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W.E.B. Du Bois in Germantown

February 15, 2012

W.E.B Du Bois (courtesy of http://www.biography.com)

Since 1976, the federal government has officially dedicated the month of February to remembering the achievements and contributions of African Americans, a concept introduced by Carter Woodson in 1926 as Negro History Week. In 1928, Germantown held its own celebration of Negro Achievement Week.

The week-long program included presentations from speakers, artists, musicians, writers, and community leaders. Notable contributors included Alain Locke, James Weldon Johnson, and W.E.B. Du Bois. Amongst the published works of Du Bois is The Philadelphia Negro, an unprecedented study of African American urban life.

(click for enlarged image)

According to the archived program for the week, Du Bois spoke on “Contributions by the Negro to American Life.” This speech reflected the contemporary method of promoting the status of African Americans by highlighting their cultural and historical contributions.

Du Bois published many essays concerning the advancement of African Americans and was also the founding editor of the NAACP magazine, The Crisis. In his writings, Du Bois gave much attention to the right to vote, recognizing its power to bring about social reform and racial equality. In a 1905 essay entitled “The Black Vote of Philadelphia,” Du Bois analyzed the politics of Philadelphia, condemning corrupt government’s influence over the inexperienced and uneducated black voters.

Although he grew up with more opportunity than many of his fellow African Americans, Du Bois recognized the limitations imposed upon him and others of his race. Attending Fisk University in Nashville, he was exposed to the cruelty and corruption of Southern whites.  W.E.B. Du Bois, guided by his experience and education, was one of the most passionate and eloquent advocates for social justice in America.

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