W. E. B. Du Bois’s Legacy as a Black Radical Intellectual
Memory is not simply a way of holding on, it is a reencounter.
Imani Perry (2018)
In an essay collection titled William Du Bois: Scholar, Humanitarian, Freedom Fighter produced by the Africa Institute of Russia, scholar G. B. Starushenko observed:
A bitter ideological struggle is being waged over the name of William Edward Burghardt Du Bois . . . It is not at all surprising that his name has now and again produced a clash of something like diametrically opposite ideas, and this is perhaps inevitable, considering that his was a personality of many facets and great complexity.”1
Published in 1971, only eight years after Du Bois’s death, Starushenko’s dialectally framed comments highlight the battles then raging about Du Bois’s memory and legacy as a black radical intellectual. Taking its cue from Starushenko’s observation, this article traces out the history of how activists and intellectuals crafted Du Bois’s radical legacy. It examines the specific roles Shirley Graham Du Bois and David Graham Du Bois played in curating his memory. Several examples contextualize the argument and broaden the view of battles over Du Bois’s legacy at the time of Starushenko’s remarks. These include the rise of the W. E. B. Du Bois Clubs and ceremonial gestures designed to commemorate his life and ideas.2
The launch of the W. E. B. Du Bois Clubs in 1962 was one pathway of preserving Du Bois’s memory. Bettina Aptheker, a founder and close comrade of the Du Bois family, believed that invoking Du Bois’s name “announce[d] our revolutionary intentions without officially tying us to the Communist Party,” a crucial dilemma during a time of blistering state and federal repression and increased anti-radical surveillance. “We felt that with the Du Bois Clubs, we could openly sponsor classes on Marxism,” she continued, “and plan for participation in a burgeoning civil rights movement in an organized and consistent way.”3 A founding statement referred to its namesake as “a great American Negro writer, educator, and freedom fighter” who inspired “the consideration of socialism as an alternative to the present system . . . a socialist society in the United States is the only way that fundamental problems of poverty, discrimination and war will be solved.”4 The Clubs’ pamphlets extolled his political convictions as someone “who fought for the rights of American Negroes and for peace and justice . . .” and celebrated that, as “A socialist, he was a brave fighter for all mankind for as long as he lived. We are proud to carry his name.”5 Another comrade and founder, Jarvis Tyner, who later chaired the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA), pointed to Du Bois’s inspirational influence in “the struggle for world peace, for freedom, against racism, colonialism, [and] imperialism . . . Dr. Du Bois has left the youth of the world many valuable treasures in his writings and in his struggles.”6
The Du Bois Clubs were denounced and subjected to extreme vitriol wherever they went, not least by future president Richard Nixon. As the chair of the Boys Club of America in 1966—a position he gained through J. Edgar Hoover’s background maneuvering—Nixon made the ludicrous claim that since “Du Bois” rhymed with “Boys,” Du Bois Clubs sought to dupe would-be members of Boys Club of America into joining the Communist cause.7
Along with the formation of leftist organizations in his name, memorialization helped to keep the focus on Du Bois’s radicalism. In early 1964, six months after his death in Ghana, supporters held a commemorative meeting in his honor at New York City’s Carnegie Hall. Recognizing the anticommunist and anti-black sentiments that animated the times, Du Bois Memorial Committee member Ossie Davis remarked that the event aimed to “secure to the Afro-American consciousness the personality, image and cultural significance of the most illustrious Afro American scholar of our time, and to present to Americans at large a proper sense of Dr. DuBois’ intellectual contributions to American life.”8 History professor John Hope Franklin, a longtime Du Bois admirer, delivered the keynote. Cognizant of the moment’s historical gravity, he observed, “The manner in which the death of W. E. B. Du Bois was reported in some quarters here in the United States is itself a curious commentary on the extent to which the country of his birth was out of touch with him.”9 Lorraine Hansberry—who would also speak at the 1968 Du Bois centennial meeting at Carnegie Hall, the same event at which Martin Luther King delivered his famous “Honoring Dr. Du Bois” address—registered explicit support for Du Bois’s politics. “In his memory, I mean to say what I mean and mean what I say,” she proclaimed, “I think that certainly DuBois’ legacy teaches us to look toward and work for a socialist organization of society as the next great and dearly won universal condition of mankind.”10 Similarly, Eslanda Robeson commented, “Dr. DuBois recognized and appreciated the power and success of Socialism, and was convinced that the world—however reluctantly in some places—would have to arrive at some form of Socialism in insuring the progress and well-being of the majority of people.” Continuing to connect Du Bois to a global black freedom struggle, she stated, “During his last years he recognized that Freedom and Peace are the Number One issues in the world today, and worked consistently toward these goals . . . In a world context Dr. Du Bois recognized that people everywhere must be free.”11
Though Du Bois’s left leanings were sometimes recognized, they were more often reviled and rejected. Several years after the 1964 Carnegie Hall Ceremony, in Great Barrington the politically radical orientation of the late civil rights leader divided his hometown. For many residents, Du Bois’s choice to join the CPUSA in 1961 was unforgivable. Op-eds and letters to the editor in local Great Barrington newspapers reflected typical Cold War anticommunist ideology. Opposition expressed in racially coded language manifested fears and anxieties about militant civil rights. Despite stiff resistance, some of which was likely instigated through the Boston office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in 1969 an interracial memorial committee succeeded in hosting an event to honor Du Bois. The contest over Du Bois’s legacy would continue to divide friends and foes alike. While such fractures healed in some cases, many refused to remember the towering African American intellectual apart from his support of communism and socialism.12
These selected episodes help us to recognize the larger historical, political, and social context of Starushenko’s 1971 comment about controversy over Du Bois’s memory. They pinpoint a virulent anti-black anticommunism at play during the Cold War and anticipate ongoing strands of opposition that followed Du Bois’s memory and legacy beyond the grave into the post-Cold War period. However, they also reveal how intellectuals, scholars, and activists succeeded at putting his ideas into everyday practice. In short, these accounts demonstrate how both individuals and institutions remembered Du Bois, and document the aspects of Du Bois that were remembered or commemorated.
Observations about Du Bois’s legacy are not merely political artifacts of issues at play a half-century ago. They require our sustained attention on the occasion of the sesquicentennial of Du Bois’s birth because so much of what he devoted his intellectual and cultural resources to eradicating—namely the destructive alliance of racialized capitalism and white supremacy—not only survives in a White House spewing the poison of neoconfederate violence in word and deed, but also continues to shackle the planet. Such a conjuncture of the past with the present compels commemorative, critical reflections on Du Bois’s legacy. This article, therefore, is a provocation to remember the intersections of socialism and democracy in Du Bois’s life as much as it is an intellectual product of archival research and historical narration about the making of Du Bois’s radical legacy. Most specifically, it documents Shirley Graham Du Bois’s archivally oriented and preservationist-minded role in crafting the intellectual legacy of her late husband and accounts for the ideological emphasis of David Graham Du Bois’s political mobilization to extend his step-father’s scholarly and activist efforts. It shows how black leftists and radicals, along with white comrades, preserved a broad recognition of Du Bois’s devotion to economic and political equality through socialism. It displays how the distinctive global conception of freedom to which he devoted his life left its imprint on activists and scholars who carried out intellectual insurgencies in his name. In what follows I pick up on some of the storyline with which I opened this article by further addressing the making of Du Bois’s legacy. Thereafter, I examine Shirley Graham Du Bois’s literary and visual labors to archive her late husband’s memory and David Graham Du Bois’s political and institutional endeavors to maintain his step-father’s radical and intellectual heritage.13
Any discussion of Du Bois’s legacy must acknowledge his own role in creating the possibility for it, namely his penchant for self-documentation, which is to say the practice of archiving his life’s work under the assumption that scholars would eventually study it. A year after Du Bois died anthropologist St. Clair Drake alluded to this in his description of the late scholar’s life as one “lived experimentally and self-documented.”14 In his late teens Du Bois began collecting his own historical artifacts once he realized his plans and ambitions to study race, politics, culture, and history—what he called “the Negro problem.”15 These artifacts, including correspondence, papers, poems, book manuscripts, speeches, and research files, eventually constituted his archive, most of which resides at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) along with a significant portion at Fisk University. While the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and Yale University also house smaller collections of Du Bois’s papers, the decades-long editorial efforts of the radical historian Herbert Aptheker also produced a published Du Bois archive of over fifty edited volumes.16
But it was not just Du Bois and Aptheker who collaborated (with the labor of other scholars and his spouse, Fay, and daughter, Bettina) to create Du Bois’s archive. Countless activists and scholars worked to publish and popularize his writings and apply his historical insights to the needs to the political moment. In addition to the Du Bois Clubs and the Carnegie Hall commemorative ceremonies in 1964 and 1968 discussed above, several more examples put the work of Shirley Graham Du Bois and David Graham Du Bois in richer historical context.
