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From The Autobiography of W.E.B. DuBois (New York: International Publishers, Inc. 1968), pp. 254–276

The NAACP started with a lynching 100 years after the birth of Abraham Lincoln, and in the city, Springfield, Illinois, which was his long time residence. William English Walling, a white Southerner, dramatized the gruesome happening and a group of liberals formed a committee in New York, which I was invited to join. A conference was held in 1909.

This conference contained four groups: scientists who knew the race problem; philanthropists willing to help worthy causes; social workers ready to take up a new task of Abolition; and Negroes ready to join a new crusade for their emancipation. An impressive number of scientists and social workers attended; friends of wealthy philanthropists were present and many Negroes but few followers of Booker Washington. In the end Trotter, the most radical Negro leader, and Mrs. Ida Wells Barnett who was leading an anti-lynching crusade, refused to join the new organization, being distrustful of white leadership. I myself and most of the Niagara Movement group were willing to join. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was formed, which without formal merger absorbed practically the whole membership of the Niagara Movement. With some hesitation I was asked to join the organization as Director of Publications and Research. My research work was to go on but my activities would be so held in check that the Association would not develop as a center of attack upon Tuskegee.

Here was an opportunity to enter the lists in a desperate fight aimed straight at the real difficulty: the question as to how far educated Negro opinion in the United States was going to have the right and opportunity to guide the Negro group. Back of this lay an unasked question as to the relation of the American Negro group to the whole labor movement. This was not yet raised but several of the group were Socialists, including myself.

One may consider the personal equations and clash of ideologies possible here as a matter of the actions and thoughts of certain men, or as a development of larger social forces beyond personal control. I suppose the latter aspect is the truer. My thoughts, the thoughts of Washington, Trotter and Oswald Garrison Villard were the expression of social forces more than of our own minds.

These forces or ideologies embraced more than reasoned acts. They included physical, biological and psychological habits, conventions and enactments. Opposed to these came natural reaction; the physical recoil of the victims, the unconscious and irrational urges, as well as reasoned complaints and acts. The total result was the history of our day. That history may be epitomized in one word--Empire; the domination of white Europe over black Africa and yellow Asia, through political power built on the economic control of labor, income and ideas. The echo of this industrial imperialism in America was the expulsion of black men from American democracy, their subjection to caste control and wage slavery. This ideology was triumphant in 1910.

I accepted the offer of the NAACP in 1910 to join their new organization in New York as Director of Publications and Research.

My new title showed that I had modified my program of research, but by no means abandoned it. First, I directed and edited my Atlanta study of 1912, in absentia with the help of my colleague, Augustus Dill, my student and successor as teacher in Atlanta. Then in our study of 1913, I secured the promise of Dr. J. H. Dillard, of the Slater Board, to join Atlanta University in keeping up the work of the conferences. The work of research was to be carried on in New York, with a conference and annual publication at Atlanta. I was jubilant at the projected survival of my work. But on advice of President Ware himself, this arrangement was not accepted by the trustees of Atlanta University. Ware was probably warned that his tie with a radical movement would hamper the university.

In August 1910, I reported at my new office and new work at 20 Vesey Street, New York. As I have said elsewhere, the NAACP "proved between 1910 and the first World War, one of the most effective organizations of the liberal spirit and the fight for social progress which America has known." It fought frankly to make Negroes "politically free from disfranchisement, legally free from caste and socially free from insult."

This new field of endeavor represented a distinct break from my previous purely scientific program. While "research" was still among my duties, there were in fact no funds for such work. My chief efforts were devoted to editing and publishing The Crisis, which I founded on my own responsibility, and over the protest of many of my associates. With The Crisis, I essayed a new role of interpreting to the world the hindrances and aspirations of American Negroes. My older program appeared only as I supported my contentions with facts from current reports and observation or historic reference. My writing was reinforced by lecturing, and my knowledge increased by travel; my thought was broadened by study of socialism.

We had on our board of directors many incongruous elements as was to be expected: philanthropists like Oswald Villard; social workers like Florence Kelley; liberal Christians like John Haynes Holmes and liberal Jews like the Spingarns; spiritual descendants of the Abolitionists like Mary Ovington and radical Negroes. Clashes now and then were inevitable.

