I have joined a distinguish panel of scholars for the 2018 American Studies Association (ASA) Annual Conference, held in the great city of Atlanta. Our panel, Du Bois Lately: Emergent Critiques of W. E. B. Du Bois at 150, brings together a collection of thinkers who spend a great deal of time pondering Black thought from a global and domestic framework.
Some of my most recent scholarship has explored the nomenclature of Black identity, Black radicalism, and ideology. In particularly, the relationship between Blacks and the Communist Party USA. I published an essay here that explored W.E.B. Du Bois and MLK Jr., and their relationship to race, religion, and communism.
My ASA conference paper, W.E.B. Du Bois’s Evolution into the Communist Party USA, delves into the dawn of the 21st century, in the year many celebrate the 150 anniversary of the birth of W.E.B. Du Bois, much is still to be learned about him as a communist. Carnegie Hall, February 23 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a commemorative speech on the 100th anniversary of the birth of W.E.B. Du Bois. In his speech, King stated, “it is time to cease muting the fact that Dr. Du Bois was a genius and chose to be a Communist”.
This paper provides insightful analysis into Du Bois’s imagination of world revolution. Both his Black Reconstruction and Dark Princess paint the greatness of the Russian Revolution, and the Soviet Union during the Comintern. Du Bois’s imagination after the Revolution shaped a vision for a better world for Black liberation, as Du Bois juxtaposed the Russian workers’ plight to that of oppressed Black Americans and those of the colonized world. However, his contradictions and concerns about communism and that of Josef Stalin denote his sense of self-ideological struggles. Though Du Bois offered a sharp critique of the Committee for International Labor Defense and the Communist Party USA during the Scottsboro trial in the 1930s and during their organizing strategies in the Deep South, his views and trajectory evolved, as his grasp of communism, both domestically and internationally, shaped his evolution toward his eventual membership in the Communist Party-USA.
A twilight Du Bois was energized by the larger stage of the color line and the problems presented by imperialism, and later at the dawn of the Cold War. Du Bois’s Black Reconstruction in America brought forth the forces that promulgated world revolution. However, he was guilty of miscalculations in making false parallels about the American race problem.