While in 1966 Bobby Seale acknowledged the Black Panther Party’s intellectual and political debts to works like Du Bois’s Black Reconstruction, scholars and activists in the nascent Black Studies movement viewed Du Bois as one of the field’s intellectual and political progenitors.17 In that same historical moment, other activists, scholars, and writers leveraged Du Bois’s intellectual heritage to make his writings more widely available: in the decade following his death a dozen anthologies of his work appeared in print.18 This further disseminated his words and ideas. The wider availability of Du Bois’s writings also bolstered the work of scholars and graduate students who continued to produce scholastic interpretations of his life and times—all of which contributed to the production of his legacy.
Meanwhile, in Atlanta at the founding of the Institute of the Black World (IBW), theologian and historian Vincent Harding found Du Bois’s work politically and intellectually meaningful. “The IBW came into existence as a result of our commitment to the hopes and plans of the dead yet living fathers in the Black intellectual community, most notably W. E. B. DuBois,” wrote Harding in 1970 for the Introduction of Lerone Bennett’s The Challenge of Blackness. “Based as we were in the Atlanta University Center schools,” he continued, “it was not difficult for us to remember and recount his work at the beginning of the century toward a research center which would develop a hundred-year study of the Black Experience.”19
In the late 1970s, scholars and activists continued to plumb the depth of Du Bois’s intellectual legacy in response to conditions of black people across the globe. A February 1978 meeting at the United Nations held on the occasion of his 110th birthday featured hours of testimony about Du Bois’s historical impact during the nineteenth and early-to-mid twentieth century. Speakers registered the ongoing relevance of his diasporic, Pan-African vision for black liberation. A roster of speakers representing the United States, Africa, Haiti, Jamaica, and South America joined their voices in commemoration of and reflection on Du Bois’s legacy. African National Congress (ANC) member Fred Dube described Du Bois’s Pan-Africanism as the “foundation stone” of the ANC’s work.20 CPUSA organizer and activist Esther Cooper Jackson attributed to Du Bois inspiration for her journalistic efforts in Freedomways and her understanding of black internationalism. She also praised both his socialism and Pan-African teachings, along with his support of women’s liberation, as signatures of both his legacy and what historian Erik McDuffie calls “black left feminism.”21 “He was an inspirer of many women who were active in civil rights and civil liberties organizations,” she stated.22 Finally, activist and Du Bois scholar Tony Monteiro linked the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa to Du Bois’s global perspective:
DuBois urged the fighters for liberation on the African continent, to seek all allies in their struggle . . . This fight today is of particular concern to the peoples of the United States and in particular the Afro-American people who realize in this struggle against racism a crucial aspect of their own struggle against racial oppression here in the United States.”23
Such efforts on behalf of this unparalleled Pan-African radical extended into the 1980s and 1990s. In 1989, CPUSA leader James Jackson wrote that “W. E. B. Du Bois’ lasting testament and his last historic deed was to dramatize his firm conviction that ‘capitalist society is altogether evil,’ that it is like an old house in a state of collapse from the roof to the basement.” To eradicate racism and poverty and to achieve lasting peace, Jackson continued, Du Bois knew that humanity “must, sooner than later, come to the conclusion that this old structure is beyond effective reform, and that a new social system must be instituted to provide humankind with a deserving quality of life.”24 About Du Bois’s legacy, Gerald Horne observed in 1994 that,
Du Bois is not forgotten. His name still evokes a passion for learning, a principled militance, and an unquestioned integrity . . . the memory of Du Bois will continue to be alive as long as the struggle for equality and socialism thrives. In other words, the memory of Du Bois will last forever.
Echoing his comments from the previous decade, Tony Monteiro wrote in People’s World Weekly that “The modern civil rights movement and African liberation movements owe more to [Du Bois] than any other single person.”25
Collectively, the efforts narrated above combined to produce aspects of Du Bois’s legacy as an intellectual, author, writer, propagandist, poet, playwright, and journalist. Overall, the aforementioned accounts worked in various political capacities to designate Du Bois as one of the major intellectual architects of modern struggles for black freedom, peace, and economic democracy. The previous anecdotes, however, only selectively narrate the development of Du Bois’s legacy over time. Numerous other women and men created the possibility for extending his intellectual heritage to the present day, especially Shirley Graham Du Bois and David Graham Du Bois, who the remainder of this article spotlights.
