W. E. B. Du Bois, 1919-1963
The Fight for Equality and the American Century
By David Levering Lewis
(Henry Holt and Co., Hardcover, 9780805025347, 608pp.)
Publication Date: October 1, 2000
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Charismatic, singularly determined, and controversial, W.E.B. Du Bois was a historian, novelist, editor, sociologist, founder of the NAACP, advocate of women's rights, and the premier architect of the Civil Rights movement. His hypnotic voice thunders out of David Levering Lewis's monumental biography like a locomotive under full steam.
This second volume of what is already a classic work begins with the triumphal return from WWI of African American veterans to the shattering reality of racism and lynching even as America discovers the New Negro of literature and art. In stunning detail, Lewis chronicles the little-known political agenda behind the Harlem Renaissance and Du Bois's relentless fight for equality and justice, including his steadfast refusal to allow whites to interpret the aspirations of black America. Seared by the rejection of terrified liberals and the black bourgeoisie during the Communist witch-hunts, Du Bois ended his days in uncompromising exile in newly independent Ghana. In re-creating the turbulent times in which he lived and fought, Lewis restores the inspiring and famed Du Bois to his central place in American history.
David Levering Lewis is the Martin Luther King Professor of History at Rutgers University and was recently awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. W.E.B. Du Bois: Biography of Race, 1868-1919 received the Bancroft, Parkman, and Pulitzer prizes, and was a finalist for the National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award.