running for U.S. senator in New York. The elections were a devil for the declining left and the boys shared the poor showing at the polls. His trial ended in victory over the government. With its and. With the end of the trial so ended the political activity of two boys in America. He had isolated himself by that time from Negril leadership group and the white left had been defeated. When Martin Luther King began the civil rights revolution and Montgomery Dubois commented coolly that King had a noble vision but his chance of success was slim. Some 10 years before that boy's head appeared more hopeful. Back in 1946 then he addressed a
assembly of South Carolina Nigro youth and prophesies that in the years ahead there was coming to Dixie a chance for young people to lift again the banner of humanity quote and build in the world a culture led by black folk and joined in by peoples of all colors and all races. The South was to be the firing line not simply called for the emancipation of the American Negro but for the emancipation of the colored races and for the emancipation of the white slaves of modern capitalist monopoly. In his final years De Boer's became a both a citizen of Guyana and moved to Africa and also became a member of the American Communist Party both the joining of the Communist International. After he was 90 years old and the taking of African citizenship were suggestive of a future struggle where the rights of man would be led by a worldwide socialism based
and projected from within the Third World. At the time hopefully gonna wear Dubois died just before the March on Washington in 1963. And a final word is in order here on the Do Boys Clubs of America today. Really they ought to change their name. It is an insult to Nigro Americans to have a merely a Marxist organization steal the name of a vibrant Third World spokesman who was incidentally a red in his later life but who was for 93 years a black.
W.E.B. DuBois (Episode 10 of 14)
Black power origins
Producing Organization
KPFA (Radio station : Berkeley, Calif.)
Contributing Organization
Pacifica Radio Archives (North Hollywood, California)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/28-th8bg2hv21).
Episode Description
Ted Vincent discusses the life and work of W.E.B. DuBois, author, scholar, and founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Pan African Congress, and the Niagara movement.
Broadcast Date
Created Date
Talk Show
Social Issues
Race and Ethnicity
Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; African Americans--Civil rights--History
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Producing Organization: KPFA (Radio station : Berkeley, Calif.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Pacifica Radio Archives
Identifier: 15715_D01 (Pacifica Radio Archives)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Pacifica Radio Archives
Identifier: PRA_AAPP_BB2246_10_WEB_DuBois (Filename)
Format: audio/vnd.wave
Generation: Master
Duration: 0:27:47
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “W.E.B. DuBois (Episode 10 of 14); Black power origins,” 1967-10-17, Pacifica Radio Archives, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 13, 2024,
MLA: “W.E.B. DuBois (Episode 10 of 14); Black power origins.” 1967-10-17. Pacifica Radio Archives, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 13, 2024. <>.
APA: W.E.B. DuBois (Episode 10 of 14); Black power origins. Boston, MA: Pacifica Radio Archives, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from