Review: The Souls of Black Folk, By W.E.B. Du Bois

I listened to a book by a pioneering scholar whom I have admired since elementary school: web_dubois_1918
This book is one that should be on every shelf in America, and I mean that in the widest sense, as in North America and South America. Since it’s in the public domain, it is available freely as an audiobook, beautifully read on, and presumably also on both the project Gutenberg and the internet archives sites. Du Bois mentions, in fact, very nearly the same subjects spoken of by Dr. Anna J. Cooper in her work a decade earlier in A Voice From the South, By a Woman of the South, VoiceSth except that he rarely mentions women except for Phyllis Wheatley and one or two other women. He does however, not explicitly, but still, mention the Episcopalian clergy problem, bringing up the same issue that Dr. Cooper mentioned in her work about black people being trusted to lead and educate the black community. And also the problem of the history of slavery having very real lasting impacts into the present day at that time, and unfortunately still today. What he says is the same thing that she said earlier which is that both context and history matter.
1.0%” has a well liked reader for this classic. Excellent”
August 19, 2022 –

2.0%”Beautiful poem to start with by Ms. Simmons.”

August 19, 2022 –

3.0% “Had never thought of the Freedmen’s bureau as a government.

Going to SC, taking back the little land already issued to freed slaves.


The Bureau and Gen. Howard had an impossible job, given the circumstances.”

August 19, 2022 –

4.0%”Mamon, unfortunately, appears to have won…”

August 19, 2022 –

6.0%”Had this call for education across the South, for all citizens, been heeded at the time, current events could have been avoided.”

August 19, 2022 –

7.0%”Exactly. Better living conditions give better work results.”

August 19, 2022 –

8.0%”Interesting, the irony of the fact that Booker T. Washington’s policies would in fact undermine the very existence of his own school, given that his de-emphasizing higher education would mean they wouldn’t be any teachers for Tuskegee.”

August 20, 2022 –

9.0%”Cunningly devised laws … to be preyed upon… handicapped… dangerous for the future… Here is the imperative for trained Negro leaders. … Educate them. Then by the ballot…”

August 20, 2022 –

11.0%”Beautiful homage to the risk of death in childbirth.”

August 20, 2022 –

13.0%”Same call as that of Dr. Anna J. Cooper for the Episcopalian clergy.”

August 20, 2022 –

14.0% “I will go to the king
… If I die, I die.”

Beautiful use of Esther’s words…”

   and yes:

“Exactly: the Toutons 1000 years ago were woefully barbaric, while knowledge came from beyond Europe.”

Hang on:  How did he manage not to mention Dr. Anna J. Cooper in this book?!

Doctor Anna J. Cooper anna_j._cooper_1892  essentially builds the same  case that he does, and I love that question that she poses “who will care for our souls”.  I still wonder if that’s where W. E. B. Du Bois took the title for this book ‘The Souls of Black Folk’ from, as I’ve read somewhere that it was a response to this book by Dr. Cooper.

The United States can totally Do Better, can’t we?



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Shira Destinie Jones’ work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


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