chapter
19 Pages

Introduction

W. E. B. Du Bois stands as the pre–eminent Africanist and Pan-Africanist of the twentieth century. His remarkable insight and foresight regarding Africa and African-American issues are unparalleled in articulation and direction. He was an intellectual and activist who not only wrote about Africa and people of African descent, but also participated in or helped organize the major Pan-African Congresses of the first half of the twentieth century. Du Bois’s interests were varied and far-reaching. His mission was to lead the fight to free Black people from oppression (including colonial oppression) and racism. He wrote on a variety of topics, especially on African Americans in the United States. He also paid a great deal of attention to the idea of the African diaspora. African history and culture constitute a major theme in his work. He wrote about Black people and African history and culture as integral to world history—as harbingers of human civilization, as enslaved peoples, as the embodiment of song, dance, human happiness, and human decency, as also hewers of wood and drawers of water that made the European and American capitalist systems work.