February 23

W.E.B. Du Bois

February 23, 1868 - Metro Atlanta

He was one of the most influential black leaders of the 20th century, and he taught in Atlanta for almost 25 years.

W.E.B. Du Bois was born in Massachusetts in 1868 and received a PhD. from Harvard in 1895—the same year Booker T. Washington made his famous “Atlanta Compromise” speech, calling for accommodation rather than protest against white society. Du Bois became Washington’s toughest critic, advocating activism and protest against injustice.

Du Bois began the first of two long teaching stints at Atlanta University in 1897, where he wrote some of his most influential work, including The Souls of Black Folk, and Black Reconstruction. The Sam Hose lynching in Newnan and the Atlanta Race Riots both motivated his role in founding the NAACP in 1909. Du Bois edited the organization’s magazine, The Crisis, for 24 years before returning to Atlanta University in the 1930s.

The years in Georgia profoundly influenced the pioneering black activist born on February 23, 1868, Today in Georgia History.