I have read W.E.B. DuBois’ Souls of Black Folks some 10 – 12 times since my junior year of high school; it is a work that has taken on biblical proportions for me intellectually. One of the reasons I teach his modern intellectual thought in my class is due to his profound prophetic writings. A few years ago while attending the professors of color conference at the University of Nebraska, a speaker challenged the audience to reconsider their place as members of the talented tenth. He concluded that the notion of the talented tenth must take on a more public agenda and less of an elitist one — which DuBois himself was a part of. This, in many ways, might explain his absence from public life. On the other hand of this dichotomy, Booker T. Washington is known by most. Although many black academics have come to resent him for his teaching of producing a practical black man, his voice has always been more public than DuBois. Many of my colleagues and friends are discussing the blog post regarding black plight and DuBois (read about it here) as it pertains to the new public voice of the talented tenth. This piece was written around some of Orlando Patterson’s writing regarding the public voice. This might be DuBois’ most prophetic statement…

We have a way in America of wanting to be rid of problems. It is not so much a desire to reach the best and largest solution as it is to clean the board and start a new game. For instance, most Americans are simply tired and impatient over our most sinister social problem, the Negro. They do not want to solve it, they do not want to understand it, they want to simply be done with it and hear the last of it. Of all possible attitudes this is the most dangerous, because it fails to realize the most significant fact of the opening century, namely the Negro problem in America is but a local phase of a world problem. The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the Color Line.

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