By Aldon Morris, writer of The Scholar Denied: W. E. B. Du Bois and also the bear of modern Sociology

Today point out the 149th anniversary the the birth of W. E. B. Du Bois. Just over a mainly ago, The United states Department that Education, top by its freshly appointed Secretary Betsy DeVos, set out to respect Du Bois throughout Black history Month. Top top the Department’s official website Du Bois’ famous quote “Education must not just teach occupational – it have to teach life” to be emblazoned. It to be wonderful that this great controversial scholar and also activist was being honored through the department of Education. However, all hell broke loosened once the quotation make its rounds v social and also print media, and also radio and also television. The factor for the explode is that the department of education and learning attributed Du Bois’ quote to “W.E.B. DeBois!”

Du Bois was precise when it concerned the created word. That would have been unamused by the misspelling of his name and by all people, the department of Education. Responding come a speaking invitation by the Chicago Sunday Evening club in 1939, Du Bois make it clear that: “My name is express in the clean English fashion: Du, with u together in Sue; Bois, as in oi in voice. The accent is top top the 2nd syllable.” offered Du Bois’ exactness about the spelling and pronunciation of his name, the department of education was derelict in that is duty come educate. Favor the school youngsters it represents, the the very least DeVos and also her Department need to do is your homework before going public.

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We should not just obsess through this terrible spelling error. The significance of Du Bois’ occupational for the country and the world should it is in the focus always. Du Bois excelled as a social scientist, male of letters, journalist, philosopher, poet and novelist and prodigious activist. The is the scholar that the twentieth century the taught united state most about race and also its future ar in America and the world. His penetrating work on the global color line unraveling the souls the black and white people remains very relevant in these troubling times. No human today have to be labeled “learned” without having actually read Du Bois’ timeless classics, The Souls of Black Folk, and Black Reconstruction and also his unstable article, The Souls of White Folk.

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Du Bois’ activism influenced social readjust throughout the twenty century. Du Bois’ radical ideas and also activism helped overthrow colonialism and race be suppressive in Africa, Asia, and also South America. Du Bois was crucial in transforming America. By gift a founder the the Niagara Movement, the NAACP and also the Crisis Magazine, Du Bois developed the blueprint through which Martin Luther king, Jr. And also the polite rights movement overthrew Jim Crow. In honoring Du Bois’ pioneering activism, Dr. King wrote, “One idea that insistently teach was the black human being have been maintained in oppression and deprivation through a poison fog the lies… The twisted reasonable ran if the black man was worse he was no oppressed-his ar in society was suitable to his meager talent and intellect. Dr. Du Bois recognized that the keystone in the arch the oppression was the myth of inferiority and also he devoted his brilliant talent to demolish it.”

Du Bois sustained young black student protesters reminiscent of activists in black Lives issue today. Responding to black student protests in the 1920s, Du Bois exclaimed, “And below again we are constantly actually or potentially saying hush come children and students, us are placing on the soft peddle, we space teaching castle subterfuge and compromise, we are leading them around to earlier doors for are afraid that they shall refer themselves. And also yet whenever and wherever we perform this we are wrong, absolutely and eternally wrong. Unless we are willing come train our children to it is in cowards, come run like dogs as soon as they space kicked, come whine and also lick the hand that slaps them, us have got to teach castle self-realization and also self-expression.”

The department of education and learning should not have misspelled Du Bois’ name. However, top top Du Bois’ 149th birthday, we need to not mistake the trees (misspelled name) for the woodland (prodigious human body of scholarship and activism) when considering the definition of Du Bois. Indeed, the mythical “DeBois” withers from vision when faced with the actual W. E. B. Du Bois.

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Aldon D. Morris is Leon Forrest Professor of Sociology and also African American researches at Northwestern University and the writer of The origins of the Civil rights Movement: Black neighborhoods Organizing because that Change, among other books. And read much more about Aldon’s thoughts From Du Bois come Black resides Matter.