Lifelines: The Black Book of Proverbs

Monday, February 22, 2010

Legacy of WEB DuBois

Who is brave enough to tell the lion that his breath smells? (Berber)

1868 - W.E.B. Dubois, scholar, activist and author of The Souls of Black Folk, was born.

I became familiar with W.E.B Dubois when I moved to Ghana many decades ago. I was a teacher in Accra, and he was Kwame Nkrumah’s honored guest. Here he is celebrating his 95th birthday with his wife Shirley, Nkrumah, and Nkrumah’s wife Fathia.

DuBois was an author, historian, sociologist, Pan-Africanist, and civil rights activist. He was born into a free Black landowning family. His father was from Haiti, and his parents split up when he was two years old. Dubois worked hard at school, as he saw education as taking him and his mother out of poverty. He earned a first degree from Fish University, and later became the first Black person awarded a PhD from Harvard University.

He wrote several books, the best known of which is “Souls of Black Folk.” He also encouraged writers of Black fiction, poetry, and drama. He was the most prominent activist on behalf of Black Americans during the first half of the twentieth century, and was called, “The Father of Pan Africanism.” He was one of the founders of the National Alliance for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He and Marcus Garvey strongly disagreed on whether Blacks could be integrated as equals into American society.

DuBois was a radical all his life. The FBI investigated him, claiming he was a socialist. He visited Communist China and was indicted (and later acquitted) for “communist sympathies". At the age of 82, DuBois ran for the position of US Senator from New York, and polled four per cent of the votes. When the US refused him a new passport in 1963, he became a citizen of Ghana, the country in which he spent his final days.

He died the day before Martin Luther King Jr’s March on Washington, and Kwame Nkrumah honored him with a state funeral.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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Can someone help me find it?

Overheard some co-workers talking about it all week but didn't have time to ask so I thought I would post it here to see if someone could help me out.

Seems to be getting alot of buzz right now.



When the occasion arises, there is a proverb to suit it. (Proverb from Rwanda and Burundi)

Welcome to this space where we can talk about proverbs that we can relate to (or not), and proverbs that make sense to us (or not). Most of all we can discuss how proverbs make us think about life and living. We can also share experiences of proverbs that have provided us with lifelines or just the chance to reflect.

Some of the proverbs here may also be found in "Lifelines: The Black Book of Proverbs", published by Random House and authored by Askhari Johnson Hodari and me. The foreword is written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

One of the unique features of our book is that we arranged the proverbs according to life cycle, in sections including, Birth, Childhood, Love, Marriage, and Intimacy, Challenge, and Death.

For more proverbs and for information on Lifelines: the Black Book of Proverbs, please visit us at