Shirley Graham Du Bois and W. E. B. Du Bois’s Life after Death
As a young girl Shirley met W. E. B. in the early 1900s when he stayed at her family’s house in Colorado during one of his lecture trips. However, once she reached adulthood he loomed large in her consciousness and in her work. Starting in the mid-1930s the two began romantic liaisons while W. E. B. was still married to but living away from his first wife Nina Gomer Du Bois. Though desire and love bonded the two, there existed between them an intense and mutually beneficial intellectual affinity and political kinship, what political theorist Charisse Burden-Stelly calls “mutual comradeship.” Historian Gerald Horne writes of Shirley that “Being able to flaunt his presence was an emblem of her own success.”26 Horne and other scholars have assessed Shirley Graham’s longer-term alliance with Du Bois, along with her work as an intellectual, artist, and activist. Beyond her placement of his archive at UMass in June 1973, it is her efforts over time to curate the memory and legacy of her radical husband that deserve far more attention.27
A 1965 Freedomways issue on W. E. B. Du Bois anthologized tributes to him, featured scholarly essays about his work, and included a selection of his writings. Shirley’s tribute to her late husband stated that for one of the twentieth century’s most notable intellectuals “there must be no idle mourning.” In italicized phrases she repeated “he lives” multiple times. “He lives in greater abundance than ever before. He lives on both sides of the Atlantic,” she wrote.28 Shirley’s phrase “no idle mourning” suggests her future orientation in thinking about the memory of W. E. B. Du Bois. Her emphatic repetition about his life after death discloses how keenly focused she already was on his legacy by the time he passed away—a disposition she in fact possessed well before he died. For the remaining years of her life, until 1977, she worked assiduously as an “ideological shield,” to use Gerald Horne’s description, in the service of her late spouse’s memory as a black radical intellectual.29
Shirley’s correspondence reveals her attempts to curate Du Bois’s future well before he died in 1963. Shortly after her marriage to W. E. B., and their collective escape from the anti-black anticommunist McCarthy dragnet, she proposed the creation of a Du Bois Foundation. The aim of such an initiative was to find ways to publish the remaining work of Du Bois’s life, and to arrange funding for republishing some of his early books such as The Suppression of the African Slave Trade and The Philadelphia Negro. She wished for Du Bois to continue “to use unsparingly the accumulated knowledge and experience of many years for the good of all of us.”30 Another concern for the proposed Foundation was the preservation of W. E. B.’s archive. To black scientist Percy Julian, Shirley wrote in 1952 about the Foundation’s “disseminating and preserving the contributions to human development made by Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois.”31 Julian pledged money and a willingness to “lend any possible further assistance and encouragement to this project.” Personalizing his commitment, he further stated:
I have often regretted that my own library does not contain a complete set of the books written by Dr. Du Bois, and I think it would be a tragedy for my children if I could not have such a complete set to leave them. You are, therefore, voicing as his dear wife a desire that I personally have voiced for many years, and I most heartily salute the effort . . .. I am, therefore, a little bit sentimental about the matter of preserving his memory, his spirit and his character for the generations to come.32
Julian’s support for preserving Du Bois’s published legacy aligned with Shirley’s aims and desires for the Foundation, including the unpublished portion of his archive. “His nine steel file cases and thirty smaller wooded cases are bursting with papers,” she described the collection then housed at Herbert Aptheker’s Brooklyn home.33 Shirley intended to use the archive to publish her own definitive book on her husband before making his papers more widely available to scholars and students. On two occasions she refused to make archival materials available for scholars working on Yolande Du Bois, W. E. B.’s daughter, and Countee Cullen, the accomplished black poet. “Her marriage to Countee Cullen was an unhappy and very short affair,” Shirley commented, “Both are dead and I shall not give permission for her unhappy romance to be publicized.”34 The abundance of archival material in Shirley’s possession—“perhaps the best library on colored peoples in America”—formed the documentary foundation upon which her memoir His Day is Marching On depended.35
Before her memoir appeared, however, she arranged for Ghana Universities Press to publish a volume of W. E. B.’s poems. Not only did Shirley and W. E. B. discuss this book before he died, its publication was part of her effort to shape a particular version of Du Bois in historical memory. In discussions with her lawyer and confidante Bernard Jaffe, both Shirley and Jaffe commented on how different constituencies attempted to remember a more respectable rather than radical Du Bois. “I think it is inevitable that many different kinds of memorials are going to be held, and that each group will pay its tribute in its own coin,” he told her several months after Du Bois’s death. “It will be a long time before people here appreciate and accept the totality of W. E. B.’s field without simply picking out the pieces they regard as comfortable, safe and self-supporting.”36 Attempting to put forth a more radical Du Bois, Shirley invited Ghana’s president and the Du Boises’ comrade Kwame Nkrumah to pen the Foreword to the poems. He found in Du Bois’s verse the black scholar’s “indomitable spirit” and described the poetry as “the eloquent expressions of a sensitive Fighter Poet who for three-quarters of a century struggled against waves of Oppression, Misery and Woe which engulfed his people.”37 Shirley’s Introduction expressed excitement for a new generation of independent Africans who might find inspiration from Du Bois’s poetry. “Night fell for him,” she concluded, “But his pursuit of Truth remains with us—unchanged.” Published in 1964, the slim volume of poems exemplified Graham Du Bois’s efforts to preserve her late husband’s legacy as a radical, Pan-African poet, intellectual, and scholar.38
Outside of the poems, which had limited circulation in the United States, the most public registers of Shirley’s work to document her husband’s legacy appeared in two books about W. E. B. completed in the 1970s.39
Her 1971 memoir of her marriage to and life with Du Bois titled His Day is Marching On recalled her fascination with and appreciation for him. In the book W. E. B. is a consummate intellectual, profound public speaker, extraordinarily productive scholar, and charming lover. We learn that he enjoyed good food and inspiring music as much as he loved enlivening conversations and robust scholarship. Shirley’s book succeeds in humanizing W. E. B. the person behind Dr. Du Bois the public scholar. He’s also a Pan-African intellectual, whose classes on African history at the CPUSA’s Jefferson School of Social Science spilled over into afterglow discussions at the couple’s Brooklyn residence, spaces that cultivated both comradeship and political formation. In Shirley’s re-telling, these living room sessions cultivated political networks that inspired liberation in Africa. “During recent years I have met more than one now highly placed African official who told me how much he appreciated such evenings in our Brooklyn home,” she commented. The Appendixes of His Day is Marching On show Shirley’s curation of Du Bois’s Pan-African legacy: she included his address to The First All-African People’s Conference from December 1958, a speech she delivered on his behalf, as well as his poem “Ghana Calls.” The Appendixes are a kind of analogue to her work at manicuring Du Bois’s legacy. The memoir reveals early sketches of her plans to publish, or arrange for others to publish, Du Bois’s work. She writes of her and W. E. B.’s conversations and plans for Herbert Aptheker to edit his massive archive.40
Around the time of the memoir’s publication, she traveled back to the U. S. In a 1971 radio interview on the Atlanta based Southern Christian Leadership Conference program Martin Luther King Today, Charlayne Hunter and Esther Cooper Jackson interviewed her about living in Africa, decolonization, education, student protests, and radical politics. They queried her about ongoing anticommunist repression, especially of freedom fighter Angela Davis. Shirley reminded her hosts and the listening audience that Du Bois was his own thinker and made a rational decision to join the CPUSA at the end of his life. Commenting on his 1951 federal indictment for acting as an agent of a foreign principal, she stated, “[E]verybody who knew W. E. B. Du Bois knew that he wasn’t nobody’s agent, never had been and never would be. Everybody who knew him knew that he just wasn’t anybody’s agent.”41 In the context of Du Bois’s legacy being made and re-made, Shirley carefully and keenly crafted her late husband’s memory as distinctly Pan-African, global, literary, and intellectual.
These are also precisely the themes that she emphasized in speeches about Du Bois that she delivered during the 1970s. In Cairo she gave a talk at the African Society of Egypt on September 23, 1974 where she presented to the association some of the fruits of Herbert Aptheker’s editorial labor: the first five volumes of the Kraus-Thomson edition of Du Bois’s published writings, and the first of what became three volumes of correspondence published by the University of Massachusetts Press. “History gives us a long list of men of great minds and lofty spirits who were not understood or appreciated until after their death,” Shirley stated. So today “we speak of a Son, an inheritor of the knowledge, the endurance, the wisdom and the culture of this Continent.” For Shirley, the benefit of having his publications in hand was self-evident: “Du Bois’ writing is always very clear, often profound, frequently eloquent and sometimes cuttingly witty.” Tracking this global, Pan-African, and radical influence she described how he “inspired peoples of Africa, the Caribbean and Asia. At long last men and women of Africa were standing up in an international assembly, and speaking their minds, were calling on the world to heed their combined voices . . . [and] planned action.”42 Early the next year at Vanderbilt University she struck a similar tone about the political impact of his global legacy in an address titled “W. E. B. Du Bois: The Father of Pan-Africanism.” After recounting the details of his work in organizing five Pan-African conferences, she alluded to the global potential of an Afro-Asian alliance about which Du Bois had written and spoken. “All Africa marching towards the rising sun of a New Day as our allies of the Third World, shaking off lethargy, rise in their strength and shake off age-old exploitation. And the earth turning on its axis, shifts the balance of power! This was the vision Du Bois saw!”43
Shirley’s final publication, W. E. B. Du Bois: A Pictorial Biography was a very self-conscious project to continue framing her late spouse’s legacy. It was published the year after her death in 1978 by Chicago’s Johnson Publishing Company—the same corporate outfit associated with midcentury black magazines Ebony and Jet. Shirley believed in chair John H. Johnson’s work and his ability to assist in reaching a wide audience. In the Foreword to his mother’s book, David Graham Du Bois alluded to this very fact. “She felt strongly that a Johnson-published book on Dr. Du Bois would ultimately find its way into far more Afro-American homes than one done by any major, white-owned publishing house,” he commented, “This is what she passionately wanted.” The decision to go with Johnson Publishing Company proved a perceptive choice to place her late spouse’s legacy before a new generation. David also described the pictorial biography as a “major contribution to the legacy left us by Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois and a fitting conclusion and memorial to the life of Shirley Graham Du Bois, whose later years were so totally devoted to promoting and safe-guarding that legacy.”44
Seven of the book’s twelve chapters visualize W. E. B.’s latter years, which makes sense given the time period with which Shirley’s life intersected his. However, an emphasis on the twilight period of his career—with numerous pictures of their sojourn in the late 1950s to China and Russia, along with the last three chapters of images from Africa—also renders a radical Du Bois, which was just the kind of political optics she wished to give the world of her late husband. Up until her final days, Graham Du Bois believed in the power of art and images to render a visual politics that dignified black life and culture in rebellion against white supremacy.
