Du Bois Lecture

I am pumped to be delivering the Annual W. E. B. Du Bois Lecture at Community Church of Boston on February 26 2017. Yep — the year is incorrect below. My lecture, “W.E.B. Du Bois: A Radical Savior of His People” brings Du Bois’s political and faith-based critique of suffering and the human condition to life, as it draws from his biblical interpretations and ideological framing of the color-line thesis. See more here

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African-American History Conference

I am working through my notes, reading my data and comparing conclusions by various historians. In the end, I am excited about the panel I am sitting on come March, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. You can see the conference program here.

Here is the panel, which will be chaired by Gerald Horne. This is a great historical society.

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African-American Plight

The Negro Speaks of Rivers

By Langston Hughes

I’ve known rivers:

I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.

I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.

I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.

I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

I’ve known rivers:

Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

Double-Consciousness

It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.

The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife — this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost. He does not wish to Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa. He wouldn’t bleach his Negro blood in a flood of white Americanism, for he knows that Negro blood has a message for the world. He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of opportunity closed roughly in his face.

From W.E.B. Du Bois’s Souls of Black Folk

The Production of Du Bois

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W.E.B. Du Bois, 90 years of age, speaking to black students at Fisk University, circa 1958. What I most admire about the greatest academic of the first half of the 20th century was his academic production and relentlessness in the field. He was a relentless scholar and activist until his death at 95.

From the Book Shelf

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Here is an image for you from one of my book cases: I see something close to Warner Sallman’s Jesus watching over the communist (workers of the world — Karl Marx mug), W.E.B. Du Bois (see mug), and those Muslims in the White House. That must be one of my favorite New Yorker covers, as it makes fun of the many silly closed-minded Americans. The Marx and Du Bois mugs were gifts from a former student.

The Problem of the 21st Century is the Color Line

At my age, I am not fully out of the woods yet; but as I noted to a colleague, I now face better odds than other young men of color. Back in 1903, W.E.B Du Bois wrote that “the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line”. For young black males today, the 21st century has not been too kind. As of late, it is a rare night when I can go to bed free of feeling stressed for black males these days. There have been nights in which I was so troubled and mad, that I could not sleep. I just do not know what to do. That is my fear. I write this with a heavy heart for young black men here at the dawn of the 21st century.