To a white philanthropist like Villard, a Negro was quite naturally expected to be humble and thankful or certainly not assertive and aggressive; this Villard resented. I knew Villard's mother, who was Garrison's favorite child, and I liked her very much. His uncles were cordial and sympathetic. There was much that I liked in Villard himself, but one thing despite all my effort kept us far apart. He had married a wife from Georgia, a former slave State, and consequently I could never step foot in his house as a guest, nor could any other of his colored associates. Indeed I doubt if any of his Jewish co-workers were ever invited. I knew the reasons for this discrimination, but I could hardly be expected to be happy over them or to be his close friend.

My first rather bitter falling out with Villard was at a meeting of the Board of Directors. Villard presumed to tell me how to edit The Crisis, and suggested that with my monthly record of lynchings, I also publish a list of Negro crimes. I resented this, not only because it was logically silly, but because it was interfering with my business. It was for this reason and from similar clashes that he finally resigned the chairmanship of the board and was replaced by Joel Spingarn. Villard, however, kept his membership on the board and his interest in our work. Social workers like Florence Kelley criticized my status: I held the rather anomalous position of being both a member of the board and, as executive officer, the board's employee. This was not from any demand which I made, but was due to the inescapable fact that I knew the Negro problem better than any of the white members of the board, and at the same time I was the one colored man whom they could put their hands on to carry out the objects of the organization. My double capacity was repeatedly a matter of discussion, and sometimes dispute; but no answer was forthcoming for 24 years.

Few of us realized what an organization of this sort had to be and what changes of form it had to go through. In early years it was a conference of men and women seeking agreement for common action, and finally carrying out the work decided upon by means of a committee of one or more. It was this form that the NAACP had in mind when it was organized in 1909. It needed money, and that Villard and some of the other members of the committee proposed to raise from their wealthy friends, or from well-known philanthropists. It became increasingly necessary for the organization to have a paid executive whose chief business was to raise money.

When I was called to join the group it was expected that I would become that executive, but that was just what I refused to do, because I knew that raising money was not a job for which I was fitted. It called for a friendliness of approach and knowledge of human nature, and an adaptability which I did not have. What I had was knowledge of the Negro problem, an ability to express my thoughts clearly, and a logical method of thought. I wanted then to write and lecture; and this become my job. We needed, however, an executive secretary, and after relying a few years on untrained services, we hired a white trained social worker at $5,000 a year. It seemed to many of us a huge sum and an impossible effort, but it worked out under three secretaries; the first white, the other two colored. [12]

It was carried on in accordance with growing experiences among philanthropic organizations. The secretaries trained to raise money used approved and tried methods and expected and received cooperation from a Board of Directors whom they helped to select because of their money and their advertising value. This meant that the secretary had to have power put in his hands and the more money he raised for the objects of the organization, the more power he got. If he knew his job and had a broad conception of the purposes of his organization, things would go well. If he became more interested in money and power, and less clear as to ideal, the organization might not go as well. Changes due to these facts have occurred in the NAACP during its long and successful career.

The span of my life from 1910 to 1934 is chiefly the story of The Crisis under my editorship, but it had also an astonishing variety of subsidiary interests and activities.

Beginning a little before this period I continued my visits to Europe. I went in 1900 to the Paris Exposition and again by the grace of an English friend in 1906. I helped organize and took part in the great Races Congress in 1911 and went to France in December 1918, just after the Armistice. This close touch with Europe and European developments had much to do with my understanding of social problems and trends of the world. I followed the development of English imperialism and the forces in England, France, Italy and Germany which resulted in the Balkan War, the World War and eventually the Russian Revolution. In the United States I studied the political development from the free silver controversy led by Bryan through the administrations of Theodore Roosevelt and Taft, and especially the "Bull Moose" campaign and the election of Wilson.

I kept on writing and publishing not with as much concentration of effort as I ought to have had, but with some effectiveness. In 1907 appeared The Negro in the South--- from lectures, two by myself and two by Mr. Washington. In 1909 I published John Brown, one of the best written of my books, but one which aroused the unfortunate jealousy of Villard who was also writing a biography of Brown. In 1915 I published my volume on The Negro. To this must be added part of a bulletin in the Twelfth Census of the United States and several magazine articles.