While Graham Du Bois’s two books published in the 1970s offer ample evidence of how she curated her husband’s memory more publicly after his death, her correspondence and unpublished speeches also document the wide expanse of her curatorial imagination. To discuss how Shirley shaped Du Bois’s legacy and memory is not to summarize it as mere propaganda, behind-the-scenes angling, or a shrill practice of situational politics. Rather, acquainted with Du Bois’s life and mind, she understood the wisdom of longer-term planning and thinking. Furthermore, her own experience with FBI surveillance equipped her with knowledge of propaganda’s power both in the form of anticommunist recrimination and in the mode of literary and artistic resistance to white supremacy. As a black radical woman, she used her artistic sensibilities and her skill as an intellectual and writer to re-narrate the reception of, perception about, and reputational future of her husband, with whom her own destiny was indelibly bound.45
David Graham Du Bois and W. E. B. Du Bois’s Socialist Revolution
While the name David Graham Du Bois typically appears in texts about W. E. B. Du Bois, very little work accounts critically for his cultural and political labor to extend W. E. B.’s legacy for peace and justice across the world.46 Like the scholarship on Shirley Graham Du Bois, there remains further exploration needed to understand David’s efforts in the crafting of W. E. B.’s memory.
David’s earliest memories of the man who would become his stepfather date to his childhood. Raised by his grandfather and grandmother, with whom Du Bois was friends, David recalled a profound adoration for “both the name and work of Du Bois . . . a venerated figure in the struggle for black liberation in this country.” After Shirley’s marriage to Du Bois in February 1951, David got to know his stepfather much more intimately by forging closer social and political ties with him. This contact, David recalled in a 1974 interview, produced both a deep respect and a sense of urgent action. “I saw myself at that time, if not following in his footsteps exactly, fulfilling my responsibility as any young black person should in that day, consistent with the ideology and the approach of Dr. Du Bois.”47 David’s inspiration from Du Bois’s energies toward black freedom struggles and investments in socialism and communism shaped both his publications about Du Bois and his institutional visions to mobilize and actualize his step-father’s political and intellectual legacy.48
Building on his work as a journalist and promoter of political knowledge, David’s legacy work during the Cold War adopted a Pan-African, internationalist frame to deliver proposals in honor of Du Bois’s memory. Writing for The Black Scholar, in 1978 he wrote that “Dr. Du Bois’s more than 70 years of struggle . . . places him in direct confrontation with the objectives of the diabolical oligarchy that rules the United States today.” David’s vexation about his stepfather’s legacy centered on the extent to which his work would service either capitalist ends or radical democratic activity. In other words, David wished for Du Bois’s work and memory to intellectually and politically fund socialist initiatives rather than promoting his legacy as a bourgeois scholar and reformer. At the time of the essay’s publication, David resided in Cairo, and the contemporary question of apartheid in South Africa animated his critique. Within this context, he issued a six-point proposal to ensure the enactment of Du Bois’s legacy: a commitment to scientific, research-based facts; a joy in work and occupation; a wide love for all of humanity; an abiding devotion to the betterment of black people; the eradication of racialized capitalism, colonialism, and imperialism; and a purposeful support of socialism and communism. “Those of us upon whom the mantle of Du Bois has fallen . . . must . . . confront and expose the distorters of the Du Bois legacy,” David concluded his essay, “That legacy must be spread among our youth and made the subject of study and emulation. It must spread throughout Africa and the world of colored peoples.”49
In a similar vein, David offered another specific reappraisal in 1982 that underscored the importance of Du Bois’s latter decades. He denounced the “dangerous” practice of stiff-arming the late career Du Bois, especially his work on Pan-Africanism and his unflagging support of decolonization and African freedom during the 1940s and 1950s. This period of his stepfather’s life offered “the most valuable lessons of his long life, the peaks of his own wisdom and understanding.” And he assailed the McCarthy era’s “ruthless and unrelenting . . . vindictiveness inflicted upon black dissidents by the centres of power in the US.” Again adopting an internationalist lens, David argued that black freedom abroad was indelibly bound up with black freedom at home. Yet he understood that economic change must accompany such political advances. Thus he called for communism’s actualization by putting into practice his stepfather’s devotion to economic equality, pursuit of truth through disciplined intellectual labor, black pride energized to destroy that which seeks blackness’s elimination, and the practice of democracy’s fullest expression.50 What David understood and popularized in his 1982 essay, Cedric Robinson, Manning Marable, and Gerald Horne accomplished in scholarly monographs before decade’s end (and what Amy Bass, Eric Porter, Bill Mullen and other picked up in subsequent scholarship). This activist and intellectual convergence assisted mightily in establishing Du Bois’s radical legacy. At the very same time, David transformed his proposals into institutional practice through organizing in 1986 the W. E. B. Du Bois Foundation.51
The W. E. B. Du Bois Foundation fulfilled part of his mother’s vision to disseminate W. E. B.’s teachings across the world, while David also viewed it as the protector and propeller for Du Bois’s radical legacy as a global citizen whose intellectual and cultural labor wholeheartedly supported the liberation of African-descended people. In essence, David wanted to put into practice the philosophy of Du Bois’s late career radicalism that he (David) had outlined in The Black Scholar and Race & Class. “As guardian of the Du Bois Legacy,” he maintained that the Foundation possessed “the responsibility to intensify its efforts toward the preservation of that Legacy, the widest possible promotion of that [L]egacy, and a heightened protection of that Legacy against its misuse, its distortion or its co-option for personal gain, because the Du Bois Legacy contains valuable guidelines for dealing with today’s America and the world.”52
Headquartered in Amherst, Massachusetts, where David eventually obtained a teaching position at UMass, the Foundation had a global reach, including through a field office in Ghana. Its goals: to translate and disseminate the works of Du Bois; and support scholars working on Du Bois and/or broad topics in black history at the primary, secondary, undergraduate, and graduate levels, including research fellowships. In addition, David proposed regional Foundation affiliates across the U. S. to work towards these ends. The Foundation also pledged to support artists who reflected on Du Bois’s work and legacy aesthetically, including architectural plans for the burial site in Ghana. It had a legal component, a defense committee devoted to human rights initiatives. Plans involved joint meetings between African and African American scholars to bring Du Bois’s thought to bear on current problem and possibilities.53
In these grand plans resided the combined visions of Shirley and David for putting into practice W. E. B.’s legacy in the United States and across the world. However, time, resources, and world events dictated what projects the Foundation focused its attention on during the 1990s and early 2000s before David’s death in 2005. Its work consisted mostly in supporting students with historical knowledge, economic literacy, and cultural pride, while promoting the memory of Du Bois’s radical legacy as widely as possible.
