Don't Let Them Fool You, We Are Elite, Too

W.E.B. Du Bois was a scholar, author, influential activist, and co-founder of the NAACP. Du Bois grew up in an area of Massachusetts that was not segregated. He attended school with whites and was equally accepted by the students and teachers alike. Du Bois was always a talented student with a strong desire to learn. His academic focus was in sociology, which led him to complete his undergrad at Fisk University and later, in 1895, becoming the first African American to obtain a Ph.D. from Harvard University.

It wouldn’t be long before Du Bois began to apply his extensive knowledge of sociology to complement his new post as a leading activist for Black rights. Du Bois had a unique experience far different than the Black people he would encounter, when he first moved to Nashville, Tennessee to attend Fisk University in 1885. This was the first time he’d seen real segregation; he was now living in the Jim Crow South. His flame to fight for equality for his people had been lit.

Du Bois was a lifelong educator teaching as a professor at Atlanta University and also published several books and prominent essays. In 1909, he would publish one of his most notable works, The Souls of Black Folk. A few years later, he would go on to co-found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

He stood for the general advancement of Blacks but specifically pushed for Blacks to have opportunities in positions of power. He didn’t agree that it was enough to simply fight for us to have access to menial and/or hard labor jobs. 

To that point, he openly opposed revered educator and activist, Booker T. Washington’s Atlanta Compromise, an agreement that asserted that vocational education for blacks was more valuable to them than social advantages like higher education or political office. 

He sought more for Black people and knew that we were meant for greatness. He understood that we must hold ourselves to a higher standard and not let the white elite dictate our value or ceiling our potential.

It was his goal to enlighten us and imbed a new belief system that we have elite people amongst us; and that we are to be our own heroes responsible for our equal rights and ascension.

“The Talented Tenth of the Negro race must be made leaders of thought and missionaries of culture among their people.” --W.E.B. Du Bois

As the strong Black race that we are we must lift up, support, and rally behind the leaders of our communities. That goes from the bus drivers to the Sunday school teachers, to the youth coaches, on up to our businessmen and women. We’ve got to stand behind our leaders because they are the ones that will lead us to new and better economic and social opportunities. 

~Ambitious & Black

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