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During this discussion I will be discussing W.E.B. Du Bois and Little Rock Nine and how each topic he shaped African American History.
W.E.B. Du Bois
William Burghardt Du Bois; better known as W.E.B. Du Bois, was born on September 23, 1868 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts in a community which was predominately white. There were about 5,000 whites to 50 blacks. Born to Mary and Alfred Du Bois, he was raised to believe that hard work was the key to success. In 1884, he graduated from high school at the top of his class, made up of thirteen people with him being the only African American. Even though Du Bois could not attend Harvard as he always dreamed was excited to be accepted into Fisk University. It was an all-black university located in Nashville, Tennessee. His response to being accepted into Fisk was, “I was going into the South; the South of slavery, rebellion, and black folk; above all, I was going to meet colored people of my own age and education, of my own ambitions.” (Himan, 2005) Attending Fisk was a risk for Du Bois. He was not exposed to this sort of treatment and was shocked at how unrestricted whites were on how they treated African Americans. The more he discovered about the injustices African Americans suffered, the prouder he became of his own heritage. He graduated from Fisk with honors and received a scholarship to attend Harvard. During his years at Harvard he developed the theory racism was caused by ignorance. In 1895, he was the first African American to earn the title Ph.D., the highest degree during his time. He later accepted a teaching job at Atlanta University where he was asked to conduct research about African Americans. His studies while there revealed that Black Americans were shaped by their environments and if given the equal opportunities could achieve as much as White Americans. In 1903, he wrote a book of essays called The Souls of Black Folk which contained an essay that criticized Booker T. Washington’s views on Black Americans. He believed equality would come naturally if African Americans proved themselves to be intelligent and hardworking. Du Bois argued that African Americans demand equal treatment and encouraged people to protest and take action. He was now the voice of protest against segregation. In 1905, he formed the Niagara Movement which attacked all Washington’s ideas and in turn was fired from the University. Five years later the NAACP was formed and this new organization would play a powerful role in the battle for African American civil rights throughout the 20th century. He was forced out of NAACP in 1948 for his views on Communism. In conclusion, his fiery independent personality and his strong views on equality of Black Americans made him a recognized civil rights activist during the 19th century and his accomplishments will always be remembered in African American history. When Du Bois passed in 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. quoted, “His singular greatness lay in his quest for truth about his own people.”(Troy 1999).

Himan, Bonnie. (2005). A Stranger in my house: the story of W.E.B. Du Bois. Morgan Reynold Publishing, Inc.

Troy, Don. (1999). Journey to Freedom: The African American Library W.E.B Du Bois 1868- 1963.

The Little Rock Nine
In 1954, a United States Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka ordered an end to segregation. It said that black children must be able to study with white children at previously all-white public schools. Before transferring to Central, the Nine attended segregated schools for black students in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Carlotta Walls, Jefferson Thomas, and Gloria Ray attended Paul Laurence Dunbar Junior High School, while Ernest Green, Elizabeth Eckford, Thelma Mothershed, Terrence Roberts, Minnijean Brown, and Melba Pattillo attended Horace Mann High School. They never would have imagined that on September 23, 1957 would change their lives forever and note a very significant part of African American history. The nine African-American teens were chosen by the local school board to test the decision at Central High. On September 4, 1957, Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus was determined to stop the teens from entering the school by ordering the Arkansas National Guard to stand guard outside of the school. Upon arrival at the school they were stopped immediately and motioned to leave the premises. The drama played out for three weeks, ending only after President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent in federal troops to ensure the students made it safely inside the school. The events, which were broadcast on national television, helped light a fire under the civil rights movement three years after the Supreme Court had declared segregation in public schools unconstitutional. Minnijean Brown, 16, was the only student suspended after dumping a bowl of chili on a white boy's head in response to taunts in the school cafeteria and was later expelled for standing up to a white girl. But the rest of the Little Rock Nine finished the school year, and in May 1958, Green became Central High's first black graduate. Daisy Bates played a major role with the teens. She was a civil rights activist and a mentor for the teens during this horrific period. She helped them to keep their faith and told them what they were doing would make a difference for blacks.


McCabe, Suzanne. (2007 September). The Little Rock Nine. Junior Scholastics. 110(1), 18-23. Retrieved from

Roberts, S., & Marjerol,V., (2010 September). The Little Rock Nine. New York Times Upfront. 145(1), 24-27. Retrieved from

The Little Rock Nine. InThe Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture. Retrieved from on August 21, 2013

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