One of the most important of the Foundation’s activities was a Carnegie Hall commemorative event in May 1993. Designed with the 1968 Carnegie Hall ceremony in mind, the occasion of Du Bois’s 125th birthday marked a critical moment in domestic and global politics. “The time, for black people here in the U.S.A. and on the continent of Africa, cry out for a unique, irresistible, singular demonstration of militant commitment, unity, affirmation and defiance,” wrote David in a 1992 memorandum.54
Some individuals who participated in or sponsored the 1964 and 1968 meetings returned to celebrate Du Bois’s 125th birthday including Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, Pete Seeger, James Jackson, Esther Cooper Jackson, Abbott Simon, Bernard Jaffe, and Odetta. Other black radical luminaries supported the 1993 Du Bois commemoration: John Henrik Clarke, Jan Carew, Howard “Stretch” Johnson, Dorothy Hunton, Elizabeth Catlett, and Queen Mother Audley Moore. David’s opening comments set the tone for the tribute and disclosed how he envisioned his role in supporting Du Bois’s radical memory: “We are here to remove the cloud that hangs over W. E. B. DuBois, shrouding the light that is his legacy.” Like previous events, the evening included art and music. Odetta performed “This Little Light of Mine” and Pete Seeger sang “Turn, Turn, Turn.” Roscoe Lee Brown performed Du Bois’s “On Being Crazy” and Sonia Sanchez and Vinie Burrows read poetry. Sanchez sounded Du Bois’s radical heritage by reciting a line, “If you want to celebrate the legacy of DuBois, then organize, organize!” Numerous speakers commented on education, the eradication of racism, and peace, including college presidents Johnetta Cole and Niara Sudarska along with NAACP President Benjamin Chavis. Bill Cosby, who had supported Du Bois cultural events and productions for some years, conducted a stand-up comedy routine. Local press covered the commemoration extensively writing that it “was broadly conceived and magisterially presented.” Reporters commented that David’s “rich background” as a professor, journalist, and writer “enables him to confidently perform his duties as Keeper of the DuBois legacy.”55
While the Foundation struggled with fundraising for the 1993 event (the program ran a $41,000 deficit), and internal conflicts meant that local planning arrangements did not always run smoothly, David described in a President’s report that the meeting’s cultural impact was “tremendous.” For example, smaller commemorative programs spooled out of the event, including further dissemination of Du Bois’s works and a planned panel of Du Bois biographers at the Schomburg Center in New York City that included Gerald Horne, David Levering Lewis, Arnold Rampersad, and Manning Marable.56
As part of the Foundation’s educational endeavors and an attempt to tap the momentum of the 1993 Carnegie Hall meeting, that same year David proposed the “Touch Africa Program.” A study-abroad initiative, Touch Africa, included classroom learning about African history along with face-to-face learning on the continent itself. It sought to institute the “internationalist humanist philosophy embodied in the writings and actions of W. E. B. Du Bois” through a broad commitment to economic democracy and political equality. “A knowledge of and pride in ancestral roots is essential to self knowledge, self esteem, self respect and self acceptance—the universal tools required for a healthy, productive social existence” drove the program’s aims for high school students.57 Four years later in 1997 David retooled and re-launched the program as “The W. E. B. Du Bois Institute Without Walls.” Directed at achieving cultural pride, the Institute crafted curriculum specifically for high school students that canvassed African history and African American history. He advocated for a study abroad component in Africa housed at the W. E. B. Du Bois Centre for Pan-African Culture in Ghana and envisioned an alumnus program in which Institute graduates would come back to serve in the Foundation.58
If David’s proposal for high school students included a global dimension, his support for scholarly initiatives also reflected an international perspective. To commemorate the 125th anniversary of Du Bois’s birth, the Chinese government opened a China Du Bois Study Center in 1995. The Du Bois Foundation supported these efforts and worked for international scholarly exchanges. “My discussions in China,” David recalled about his Beijing trip, “were guided by my belief that there is a very much needed contribution Chinese research and scholarship on Africa and the African diaspora can make to world knowledge which is in direct line with the Du Bois legacy.” At the Center’s opening ceremonies, Huang Hua, the China Society for People’s Friendship Studies President reflected on his own memories of Du Bois in Ghana and the significance of Afro-Asian relations. “Throughout his distinguished career, Dr. Du Bois not only fought valiantly for the freedom and liberation of Blacks in America and Africa,” Hua stated, “but worked with dedication to promote understanding and friendship between the American and Chinese people and between the African and Chinese peoples, and to the cause of human justice, peace and progress.” On the vision for scholarly and cultural work ahead, Hua pledged support for cultural exchanges and translations of Du Bois’s writings in the hope that American, Chinese, and African peoples might “forge closer ties and promote greater mutual support between them.”59
The making of W. E. B. Du Bois’s radical legacy started well before he died and continues to the present historical moment. The ongoing grotesque displays of white supremacy that emanate from the White House or express themselves in the form of everyday microagressions remind us that the very system in Du Bois’s intellectual and activist crosshairs requires a re-reading and re-animation of his ideas in contemporary times.
This article conveys that the way forward starts with a historical path of knowledge and understanding. Shirley’s archival and preservationist efforts along with David’s ideological and institutional endeavors responded to the anti-radical repression of Du Bois that followed him into his life after death. Their work is important to understanding how Du Bois’s legacy was made, and how and why it changed over time. Similarly, this article explains how in reply to white supremacy’s wiliness and ability to reinvent itself, black radicals worked assiduously to reframe and remake Du Bois’s legacy to speak to shifts and adjustments in world political conditions. Thus, in our present moment of commemorating the sesquicentennial of Du Bois’s birth, we reflect on several realities: his activist-intellectual thought mattered in the past, and it matters today. It is up to us all to make sure that it matters in the future.
1I presented an early version of this essay in March 2018 at the annual meeting of the African American Intellectual History Society held at Brandeis University. Thanks to my co-panelists Whitney Battle-Baptiste, Edward Carson, Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, and Lavelle Porter for probing comments and enlightening questions as well as the audience for an altogether productive discussion. Also, thanks to a UMass W. E. B. Du Bois Visiting Scholar Fellowship, in the summer of 2018 I conducted additional archival research that facilitated the completion of this article. For archival assistance at UMass, I thank Rob Cox, Danielle Kovacs, Aaron Rubinstein, and Paul Fowler. I appreciate the efforts of Bettina Aptheker, Charisse Burden-Stelly, Gerald Horne, and Edward Carson for feedback on an earlier draft of this article, and especially discussions with Charisse about key archival items in the Shirley Graham Du Bois Papers.
The epigraph comes from Imani Perry, Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry (Boston: Beacon, 2018), 137.
L. O. Golden, M. I. Kotov, and G. B. Starushenko, eds., William Du Bois: Scholar, Humanitarian, Freedom Fighter (Moscow: Novosti Press, 1971), 5.
2I adapt portions of the paragraphs that address these subjects from “‘A Legacy of Scholarship and Struggle’: W. E. B. Du Bois’s Life After Death,” in Phillip Luke Sinitiere, ed., Citizen of the World: The Late Career and Legacy of W. E. B. Du Bois (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2019).
3 Bettina Aptheker, Intimate Politics: How I Grew Up Red, Fought for Free Speech, and Became a Feminist Rebel (Emeryville, CA: Seal Press, 2006), 93-94.
