First published in 1903, this extraordinary work not only recorded and explained history—it helped alter its course. Written after Du Bois had earned his Ph.D. from Harvard and studied in Berlin, these fourteen essays contain both the academic language of sociology and the rich lyricism of African spirituals, which Du Bois called “sorrow songs.”
Often revealingly autobiographical, Du Bois explores topics as diverse as the death of his infant son and the politics of Booker T. Washington. In every essay, he shows the consequences of both a political color line and an internal one, as he grapples with the contradictions of being black and being American. What emerges is a manifesto calling for a new class of African-American intellectuals and a transcendent program for change. One of our country’s most influential books, The Souls of Black Folk reflects the mind of a visionary who inspired generations of readers to remember the past, question the status quo, and fight for a just tomorrow.