[W.E.B. DuBois Autobiography, part 1]

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DuBois, W.E.B., Oral Autobiography (1 of 2)


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Martin Luther King Fellows In Black Religious Studies, Inc. Collection

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circa 1972

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A man in caracter as W.E.B. DuBois gives his life story. In this autobiography, the man discusses DuBois and his time at Fisk, Harvard, and Atlanta University. He shares how Atlanta University was the first institution White or Black to have a course on Negro History. He also discusses his Philadelphia study known as the “The Philadelphia Negro” and his work with John Hope of the Atlanta University Center and the NAACP.

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00:00:07 Audio begins with a man in character as W.E.B DuBois talking about his journey from Massachusetts to Fisk University at the age of 17 and from there to Harvard and Berlin.

00:08:43 Talks about how he gave up philosophy and went into history under Albert Bushnell Hart with assignments in Negro history and receiving his Bachelor degree with distinction in 1890.

00:13:48 Talks about going to Germany and having a tremendous new experience because it was the first time in his life that he was treated like a regular human being.

00:15:32 Talks about in Berlin and how he had the chance to get into a seminar on economics under two of the most prominent professors. He studied there for three semester.

00:16:55 Talks about coming back to U.S. from Berlin in 1892, questioning where was he going to work because there was very little if any chance of getting into a white school.

00:17:45 Talks about receiving an offer from Wilberforce and gives a brief history of the school, and not long after receiving an offer from Booker T. Washington at Tuskegee and then another offer from Missouri but went to Wilberforce.

00:18:59 Talks about how he went to Wilberforce and stayed for two years and talks about how difficult it was and how the facilities were of low grade.

00:19:35 Talks about how he has never been a person with a great sense of religion, and how Bishops of African Methodist Episcopal church didn’t like him because he wasn’t orthodox enough.

00:20:40 Talks about how he got his chance when he was asked to come to the University of Pennsylvania to make a study of the Negro population of the 7th ward of Philadelphia (The Philadelphia Negro, book).

00:23:12 Talks about how Atlanta University asked him to come down to teach in 1897, he went and stayed for 13 years. While there made a systematic study of the American Negro but wasn’t well done because of money. For the next 25 years there wasn’t a book published on the Negro problem that didn’t have to depend on what was happening at Atlanta University.

00:24:15 Talks about while he was at Atlanta University, his faith in knowledge as the answer to the Negro problem being shaken by lynching. Talks about people did not only have to know but act.

00:27:13 Talks about how he was forced to change because of pressures of Atlanta University to do without his services because of his criticism of Booker T. Washington. Also talks about how he resigned because of pressure.

00:28:23 Talks about how he accepted an invitation to go to New York in 1910 and help the NAACP and how he was one of the incorporators of the organization.

00:29:00 Talks about starting the Crisis Magazine that would discuss the Negro problem and being the editor for 23 years.

00:31:56 Talks about meeting all sorts of problems including World War I, with colored soldiers but the lack of colored officers.

00:33:54 Talks about trying to start a Pan African Congress in Paris and how there had been one in 1900 in which he wrote the resolution.

00:39:32 Talks about how in 1926 he made his first trip to Russia visiting several cities.

00:42:12 Talks about an offer from John Hope who had been made president of a new University which was given money by the general education fund In 1933 he resigned from the NAACP and returned to Atlanta where he stayed for 10 years. Also talks about how John Hope worked himself to death a year after he returned.

00:44:53 Talks about getting started quarterly magazine called Phylon (Greek word for Race) and also talks about Negro land grant colleges.

00:57:14 Talks about proposed dinner on his 83rd birthday and the forming of a peace information bureau and how he was indicted and threatened with 5 years in prison - the trial cost him $30,000.

01:10:45 Audio ends.


The Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library acknowledges the generous support of the National Endowment for Humanities - Humanities Collections and Reference Resources Implementation Project Grant in supporting the processing and digitization of a number of its major archival collections as part of the project: Spreading the Word: Expanding Access to African American Religious Archival Collections at the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library.


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