4 “The W. E. B. DuBois Clubs of America,” Box 42, Folder 1, Communist Party of the United States of America Records, Tamiment Library, New York University (hereafter CPUSA Records).
5 Bettina Aptheker, Robert Kaufman, and Michael Folsom, “Free Speech Movement” (San Francisco: W. E. B. DuBois Clubs of America, 1965), Box 123, Folder 6, John Oliver Killens Papers, Emory University.
6 Jarvis Tyner, “Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois,” Insurgent, January-March 1968, 25-26, Box 56, Folder 48, Billy James Hargis Papers, University of Arkansas.
7 Douglas Robinson, “Du Bois ‘Duplicity’ Decried by Nixon,” New York Times, March 9, 1966, http://www.nytimes.com/books/00/11/05/specials/dubois-nixon.html; cf. W. E. B. Du Bois, ed. William M. Tuttle, Jr. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1973), 1-2; On the Hoover-Nixon Boys Club connection, see Richard M. Nixon, “Remarks at a Dinner for the Board of Directors of the Boys’ Clubs of America,” December 1, 1969, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=2348.
8 “Souvenir Program in Memory of Dr. William E. Burghardt Du Bois, February 23, 1964,” W. E. B. Du Bois Papers Digital Archive (Identifier mums312-b156-i191).
9 John Hope Franklin, “William Edward Burghart DuBois,” Box 112, Folder 96, CPUSA Records; cf. John Hope Franklin, “W. E. B. Du Bois: A Personal Memoir,” The Massachusetts Review 31/3 (Autumn 1990): 409-428.
10 Lorraine Hansberry, “Remarks by Lorraine Hansberry at the Memorial Meeting for W. E. B. Du Bois,” Box 56, Folder 21, Lorraine Hansberry Papers, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library (hereafter LH Papers).
11 Eslanda Robeson, “Tribute to Dr. W. E. B. DuBois,” Box 1, Folder 31, Abbott Simon Papers, Tamiment Library, New York University.
12 Amy Bass, Those About Him Remained Silent: The Fight Over W. E. B. Du Bois (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009). In her illuminating study, Bass also notes that uneasiness enveloped western Massachusetts well into the twenty-first century when controversy erupted in 2004 over naming an elementary school in Du Bois’s honor. For more on the FBI, see “FBI dropped plan to black Du Bois memorial,” Springfield Morning Union, December 3, 1976, Box 264, Folder 38, W. E. B. Du Bois Papers, University of Massachusetts Amherst (hereafter WEBD Papers). For an updated analysis of Great Barrington in the context of the 150th anniversary of Du Bois’s birth, which includes commentary on new Du Bois murals about his life and legacy fashioned by youth artists, see Whitney Battle-Baptiste, “Bringing Du Bois Home Again,” Black Perspectives, February 23, 2018, https://www.aaihs.org/bringing-w-e-b-du-bois-home-again/. Not long after the mural dedications in early 2018, channeling the anti-black, anticommunist legacy about which Bass writes, local veterans protested furiously about a proposed Du Bois state in front of the local library in Great Barrington. On the Du Bois statue, see Terry Cowgill, “Veterans protest statue to memorialize ‘communist’ Du Bois,” The Berkshire Edge, June 15, 2018, https://theberkshireedge.com/war-veterans-protest-statue-to-memorialize-....
13 For ease of reading, and for clarity’s sake, throughout the article I will often refer to first names since Shirley, W. E. B., and David shared the same last name.
14St. Clair Drake, “Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois: A Life Lived Experimentally and Self-Documented,” Contributions in Black Studies: A Journal of African and Afro-American Studies, Vol. 8, Article 10 (1986): 113-114, https://scholarworks.umass.edu/cibs/vol8/iss1/10/?utm_source=scholarwork....
15 Herbert Aptheker wrote about Du Bois’s life long archival habits in the “Introduction” to the first of three volumes of Du Bois’s correspondence he edited. See The Correspondence of W. E. B. Du Bois, Volume I: Selections 1877-1934, ed. Herbert Aptheker (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1973), xxiii. I’m grateful to Bettina Aptheker for reminding me of this reference.
16 See Phillip Luke Sinitiere, “The Black Futures of W. E. B. Du Bois,” in Philip Reed-Butler, ed. Critical Black Futures (forthcoming) and Nahum Dimitri Chandler, “Introduction. Toward a New History of the Centuries: On the Early Writings of W. E. B. Du Bois,” in W. E. B. Du Bois: The Problem of the Color Line at the Turn of the Twentieth Century: The Essential Early Essays, ed. Nahum Dimitri Chandler (New York: Fordham University Press, 2015), 1-32.
17 Stephen Shames and Bobby Seale, Power to the People: The World of the Black Panthers (New York: Abrams, 2016), 204. In interviews, Bobby Seale has commented on Du Bois’s influences on the Black Panther Party’s political formation. I heard Seale discuss this in person during his opening remarks at a 2014 Black Panther Party anniversary dinner I attended in Houston, an event for which historian Gerald Horne delivered the keynote lecture, “Audacity Personified: The Black Panther Party Reconsidered.” On the connection between Du Bois and Black Studies, see the March 2012 issue of the Journal of African American Studies devoted to “Expanding the History of the Black Studies Movement”; Nagueyalti Warren, W. E. B. Du Bois: Grandfather of Black Studies (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2011); James B. Stewart, “The Legacy of W. E. B. Du Bois for Contemporary Black Studies,” The Journal of Negro Education 53/3 (Summer 1984): 296-311; and James Turner and C. Steven McGann, “Black Studies as an Integral Tradition in African-American Intellectual History,” Issue: A Journal of Opinion 6/2-3 (Summer/Autumn 1976): 73-78. See also the 1966 issue of the Journal of Human Relations devoted to W. E. B. Du Bois, as well as Volume 1 of The Black Scholar in 1970.
18An ABC of Color (New York: International Publishers, 1963); W. E. B. Du Bois: A Reader, ed. Meyer Weinburg (New York: Cotler, 1970); Selected Writings of W. E. B. Du Bois, ed. Walter Wilson (New York: Mentor, 1970); W. E. B. Du Bois Speaks: Speeches and Addresses, 1891-1919, ed. Philip S. Foner (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1970); W. E. B. Du Bois Speaks: Speeches and Addresses, 1920-1963, ed. Philip S. Foner (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1971); A W. E. B. Du Bois Reader, ed. Andrew G. Paschal (New York: Macmillan, 1971); Seventh Son: The Thought and Writings of W. E. B. Du Bois, 2 vols, ed. Julius Lester (New York: Random House, 1971); W. E. B. Du Bois: The Crisis Writings, ed. Daniel Walden (Greenwich, CT: Fawcett, 1972); Emerging Thought of W. E. B. Du Bois: Essays and Editorials from The Crisis, ed. Henry Lee Moon (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1972); W. E. B. Du Bois, ed. William M. Tuttle, Jr. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1973); The Education of Black People: Ten Critiques, 1906-1960, New Edition, ed. Herbert Aptheker (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2001 ).
19 Vincent Harding, “Introduction,” in Lerone Bennett, The Challenge of Blackness, Black Paper No. 1 (Atlanta: Institute of the Black World, 1970), iii, Box 41, Printed Ephemera Collection on Organizations, Tamiment Library, New York University; cf. Manning Marable, W. E. B. Du Bois: Black Radical Democrat (Boulder, CO: Paradigm Press, 2005), xv-xvi; Manning Marable, Living Black History: How Reimagining the African-American Past Can Remake America’s Racial Future (New York: Basic, 2006), 98-119; Derrick E. White, The Challenge of Blackness: The Institute of the Black World and Political Activism in the 1970s (Tallahassee: University Press of Florida, 2011).
