12 Pages

Editors’ Introduction

The raging ethnic conflicts and genocidal wars in the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the former Yugoslavia, as well as in South Africa, India, Sri Lanka, and Burundi, justify the reexamination by contemporary scholars of the prophetic voice of W. E. B. Du Bois. His prophecy that “the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line,—the rela­ tion of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea,” has in large part been fulfilled. Also, the correla­ tive problem of double-consciousness, the struggle of peoples to reconcile the tension between their national or political and ethnic or cultural identities, has become a major problem in the emerging new world order. Contemporary dialogue in the academy and media concerning the increasing educational, political, and philosophical influence throughout the American educational system of multiculturalism in general, and of Afrocentrism in particular, also often refers to the provocative ideas of W. E. B. Du Bois on race and culture. In this context, Emily Grosholz convened a conference at The Pennsylvania State University in 1992 on “The Thought of W. E. B. Du Bois.”