I still clung to my idea of investigation in lines which would temper and guide my exposition of a racial philosophy; and for that reason I determined from the beginning to make my work with the Association not that of executive secretary but editor of its official organ. There was opposition to this organ from the first. First of all, organs of this sort were known to be usually costly and this organization had no money. Secondly, organs were of doubtful efficiency. My good friend, Albert E. Pillsbury, Attorney-General of Massachusetts, wrote feelingly: "If you have not decided upon a periodical, for heaven's sake don't. They are as numerous as flies"--and he meant to conclude about as useful. I came to New York to occupy a bare office; associated with a treasurer, Villard (who said frankly, "I don't know who is going to pay your salary. I have no money"), and with a generally critical if not hostile public which expected the NAACP to launch a bitter attack upon Booker T. Washington and Tuskegee.

My first job was to get The Crisis going; and arriving in August, I got the first copy off the press in November 1910. It came at the psychological moment and its success was phenomenal. From the 1,000 which I first ventured to publish, it went up a thousand a month until by 1918 (due, of course, to special circumstances), we published and sold over 100,000 copies.

With this organ of propaganda and defense we were able to organize one of the most effective assaults of liberalism upon reaction that the modern world has seen. The NAACP secured extraordinary helpers; great lawyers like Moorfield Storey and Louis Marshall; earnest liberals like Villard, John Milholland, John Haynes Holmes, Jane Addams, and the Spingarns; Socialists like Mary W. Ovington, Charles Edward Russell and William English Walling.

We gained a series of court victories before the highest courts of the land which perhaps never have been equaled, beginning with the recognition of the validity of the 15th Amendment and the overthrow of the vicious Grandfather Clauses in 1915; and the breaking of the legal backbone of housing segregation in 1917. Above all, we could, through The Crisis and our officers, our secretaries and friends, place consistently and continuously before the country a clear-cut statement of the legitimate aims of the American Negro and the facts concerning his condition. We tried to organize his political power and make it felt, and we started a campaign against lynching and mob law which was the most effective ever organized, and at long last seemed to bring the end of the evil in sight.

With these efforts came other activities. I lectured widely in nearly every state in the Union. I furnished information to people everywhere on all sorts of subjects closely and remotely connected with race problems, and carried on from time to time studies and investigations. I was held more responsible for the success of the NAACP than I cared to confess to myself, than most other people wanted to admit. I had to spread myself over a whole field of activities when I would have done great deal better work if I could have confined myself to writing and study.

The development of The Crisis, where most of my writing was done, was interesting and difficult. It was impaired first and last by lack of trained business management. For the most part I was my own business manager which meant the loss of much time in details. Then there was the delicate matter of policy; of how far I should express my own ideas and reactions in The Crisis or the studied judgment of the organization. From first to last I thought strongly, and as I still think rightly, to make the opinion expressed in The Crisis a personal opinion; because as I argued, no organization can express definite and clear-cut opinions; so far as this organization comes to conclusions it states them in its annual resolutions; but The Crisis states openly the opinion of its editor so long as that opinion is in general agreement with that of the organization.

This of course was a dangerous and delicate matter bound eventually to break down in case there was any considerable divergence of opinion between the organization and the editor. It was perhaps rather unusual that for two decades the two lines of thinking ran so largely together. If on the other hand The Crisis had not been in a sense a personal organ and the expression of myself, it could not possibly have attained its popularity and effectiveness. It would have been the dry kind of organ that so many societies support for purposes of reference and not for reading. It took on the part of the organization, a great deal of patience and faith to allow me the latitude that they did for so many years; and on the other hand I was enabled to lay down for the NAACP a clear, strong and distinct body of doctrine that could not have been stated by majority vote. It was probably inevitable that in the end a distinct and clear-cut difference of opinion on majority policies should lead to the dissolution of this interesting partnership.

One of the first difficulties that the Association met was the case of its attitude toward Mr. Washington. I carefully tried to avoid any exaggeration of our differences of thought; but to discuss the Negro question in 1910 was to discuss Booker T. Washington and almost before we were conscious of the inevitable trends we were challenged from Europe. Mr. Washington was in Europe in 1910 and made some speeches in England in his usual conciliatory lines. John Milholland, who had been so influential in the organization of the Association with paid employees and an office, wrote me that American Negroes must combat the idea that they were satisfied with conditions. I therefore wrote an appeal to England and Europe.

