Commemorating the 142nd Birthday of American civil rights activist pioneer William Edward Burghardt Du Bois

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LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION commemorating the 142nd Birthday of American
civil rights activist pioneer William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, and
paying tribute to his life and accomplishments

WHEREAS, From time to time we take note of certain individuals whom we
wish to recognize for their valued contributions and to publicly
acknowledge their endeavors which have enhanced the basic humanity among
us all; and
WHEREAS, Attendant to such concern, and in full accord with its long-
standing traditions, it is the intent of this Legislative Body to
commemorate the 142nd Birthday of American civil rights activist pioneer
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, and paying tribute to his life and
accomplishments; and
WHEREAS, William Edward Burghardt (W.E.B.) Du Bois was born on Febru-
ary 23, 1868, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, to Alfred Du Bois and
Mary Silvina Burghardt Du Bois; and
WHEREAS, After the desertion of his father, W.E.B. Du Bois faced some
challenges growing up, as the precocious, intellectual, mixed-race son
of an impoverished single mother; nevertheless, he was very comfortable
academically, as many of his teachers recognized his academic gifts and
encouraged him to further his education with classical courses while in
high school; at that time, his scholastic success also led him to
believe that he could use his knowledge to empower African-Americans;
WHEREAS, In 1888, W.E.B. Du Bois earned a degree from Fisk University,
a historically black college in Nashville, Tennessee; he entered Harvard
College in the fall of 1888, having received a scholarship and later
earned his Bachelor's degree cum laude in 1890; and
WHEREAS, In 1892, W.E.B. Du Bois received a fellowship from the John
F. Slater Fund for the Education of Freedmen to attend the University of
Berlin, Germany, for graduate work; while a student in Berlin, he trav-
eled extensively throughout Europe and came of age intellectually in the
German capital, while studying with some of that nation's most prominent
social scientists, including Gustav von Schmoller, Adolph Wagner, and
Heinrich von Treitschke; and
WHEREAS, In 1895, W.E.B. Du Bois became the first African-American to
earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University; after teaching at Wilberforce
University in Ohio, he worked at the University of Pennsylvania and
taught while undertaking field research for his study "The Philadelphia
Negro"; he later moved to Georgia, where he established the Department
of Social Work at Atlanta University and also taught at The New School
in Greenwich Village, New York City; and
WHEREAS, A contemporary of Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois
carried on a dialogue with the educator about segregation, political
disfranchisement, and ways to improve African-American life; and
WHEREAS, Labeled "The Father of Pan-Africanism," W.E.B. Du Bois, with
a group of like-minded supporters founded the National Association for
the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909; in 1910, he left
Atlanta University to work full-time as Publications Director for the
NAACP; he also wrote columns published weekly in many newspapers,
including the Hearst-owned SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE as well as the AFRI-
WHEREAS, For 25 years, W.E.B. Du Bois worked as editor-in-chief of the
NAACP publication, THE CRISIS, then subtitled A RECORD OF THE DARKER
RACES; he commented freely and widely on current events and set the

agenda for the fledgling NAACP; the journal's circulation soared from
1,000 in 1910 to more than 100,000 by 1920; and
WHEREAS, W.E.B. Du Bois inspiration was for 70 years at the intellec-
tual epicenter of the struggle to destroy white supremacy as public
policy and social fact in the United States; and
WHEREAS, In 1950, at the age of 82, W.E.B. Du Bois ran for U.S.
Senator from New York on the American Labor Party ticket and polled a
little over 200,000 votes, about 4% of the total; although he lost, he
remained committed to the progressive labor cause; in 1958, he would
join with Trotskyites, ex-Communists and independent radicals in propos-
ing the creation of a united left-wing coalition to challenge for seats
in elections for the New York State Senate and Assembly; and
WHEREAS, In 1961, W.E.B. Du Bois was invited to Ghana by President
Kwame Nkrumah to direct the "Encyclopedia Africana," a government
production, and a long-held dream of his; in 1963, when W.E.B. Du Bois
was refused a new U.S. passport, he and his wife, Shirley Graham Du
Bois, became citizens of Ghana; contrary to some opinions, he never
renounced his U.S. citizenship, even when denied a passport to travel to
Ghana; and
WHEREAS, W.E.B. Du Bois wrote and published more than 4,000 articles,
essays, and books i.e. The Philadelphia Negro (1896), The Suppression of
the African Slave Trade (Harvard Ph.D. thesis, 1896), Atlanta Universi-
ty's Studies of the Negro Problem (1897-1910), Souls of Black Folks
(1903), John Brown (1909), Quest of the Silver Fleece (1911), The Negro
(1915), Darkwater (1920), The Gift of Black Folk (1924), Dark Princess
(1924), Black Reconstruction (1935), Black Folk, Then and Now (1939),
Dusk of Dawn (1940), Color and Democracy (1945), The Encyclopedia of the
Negro (1931-1946), and The World and Africa (1946), over the course of
his life; on August 27, 1963, he died in Accra, Ghana, at the age of 95,
one day before Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legendary "I Have a Dream"
speech; and
WHEREAS, Upon the occasion of the observance of the 142nd Birthday of
W.E.B. Du Bois, this Legislative Body wishes to commemorate the lifelong
struggle of the man who was the most prominent intellectual leader and
political activist on behalf of African-Americans in the first half of
the twentieth century; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That this Legislative Body pause in its deliberations to
commemorate the 142nd Birthday of American civil rights activist pioneer
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, and pay tribute to his life and accom-


  • 23 / Feb / 2010

Resolution Details

Law Section:
Resolutions, Legislative


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