chapter  5
30 Pages

The Margin as the Center of a Theory of History African-American Women, Social Change, and the Sociology of W. E. B. Du Bois

During the first decades of this century, in a word of prayer before his students at Atlanta University, W. E. B. Du Bois petitioned:

In prayer, Du Bois identified multiple dimensions of oppression that demanded resistance and challenge and pointed to the simultaneous impor­ tance of gender, race, and class. At the heart of a prayer full of sociological

truth was a call to explore and interpret African American women’s experi­ ence in American society.3 W. E. B. Du Bois included women’s lives in his perspective on social change. For Du Bois the sociologist and activist, there were “three great revolutions” at work in “the making” of the United States. These revolutions involved women, labor, and black folk. In various writings, he observed that black women embodied all three of these revolutions in their historical roles in the family, the community, and the labor force.