Thursday, July 29, 2021

Short Summary: The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois

The Souls of Black Folk (in Castilian The souls of black people ) is a classic of American literature published by WEB Du Bois in 1903 . It is a seminal work in the history of sociology and a basic tenet for the history of African-American literature . 

The Souls of Black Folk contains several essays on the breed , some of which had previously been published in the Atlantic Monthly magazine . Du Bois drew from his own experience to develop this pioneering work on what it was like to be an African American in American society. The Souls of Black Folk , outside of its notable place in African American history , also occupies an important place in the social sciences as one of the earliest sociological works . 

Chapters of The Souls of Black Folk

Each chapter in The Souls of the Black People is headed by an epigraph , usually a quote from a European poet, accompanied by the transcription of the melody (but without the lyrics) of a black spiritual chant about sadness, suffering, hope and the affirmation. Their importance lies in the fact that they are both original and communal - designating a group of people rather than an individual - and that they represent Du Bois' call to the struggle of African Americans. 

Chapter 1 provides an overview of Du Bois's thesis for the book: that blacks in the South have the right to vote, to a good education, and to be treated equally and fairly .

The first chapter also introduces the famous metaphor of the veil . According to Du Bois, this veil is worn by all African Americans, because their worldview and opportunities for economic, political, and social potential are so different from that of whites. The veil is a visual manifestation of racial discrimination , a problem that Du Bois worked his entire life to remedy. Du Bois sublimates the function of the veil when he refers to it as a gift of clairvoyance to African Americans: thus, they simultaneously characterize the veil as a blessing or a curse. 

The second chapter, The Dawn of Freedom , covers the history of the Liberation Agency during reconstruction.

Chapters 3 through 6 focus on education. Du Bois argued against Booker T. Washington , who argued that blacks should focus solely on industrial education, and advocated the incorporation of a classical education to train leaders and educators in the black community.

Chapters 7 through 10 contain sociological studies on the black community. Du Bois investigated the influence segregation and discrimination have had on Black people. He argued that much of the negative stereotypes of blacks as lazy, violent and naive were the results of the treatment of whites.

In Chapter 10, On the Faith of the Fathers , Du Bois argues that the Black Church is deeply linked to black political movements. Instead of seeing this as a positive, you see it as a weakness that you must overcome. He sees the Church as the last remnants of tribal life that must be overthrown in order for black civilization to prosper. He affirms that from the middle of the 18th century the black slave was sunk to the bottom of the economic scale and that for this reason he lost all the charm in the world. Then the Church offered him salvationIn the other world, which he clung to. On the contrary, for Du Bois, the then slave, and the now "black man", must contemplate salvation in this life to build a culture of economic prosperity. However, he said that this was much better than the great Christian Church in which he was never excluded. It offered a future program for the Church to purchase real estate for its members to increase their economic status in society.

The last chapters of the The Souls of Black Folk are dedicated to the stories of people. Chapter 11, On the Death of the Firstborn , tells the story of Du Bois's own son and his untimely death. In the next chapter, the life of Alexander Crummell is a short biography of a black priest in the Episcopal Church. Chapter XIII, On the Coming of John , is the fictional story of a Georgia boy who goes to college and on his return is rejected by his black community and by the white patricians of his city.

The last chapter of The Souls of Black Folk is about black music and refers to the short musical passages transcribed at the beginning of each of the other chapters. Here's what Du Bois had to say about these slave songs: I know that these songs are the articulate message of the slave to the world