"If Mr. Booker T. Washington, or any other person, is giving the impression abroad that the Negro problem in America is in process of satisfactory solution, he is giving an impression which is not true. We say this without personal bitterness toward Mr. Washington. He is a distinguished American and has a perfect right to his opinions. But we are compelled to point out that Mr. Washington's large financial responsibilities have made him dependent on the rich charitable public and that, for this reason, he has for years been compelled to tell, not the whole truth, but that part of it which certain powerful interests in America wish to appear as the whole truth. In flat contradiction, however, to the pleasant pictures thus pointed out, let us not forget that the consensus of opinion among eminent European scholars who know the race problem in America from De Tocqueville down to Von Halle, De Laveleys, Archer and Johnston, is that it forms the gravest of American problems. We black men who live and suffer under present conditions, and who have no reason, and refuse to accept reasons, for silence, can substantiate this unanimous testimony."

In furtherance of this statement and in anticipation of the meeting of the Races Congress in 1911, Mr. Milholland arranged that I should go early to the conference and make some addresses. The plan simmered down to a proposed address before the Lyceum Club, the leading woman's group of London. There it ran against the opposition of an American woman who wrote: "I think there is serious objection to entertaining Dr. Du Bois at the Lyceum." The result was a rather acrimonious controversy, from which I tried gently to withdraw but was unable to; and finally, led by Her Highness the Ranee of Sarawak and Dr. Etta Sayre, a luncheon was held at the Lyceum Club with a bishop and two countesses, several knights and ladies and with Maurice Hewlett and Sir Harry Johnston.

The Races Congress in 1911 would have marked an epoch in the racial history of the world if it had not been for the World War. Felix Adler and I were made secretaries of the American section of the Congress in London. It was a great and inspiring occasion bringing together representatives of numerous ethnic and cultural groups and bringing new and frank conceptions of scientific bases of racial and social relations of people. I had a chance twice to address the Congress in the great hall of the University of London and to write one of the two poems which greeted the assembly.

Returning to the United States I was plunged into the "Bull Moose" campaign. I thought I saw a splendid chance for a third party movement on a broad platform of votes for Negroes and industrial democracy. Sitting in the office of The Crisis I wrote out a proposed plank for the Progressives to adopt at their Chicago meeting: "The Progressive party recognizes that distinctions of race or class in political life have no place in a democracy. Especially does the party realize that a group of 10,000,000 people who have in a generation changed from a slave to a free labor system, reestablished family life, accumulated $1,000,000,000 of real property, including 20,000,000 acres of land, and reduced their illiteracy from 80 to 30 percent, deserve and must have justice, opportunity and a voice in their own government. The party, therefore, demands for the American of Negro descent the repeal of unfair discriminatory laws and the right to vote on the same terms on which other citizens vote."

This was taken to Chicago by Joel V. Spingarn and advocated by two other directors of the Association, Dr. Henry Moskowitz and Jane Addams. They worked in vain for its adoption. Theodore Roosevelt would have none of it. He told Mr. Spingarn frankly that he should be "careful of that man Du Bois," who was in Roosevelt's opinion a "dangerous" person. The "Bull Moose" convention refused to seat most of the colored delegates and finally succeeded in making Woodrow Wilson President of the United States.

Bishop Alexander Walters and myself conceived the idea that Mr. Wilson might be approachable. I proposed to throw the weight of The Crisis against Roosevelt and Taft and for Wilson, and Bishop Walters went to see him. He secured from Woodrow Wilson a categorical expression over his signature "of his earnest wish to see justice done the colored people in every matter; and not mere grudging justice, but justice executed with liberality and cordial good feeling. I want to assure them that should I become President of the United States they may count upon me for absolute fair dealing, for everything by which I could assist in advancing the interests of their race in the United States."

In this effort to divide the Negro vote which was successful to an unusual degree, we were cruelly disappointed when the Democratic party won and the next Congress met. There was the greatest flood of discriminatory bills both in Congress and among the States that has probably ever been introduced since the Civil War. Only united and determined effort defeated bills against intermarriage and for other discriminations in eight States; and while most of the proposed legislation in Congress was kept from the statute books, the administration carried out a segregation by color in the various departments which we had to fight for years and vestiges of which remain even today.

