chapter  16
W. E. B. Du Bois
Pages 8

W. E. B. Du Bois was a Renaissance man in a modern epoch. Teacher, scholar, activist, novelist, poet, sociologist, and historian, he managed in his ninety-five-year lifespan to author seventeen books, to found and edit four different journals, and to pursue two full-time careers-scholar and political organizer. But more than that, he reshaped how the very experience of America and African America could be thought; he made us know both the complexity of who we have been and are, and why it matters; he left us-black and white-a legacy of intellectual tools, a language with which we might analyze our present and imagine a future. And, yet, writing his last autobiographical statement in his waning years, he was to lament that his very existence might well be effaced for a whole generation: "The colored children," he wrote, "ceased to hear my name."