20 Dube’s UN testimony appears in John Henrik Clarke, ed., Pan-Africanism and the Liberation of Southern Africa: International Tribute to William E. B. DuBois (New York: United Nations Centre against Apartheid, 1978), 49-50, John Henrik Clarke Africana Collection, Clark Atlanta University (hereafter JHC Africana Collection).
21 Erik S. McDuffie, Sojourning for Freedom: Black Women, American Communism, and the Making of Black Left Feminism (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011).
22 Esther Cooper Jackson, Pan-Africanism and the Liberation of Southern Africa, 62-64.
23 Monteiro, Pan-Africanism and the Liberation of Southern Africa, 56-57; Tony Monteiro, “The Scientific & Revolutionary Legacy of W. E. B. Du Bois,” April 21, 1994 UMass Amherst lecture flyer, Box 290, Folder 20, WEBD Papers. Monteiro’s subsequent scholarship built upon these earlier observations in which he advocated for an Africana-centered consideration of Du Bois’s intellectual and political work. I thank Josh Myers and Ife Flannery for helpful discussions about Monteiro’s work. See Anthony Monteiro, “Being an African in the World: The Du Boisian Epistemology,” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 568 (March 2000): 220-234; Anthony Monteiro, “Race and the Racialized State: A Du Boisian Interrogation,” Socialism and Democracy 17 (2003): 77-97; Anthony Monteiro, “Race and Empire: W. E. B. Du Bois and the US State,” The Black Scholar 37/2 (Summer 2007): 35-52; Anthony Monteiro, “W. E. B. Du Bois and the Study of Black Humanity,” Journal of Black Studies 38/4 (March 2008): 600-621; Anthony Monteiro, “The Epistemic Crisis of African American Studies: A Du Boisian Resolution,” Socialism and Democracy 25/1 (March 2011): 192-210.
24 James E. Jackson, “W. E. B. Du Bois: Light for the Path,” Political Affairs, July 1989, 2-6, James E. Jackson Writings, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library.
25 Gerald Horne, “Reclaiming the Reclaiming the Revolutionary Life of W. E. B. Du Bois,” People’s Weekly World, February 12, 1994, 12-13 and Tony Monteiro, “W. E. B. Du Bois: the ‘logic of life’ leads to socialism,” People’s Weekly World, February 19, 1994, 12-13, Box 112, Folder 96, CPUSA Records.
26Gerald Horne, Race Woman: The Lives of Shirley Graham Du Bois (New York: New York University Press, 2000), 128.
27 David Levering Lewis, W. E. B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century, 1919-1963 (New York: Henry Holt, 2000), 496-571; Gerald Horne and Margaret Stevens, “Shirley Graham Du Bois: Portrait of the Black Woman Artist as a Revolutionary,” in Want to Start a Revolution?: Radical Women in the Black Freedom Struggle, eds. Dayo F. Gore, Jeanne Theoharis, and Komozi Woodard (New York: New York University Press, 2007), 95-114; Alesia E. McFadden, “The Artistry and Activism of Shirley Graham Du Bois: A Twentieth Century African American Torchbearer (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2009); Dayo F. Gore, Radicalism at the Crossroads: African American Women Activists in the Cold War (New York: New York University Press, 2011), 133-136, 144-150, 156-159; Bettina Aptheker, “The Passion and Pagaentry of Shirley Graham’s Opera Tom Tom,” SOULS 18 (2016): 263-270; cf. Aptheker, Intimate Politics, 80-82 and Aptheker, “W. E. B. Du Bois and Shirley Graham Du Bois: Personal Memories and Political Reflections,” in Citizen of the World; Vaughn Rasberry, Race and the Totalitarian Century: Geopolitics in the Black Literary Imagination (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2015), 237-304; Robeson Taj Frazier, The East is Black: Cold War China in the Black Radical Imagination (Durham: Duke University Press, 2014), 37-71; Yunxiang Gao, “W. E. B. Du Bois and Shirley Graham Du Bois in Maoist China,” Du Bois Review 10/1 (2013): 59-85; Phillip Luke Sinitiere, “Leadership for Democracy and Peace: W. E. B. Du Bois’s Legacy as a Pan-African Intellectual,” in Leadership in Colonial Africa: Disruption of Traditional Frameworks and Patterns, ed. Baba J. Jallow (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), 202-239; Charisse Burden-Stelly, “The Mutual Comradeship of W. E. B. Du Bois and Radical Black Women, 1935-1961,” in No Deed but Memory: Forging American Freedom in W. E. B. Du Bois’s Twilight Years, ed. Phillip Luke Sinitiere (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, under contract). On Shirley and placing Du Bois’s archive at UMass, and the anticommunist and black nationalist sentiment that produced opposition to it, see Gary Murrell, “The Most Dangerous Communist in the United States”: A Biography of Herbert Aptheker (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2015), 195-226; Du Bois Papers UMass Press Release, June 4, 1973; Gerald Fraser, “U. of Mass. Buys Mss. of DuBois,” New York Times, Tuesday, June 5, 1973; Harold 4X, “Black scholar’s papers go North to rest,” Muhammad Speaks, July 6, 1973, “Memorabilia,” The New Yorker, July 16, 1973, 22-24; “Reader’s Rap,” Jet XLIV/15, July 5, 1973, 4, Box 15, Folders 1-2, Shirley Graham Du Bois Papers, Schlesinger Library, Harvard University (hereafter SGD Papers); William L. Patterson, “Answering an Attack on Du Bois,” People’s World, September 22, 1973, Box 269, Folder 2, WEBD Papers. Harold 4X and Casper LeRoy Jordan, who’s letter to the editor in “Reader’s Rap” appeared in Jet, criticized Shirley for not placing Du Bois’s papers at an HBCU. William Patterson’s article, which is in Du Bois’s FBI file, defended her decision to sell the archive to UMass and reminded readers that Du Bois sent some of his papers to Fisk. While there was support for Du Bois on campus at UMass—from the University of Massachusetts Press, to Chancellor Randolph Bromery, to members of the W. E. B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies—local opinion was more divided, especially the American Legion’s vocal anticommunist condemnation. See “The DuBois papers,” Sun, June 7, 1973; “Legion Hits Purchase,” Worcester Telegram, July 17, 1973; “UMass Answers Legion About Du Bois Papers,” Greenfield (Mass.) Recorder, July 16, 1973; “Knee-jerk reaction,” Holyoke Daily Transcript, July 19, 1973; “Raps Legion Du Bois Stand,” The Springfield Union, July 19, 1973, Randolph Bromery Papers, University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst (hereafter RB Papers). On Bromery’s role in UMass’s acquisition of Du Bois’s archive, see part of his National Visionary Leadership Project oral history, “W. E. B. Du Bois Papers—Part 2,” http://www.visionaryproject.org/bromeryrandolph/ and a clip from his UMass oral history, “Interpreting the Legacy of W. E. B. Du Bois, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43aMQiG7q7E. On background discussion between Shirley’s lawyer Bernard Jaffee and UMass officials about acquiring Du Bois’s papers, see Bernard Jaffe to Shirley Graham Du Bois, December 7, 1971, Box 2, Folder 2, Bernard Jaffe Papers, University of Massachusetts Amherst (hereafter BJ Papers); Bernard Jaffe to Shirley Graham Du Bois, January 13, 1972; Leone Stein to Shirley Graham Du Bois, February 7, 1972; Shirley Graham Du Bois to Bernard Jaffe, July 10, 1972; Bernard Jaffe to Shirley Graham Du Bois, July 13, 1972, Box 2, Folder 3, BJ Papers; Shirley Graham Du Bois to Bernard Jaffe, March 3, 1973; Bernard Jaffe to Shirley Graham Du Bois, March 23, 1973; Shirley Graham Du Bois to Bernard Jaffe, April 3, 1973, Box 2, Folder 4, BJ Papers.
