W.E.B. Du Bois – Scholar and activist, born on February 23, 1868 in Massachusetts. He studied at Harvard University and in 1895 became the first African American to earn a doctorate from Harvard. He wrote extensively and was the best known spokesperson for the African American rights during the first half of the 20th century. He co founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Du Bois was a proponent of the Pan Africanism and helped organize several Pan African Congresses to free African colonies from European powers. He died at the age 95 in Accra, Ghana, while working on an encyclopedia of the African Diaspora.
- Du Bois’ family background was complex and no doubt helped shape his perspective on race. His father was born in Haiti and had some French background; his great grandmother Elizabeth Freeman was a slave who sued to earn her freedom, an action that contributed to the abolition of slavery in Massachusetts
- Du Bois was one of the founders of the Niagara Movement, a civil rights group that eventually developed into the NAACP.
- Du Bois investigated many possible solutions to the race problem in America, including socialism. He was given the Lenin Peace Prize (a Soviet analogue to the Nobel Prize) in 1959 and joined the Communist Party two years later.
- In the 1950s, Du Bois was charged with being a foreign agent for his antiwar activities.
- Du Bois became a citizen of the West African nation of Ghana in 1963, when he was 95 years old.