Educator, essayist, journalist, scholar, social critic, and activist W.E.B. DuBois, was born to Mary Sylvina Burghardt and Alfred Dubois on February 23, 1868 in Great Barrington, . He excelled in the public schools of Great Barrington, graduating valedictorian from his high school in 1884. Four years later he received a B.A. from in Nashville, . In 1890 DuBois earned a second bachelor degree from Harvard University. DuBois began two years of graduate studies in History and Economics at the University of Berlin in in 1892 and then returned to the United States to begin a two year stint teaching Greek and Latin at in Ohio. In 1895, DuBois became the first African American to earn a Ph.D. at Harvard University. His doctoral thesis, "," became the first book published by Harvard University Press in 1896. Later that year DuBois married Nina Gomer and the couple had two children. After the death of his first wife in 1950, DuBois married Shirley Graham who remained his wife until his death.
Before the close of the 19th century, DuBois also taught at the University of and . During this time, he became the first scholar to systematically study African American urban life. DuBois’s first post-dissertation book, , released in 1899, determined that housing and employment discrimination were the principal barriers to racial equality and black prosperity in the urban North. His work and conclusions initiated the field of African American urban history.
The most influential public critique of Booker T. Washington’s policy of racial accommodation and gradualism came in 1903 when black leader and intellectual W.E.B. DuBois published an essay in his collection with the title “Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others.” DuBois rejected Washington’s willingness to avoid rocking the racial boat, calling instead for political power, insistence on civil rights, and the higher education of Negro youth.
Public Education Essay: WEB Dubois and Booker T. Washington