28 Shirley Graham Du Bois, “Greetings,” Freedomways (Winter 1965): 9, Box 57, Folder 19, LH Papers. Her comments later appeared as “Tributes,” in Black Titan W. E. B. Du Bois: An Anthology by the Editors of Freedomways, eds. John Henrik Clarke, Esther Jackson, Ernest Kaiser and J. H. O’Dell (Boston: Beacon, 1970), 5.
29 Horne, Race Woman, 140.
30 Shirley Graham Du Bois to Professor and Mrs. Frank W. Waymouth, March 31, 1953, Box 17, Folder 11, SGD Papers.
31 Shirley Graham Du Bois to Percy Julian, December 13, 1952, Box 17, Folder 9, SGD Papers.
32 Percy Julian to Shirley Graham Du Bois, January 29, 1953, Box 17, Folder 11, SGD Papers.
33 Shirley Graham Du Bois to Robert M. Hutchins, March 16, 1957, Box 11, Folder 20, SGD Papers.
34 Margaret Perry to Shirley Graham Du Bois, June 20, 1969; Bernard Jaffe to Shirley Graham Du Bois, June 20, 1969; Shirley Graham Du Bois to Bernard Jaffe, June 27, 1969, Box 1, Folder 24, BJ Papers; Michael L. Lomax to Bernard Jaffe, July 31, 1973; Shirley Graham Du Bois to Bernard Jaffe, October 1, 1973, Box 2, Folder 6, BJ Papers.
35 Shirley Graham Du Bois to Robert M. Hutchins.
36 Bernard Jaffe to Shirley Graham Du Bois, November 7, 1963, Box 1 Folder 3, BJ Papers.
37 Kwame Nkrumah, “Foreword,” in Shirley Graham Du Bois, ed., Selected Poems by W. E. B. Du Bois (Accra: Ghana Universities Press, 1964), 5, JHC Africana Collection.
38 Shirley Graham Du Bois, “Introduction,” in Selected Poems by W. E. B. Du Bois.
39 The paragraphs on Shirley Graham Du Bois’s books below draw from portions in Sinitiere, “Leadership for Democracy and Peace.”
40 Shirley Graham Du Bois, His Day is Marching On: A Memoir of W. E. B. Du Bois (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1971), 212-213, 304-311, 363.
41 “Interview with Mrs. W. E. B. Du Bois,” Martin Luther King Speaks Today, February 8, 1971, Box 606, Folder 11, Southern Christian Leadership Conference Records, Emory University.
42 Shirley Graham Du Bois, “On the Occasion of Presenting to the African Society of Egypt the Collected Works of W. E. B. Du Bois,” September 23, 1974, Box 28, Folder 4, SGD Papers.
43 Shirley Graham Du Bois, “W. E. B. Du Bois: The Father of Pan-Africanism,” April 7, 1975, Vanderbilt University, Box 28, Folder 8, SGD Papers. On Shirley’s visit to Vanderbilt, see A. Muhammad to Shirley G. Du Bois, January 24, 1975, RB Papers.
44 Shirley Graham Du Bois, Du Bois: A Pictorial Biography (Chicago: Johnson Publishing Company, 1978), ix-xii, 136-167.
45 Gore, Radicalism at the Crossroads, 161-165.
46Keith P. Feldman, “Towards an Afro Arab Diasporic Culture: The Translational Practices of David Graham Du Bois,” Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics 31 (2011): 152-172; Alex Lubin, Geographies of Liberation: The Making of an Afro-Arab Political Imaginary (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014), 6, 111-112, 128; Horne, Race Woman.
47Daniel Carroll and David Du Bois, “Interview with David Du Bois,” Issues in Criminology 9/2 (Fall 1974): 21-41.
48 On David taking the Du Bois surname, see his oral history, “My Mother’s Marriage to W. E. B. Du Bois,” National Visionary Leadership Project Oral History Archive, http://www.visionaryproject.org/duboisdavid/.
49 David Graham Du Bois, “The DuBois Legacy Under Attack,” The Black Scholar 9/5 (January/February 1978): 2-12. Portions of this paragraph revise a small section in Sinitiere, “Leadership for Democracy and Peace.”
50David Graham Du Bois, “W. E. B. Du Bois: The Last Years,” Race & Class 24/2 (1982): 178-184.
51 W. E. B. Du Bois Foundation Fundraising Letter, September 18, 1992, Box 37, Folder 10, Gerald Horne Papers, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library (hereafter GH Papers); David Graham Du Bois to H. E. Esi Sutherland-Addy, April 24, 1986, Box 7, Folder 1, W. E. B. Du Bois Foundation Materials, W. E. B. Du Bois Department of African American Studies Collection, University of Massachusetts Amherst (hereafter WEBD Department Collection).
52 W. E. B. Du Bois Foundation President’s Report, January 1998, Box 121, Folder 1, GH Papers.
53 David G. Du Bois, “Toward the Creation of a W. E. B. Du Bois Foundation,” Box 3, Folder 13, BJ Papers.
54 David Graham Du Bois to Gerald Horne, W. E. B. Du Bois Foundation Memorandum, July 20, 1992, Box 37, Folder 9, GH Papers.
55 On local press coverage of the 1993 tribute see, Maitefa Angaza, “Du Bois Foundation Gala Fills Heart, Minds and Spirits,” The City Sun, October 20-26, 1993, and James G. Spady, “125th Anniversary Tribute to W. E. B. DuBois,” Philadelphia New Observer, October 13, 1993, Box 7, Folder 1, W. E. B. Du Bois Foundation Materials, WEBD Department Collection. Morris U. Schappes, “Du Bois’ 125th Anniversary Tribute,” Jewish Currents 48/1 (January 1994): 21; Herb Boyd, “Du Bois Tribute Recalled a Multitalented Leader,” The New York Amsterdam News, October 9, 1993; Herb Boyd, “Celebrating Du Bois’ 125th: Filling Carnegie Hall with Art, Artistry, and Nostalgia,” The Crisis, November/December 1993, David Graham Du Bois Papers, University of Massachusetts Amherst (hereafter DGD Papers). On Cosby’s support of Du Bois, see Amiri Baraka, “W. E. B. DuBois Movie,” Subseries III, Box 28, Folders 8-9, Amiri Baraka Papers, Columbia University.
56 Presidents Report on Carnegie Hall Event, Box 21, Folder 1, GH Papers.
57 Minutes Combined Executive and Advisory Board Meeting, Dec 4/5, 1993, Chicago, IL, Box 119, Folder 5, GH Papers.
58 David G. Du Bois, “W. E. B. Du Bois Institute Without Walls,” Box 4, Folder 15, BJ Papers; “The W. E. B. Du Bois Institute Without Walls II,” Box 7, Folder 1, W. E. B. Du Bois Foundation Materials, WEBD Department Collection.
59 I appreciate Yunxiang Gao’s suggestion to explore this facet of Du Bois’s legacy in China. On the China Du Bois Study Center see David Graham Du Bois, “Meeting of the Minds,” Al-Ahram Weekly, July 20-26, 1995 and Huang Hua, “Speech at Meeting in Tribute to Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois on His 125th Birthday,” October 12, 1995, DGD Papers.