The Associated Press

W. E. B. Dubois, 1960.

August 28, 1963


W. E. B. DuBois Dies in Ghana; Negro Leader and Author, 95

Philosopher, Who Helped to Found N.A.A.C.P., Later Turned to Communism

Special to The New York Times


CCRA, Ghana, Wednesday, Aug. 28--W. E. B. DuBois, the American Negro philosopher and writer, who settled in Ghana a few years ago, died last night, the Government announced. He was 95 years old.

Dr. DuBois, who had come here as a special guest of President Kwame Nkrumah, was director of the Encyclopedia Africana, which is sponsored by the Government. He became a citizen of Ghana this year.

Leader of Negro Thought

For more than half a century, William Edward Burghardt DuBois was a monumental and often controversial, leader of Negro thought.

As a sociologist, educator and writer, he frequently disagreed not only with whites but with members of his own race. Early in his career, he challenged the philosophy of Booker T. Washington. Dr. DuBois was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, but later broke with the organization under conditions of bitterness.

During his later years, he was active in many left-wing and Communist activities. In the fall of 1961--at the age of 93--he joined the Communist party. At about the same time, he went to Ghana as head of the secretariat planning the new Negro encyclopedia.

Dr. DuBois was born in Great Barrington, Mass., on Feb. 23, 1868, five years after the Emancipation Proclamation. He was born, as he phrased it in his autobiography, "Dusk at Dawn," "with a flood of Negro blood, a strain of French, a bit of Dutch, but, thank God, no 'Anglo-Saxon.'"

In Great Barrington, a tolerant, provincial town, Dr. DuBois grew up as one of about 50 Negroes among 5,000 inhabitants. His mother's family, among whom he was raised, had lived in a relatively humble situation in a community where social status was determined by income and ancestry and not by color.

Because of this economic leveling, Dr. DuBois was not faced with racial discrimination until he had left New England to attend college in the South.

At Fisk and Harvard

After receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree from Fisk University in 1888, he attended Harvard and received the same degree there in 1890, a Master of Arts in 1891 and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1895.

His doctoral thesis, "The Suppression of the African Slave Trade to the United States," was the first volume published in the Harvard Historical Studies.

He taught successively at Wilberforce University, the University of Pennsylvania and Atlanta University, resigning from Atlanta in 1909 to become founder of the N.A.A.C.P. and the editor of its publication, The Crisis.

Dr. DuBois disagreed with the doctrine of Booker T. Washington that the Negro should raise himself by his own bootstraps and strive for an education basically vocational. Dr. DuBois envisioned the education of a "talented 10th" that would lead a self-sufficient Negro society.

He remained editor of The Crisis until 1934, when he broke with the N.A.A.C.P. on questions of policy. For the next 10 years, he taught at Atlanta once more, only to resign again in 1944 to return to the N.A.A.C.P. as director of research. Four years later, after another disagreement, he left the N.A.A.C.P. for good.

Dr. DuBois then served successively as consultant to the United Nations upon its formation in San Francisco in 1945, as head of the Council of African Affairs, and, in 1949, as chairman of the Peace Information Center in New York.

The center was the sponsor in this country for the so-called Stockholm Peace Petition, a movement characterized by the Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, as Communist-inspired.

Dr. DuBois and other officers of the center were indicted by a Federal grand jury on a charge of failure to register as foreign agents. They were acquitted after a trial in which the chief defense counsel was the late Representative Vito Marcantonio of Manhattan.

Won Peace Council Prize

In 1950, Dr. DuBois ran unsuccessfully for United States Senator on the American Labor party ticket.

In 1952, he received a Grand International Prize valued at $7,000 from the World Peace Council, headed by the French scientist Frederic Joliot-Curie.

Among Dr. DuBois' major writings were "Souls of Black Folk," published in 1903; "Darkwater" 1920; "Dark Princess" 1924; "The Encyclopedia of the Negro," 1931-1946; "The Gift of the Black Folk," and "In Battle for Peace" 1952.

Henry James in "The American Scene" published in 1907, wrote:

"How can everything have so gone that the only Southern book of any distinction published for many a year is 'The Souls of Black Folk.'"

In his application to join the Communist party, Dr. DuBois wrote that he had been "long and slow" in deciding to apply for membership, "but at last my mind is settled." He said that he had joined the Socialist party in 1911, but had resigned to support Woodrow Wilson.

For the next 20 years, he said, he attacked the Democrats, Republicans and Socialists. He said that he had "praised the attitudes of the Communists but opposed their tactics in the case of the Scottsboro boys and their advocacy of a Negro state."

In recent years, Dr. DuBois traveled extensively in Communist China and the Soviet Union. On his 91st birthday, he was honored in Peking by a celebration attended by Premier Chou En-lai.

Honored By Soviet

In 1959, Dr. DuBois received the Soviet Lenin Peace Prize "for strengthening world peace."

Dr. DuBois was the first Negro to be elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters. He was also a life member and fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

In manner, Dr. DuBois was reserved and somewhat formal, although his few intimate friends found him warm and companionable. He was distinguished by a mustache and goatee, pince-nez glasses, and he invariably carried a cane. His dress was immaculate.

His first wife, Mrs. Nina Gomer DuBois, whom he married in 1896, died in 1950, and a year later, he married Shirley Graham, a writer.

Surviving are his widow and a daughter, Mrs. Yolanda Williams of Baltimore. Dr. DuBois' home in this country was at 31 Grace Court, Brooklyn.

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