The man died in self-imposed exile on the West Coast of Africa-at the age of 95-and the news of his passing was spread from coast to coast in the land of his birth by a curious coincidence. Tens of thousands of Negro Americans were converging upon the nation's capital as he lay dying. They were participating in a "March on Washington For Jobs and Freedom"--at least one out of every fifty adult Negroes in the United States was involved. The next day when they were assembled before Lincoln's monument, the Executive Secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People announced to the vast throng that the news had just come that one of the founders of the N.A.A.C.P. had died on the eve of the March, Dr. William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, in Accra, Ghana. Many were surprised that his name was mentioned at all, for "the old man" had been something of an embarassment to Negro and white liberals because he had joined the American Communist Party in 1961 and had renounced his citizenship to become a Ghanaian in 1962. The fact that he was mentioned at all on the occasion of the March was not only a tribute to the courage of the man who felt that it was proper and fitting to do so, but it also gives vivid corroboration to the hypothesis that Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois, whatever he might do, had had such an impact upon American history that he could not be ignored-that his name is secure in the list of 19th and 20th Century American "immortals." Indeed, during this very week, a memorial service is being held for him at Carnegie Hall in New York and the list of sponsors reads like a roster of the country's most distinguished social scientists and literary figures.
Drake, St. Clair
"Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois: A Life Lived Experimentally and Self-Documented,"
Contributions in Black Studies:
Vol. 8, Article 10.
Available at: http://scholarworks.umass.edu/cibs/vol8/iss1/10