The Souls of Black Folk PDF Download Free

The Souls of Black Folk PDF

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One of the most widely read and influential works in African American literature, “The Souls of Black Folk” is W.E.B. Du Bois’s classic collection of essays in which he details the state of racism and black culture at the beginning of the 20th century. Often autobiographical, “The Souls of Black Folk” takes the reader on a history lesson of race relations and the state of the African American from the emancipation proclamation to the early part of the 20th century. A founding member of the NAACP, Du Bois, through his writings, laid the foundation for the debate that would become the civil rights movement.

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Illustrations of The Souls of Black Folk PDF

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The Writers

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (1868-1963) is the greatest of African American intellectuals–a sociologist, historian, novelist, and activist whose astounding career spanned the nation’s history from Reconstruction to the civil rights movement. Born in Massachusetts and educated at Fisk, Harvard, and the University of Berlin, Du Bois penned his epochal masterpiece, The Souls of Black Folk, in 1903. It remains his most studied and popular work; its insights into Negro life at the turn of the 20th century still ring true. With a dash of the Victorian and Enlightenment influences that peppered his impassioned yet formal prose, the book’s largely autobiographical chapters take the reader through the momentous and moody maze of Afro-American life after the Emancipation Proclamation: from poverty, the neoslavery of the sharecropper, illiteracy, miseducation, and lynching, to the heights of humanity reached by the spiritual “sorrow songs” that birthed gospel and the blues. The most memorable passages are contained in “On Booker T. Washington and Others,” where Du Bois criticizes his famous contemporary’s rejection of higher education and accommodationist stance toward white racism: “Mr. Washington’s programme practically accepts the alleged inferiority of the Negro races,” he writes, further complaining that Washington’s thinking “withdraws many of the high demands of Negroes as men and American citizens.” The capstone of The Souls of Black Folk, though, is Du Bois’ haunting, eloquent description of the concept of the black psyche’s “double consciousness,” which he described as “a peculiar sensation…. One ever feels this twoness–an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” Thanks to W.E.B. Du Bois’ commitment and foresight–and the intellectual excellence expressed in this timeless literary gem–black Americans can today look in the mirror and rejoice in their beautiful black, brown, and beige reflections.

Proportions of The Souls of Black Folk PDF

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 4, 2013)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 154 pages
  • International Standard Book Number-10 ‏ : ‎ 1492312134
  • International Standard Book Number-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1492312130
  • Lexile measure ‏ : ‎ 1280L
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 9.9 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 7 x 0.35 x 10 inches

Reviews From Customers

John P. Jones III
How does it feel to be a “problem”?
September 19, 2016

Regrettably, for me, this has been a long overlooked classic. I’ve read my share of the works of black American authors, such as James Baldwin, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison and most recently, Ta-Nehisi Coats. Not having read Du Bois seems to have been the functional equivalent of not having read Homer.

William Edward Burghardt “W.E.B.” Du Bois lived a full productive life which spanned the long era of “Jim Crow.” He was born in 1868, and died at the age of 95, one year before the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, in Accra, Ghana, as a citizen of that country. He was the first African-American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard. His writings reflect a thorough grounding in the Greek and Roman classics, with references that were – at times, frankly beyond me. His prose is temperate, the “outrage” is left to the reader to conclude when the circumstances are described in measured terms, which often fully acknowledges the faults and predicaments of his own race. As the introduction says: “Du Bois achieves in his text a rare combination of pathos and dignity, presenting a portrait of black culture that commands respect.” For many years he would teach at the Atlanta University complex, and writes fondly of the 100 hills of Atlanta, the trees, and the red clay soil of Georgia. His wry introspection is demonstrated in the opening paragraph, where he asks the subject question.

The vast majority of these 14 separate but intertwined essays concern racial relations in the United States after the Emancipation and the year of publication, 1903. One in particular was not, which was reflective of his own experience, when his first-born son died in infancy. In the third essay he presents his arguments with Booker T. Washington, concerning the education of the Negro in “trade schools,” stressing the need for the classical education which Du Bois had, saying that they had “put up high schools and called them colleges.” “Mr. Washington represents in Negro thought the old attitude of adjustment and submission.” Washington asked them to give up three things – “Political power, Insistence on Civil Rights, and Higher Education of Negro Youth.” Du Bois was the one who insisted that all three were “musts.” Separately, Du Bois says: “for the South believed that an educated Negro to be a dangerous Negro.” From my own experience, Du Bois is only looking at a sub-set, since I would add that, in general, anyone who is both educated – and questioning in a substantive way – of either race, South or North, is considered both “dangerous” and “a trouble maker.”

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, immediately established in the aftermath of the Civil War, and led by Major General Oliver O. Howard, from Maine, who Du Bois describes as: “an honest man, with too much faith in human nature, little aptitude for business and intricate detail” was another topic I was totally unfamiliar with. Du Bois describes the initiative of mainly white female teachers from New England as “the 9th Crusade” for their efforts in establishing schools in the South, for both blacks and whites, after the Civil War. When the Freedman Bureau died, Du Bois describes its child as the Fifteen Amendment to the Constitution.

In other essays, he describes his experience as a student at Fisk University in Nashville, and his subsequent experience teaching in very rudimentary log cabins for black students, and how he was housed in the homes of the student’s parents. In another temperate essay, he enrages the reader with the story of my “namesake,” John Jones, a black who had serious problems, both North and South. In NYC, he purchased an expensive ticket to see an opera, was seated, enjoying the performance when an usher, every so apologetically explained that the seat had been previously sold, and he would have to move (he was seated next to a white woman, and her husband had complained). Of course we will refund your money the usher explains. Jones decides to return to his native South, where the people seem more honest in their bigotry. There is a telling scene where Jones went to see “the Judge” who claimed he had “done so much for your people,” but Jones makes the mistake of going to the front door, and is rebuked for bringing those “uppity” Northern ideas back home.

By far the essay that was the most informative, and resonated the strongest was the one on Dougherty County, Georgia, at the west end of the “Black belt” in that state. In the 1880’s-90’s the population was approximately 10,000 blacks and 2,000 whites. Du Bois describes in detail the economics of growing cotton in that county, with its impact on the humans, and the mechanisms that were used to keep everyone in debt, and therefore under control (today, many a college graduate would understand well). Consider just one fact: Cotton was 14 cents a pound in 1860 and 4 cents a pound in 1898. In the early ‘70’s I would travel to Dougherty County on business on a monthly basis, and was utterly oblivious to these central historical facts. ‘Tis more than a bit embarrassing. And then there is the matter of those formative experiences with two of the progeny from Dougherty County, each living on a different side of what Du Bois would call “the Veil.” Further heightened embarrassment that I did not know. Better late than…

6-stars for Du Bois seminal perceptions.
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Robert Hayes
Where hope and sorrow meet
August 20, 2017

In these days of renewed uncertainty, when the social progress made seems precarious, it helps to see from where we’ve come. This book, a cornerstone of civil rights literature, deserves a fresh look. This was my first time reading it, to be sure, but I felt a deep and human connection with the world it describes. Not because Blacks face the same challenges as 100 years ago, but that the mentality of people on all sides seems to have changed very little; the problems have only evolved with time as social and legal progress has been made. Yes, I’m white, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the magnitude of struggle. Many passages in this book are painful to read. Du Bois’ writing at times approaches the level of poetry and abundantly conveys what he aspires to in his title. It’s really hard for me to pick a favorite passage, but the last chapter wouldn’t be a bad choice. I also liked the touch of beginning each chapter with a poem and snippet of melody. If you haven’t read it, you should; if you have, then read it again. The words and historical memory are needed more than ever.

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