In other respects our lines were cast in difficult places. The Socialists began to consider the color line and to discriminate against the membership of colored people in the South, lest whites should not be attracted. Mr. Villard tried to get the President to appoint a National Race Commission to be privately financed to the extent of $50,000, but nothing was done. Suddenly war and revolution struck the world: the Chinese Revolution in 1912; the Balkan War in 1912-13; and finally, in 1914, the World War.

In that very year the National Council of Social Agencies met in Memphis without daring to discuss the color question, but Spingarn and I went down and held open meetings advertising for all who dared hear the truth." We had an interesting time. This success and the death of Booker T. Washington in 1915 led to the first Amenia conference later that year which tried to unite the American Negro in one program of advance.

Finally the World War touched America; with it and in anticipation of it, came a sudden increase of lynching, including the horrible burning alive of a Negro at Dyersburg; there came renewed efforts at segregation; the whole extraordinary difficulties of the draft and the question of Negro officers. We offered our service to fight. What happened? Most Americans have forgotten the extraordinary series of events which worked the feelings of black America to fever heat.

First was the refusal to accept Negro volunteers for the army except in the four black regiments already established. While the nation was combing the country for volunteers for the regular army it would not let the American Negro furnish even his proportionate quota of regular soldiers. This led to some grim bantering among Negroes:

"Why do you want to volunteer?" asked many. "Why should you fight for this country?"

Before we had a chance to reply to this there came the army draft bill and the proposal by Senator Vardaman and his ilk to exempt Negroes. We protested to Washington in various ways and while we were insisting that colored men should be drafted just as other citizens, the bill went through with two little "jokers."

First, it provided that Negroes should be drafted but trained in "separate" units and, secondly, it somewhat ambiguously permitted men to be drafted for "labor."

A wave of fear and unrest spread among Negroes, and while we were looking askance at both these provisions suddenly we received the draft registration blank. It directed persons "of African descent" to "tear off the corner!" Probably never before in the history of the United States has a portion of the citizens been so openly and crassly discriminated against by action of the general government. It was disheartening and on top of it came the celebrated "German plots." It was alleged in various parts of the country with singular unanimity that Germans were working among the Negroes and it was further intimated that this would make the Negroes too dangerous an element to trust with guns. To us, of course, it looked as though the discovery and the proposition came from the same thinly veiled sources.

Considering carefully these series of happenings the American Negro sensed an approaching crisis and faced a puzzling dilemma. Here was evidently being prepared fertile ground for the spread of disloyalty and resentment among the black masses as they were forced to choose apparently between forced labor or a "jim-crow" draft. Manifestly when a minority group is thus segregated and forced out of the nation they can in reason do but one thing--take advantage of the disadvantage. In this case we asked for colored officers for the colored troops.

General Wood was early approached and asked to admit suitable candidates to the Plattsburg Officers Camp. He refused. We thereupon pressed the government for a "separate" camp for the training of Negro officers. Not only did the War Department hesitate at this request but strong opposition arose among the colored people themselves. They said this really was going too far. "We will obey the law but to ask for voluntary segregation is to insult ourselves." But strong, sober second thought came to rescue. We said to our protesting brothers: "We face a condition, not a theory. There is not the slightest chance of our being admitted to white camps, therefore, it is either a case of a 'jim-crow' officers training camp or no colored officers. Of the two thing no colored officers would be the greatest calamity."

Thus we gradually made up our minds. But the War Department still hesitated. It was besieged and when it presented its final argument, "We have no place for such a camp," the trustees of Howard University said: "Take our campus." Eventually 1,200 colored cadets were assembled at Fort Des Moines for training.

The city of Des Moines promptly protested but it finally changed its mind. The city never before had seen such a class of colored men. They rapidly became popular with many classes and encomiums were passed upon their conduct. Especially was the money they spent popular with merchants. Their commanding colonel pronounced their work first class and declared that they presented excellent material for officers.

Meantime, with one accord, the thought of the colored people turned toward Colonel Young, their highest officer in the regular army. Charles Young was an heroic figure. He was the typical soldier--silent, uncomplaining, brave and efficient. From his days at West Point throughout his 28 years of service he had taken whatever task was assigned him and performed it efficiently, and there is no doubt but that the army had been almost merciless in the requirements which it had put upon this splendid officer. He had been segregated, discriminated against and insulted. He came through everything with flying colors. In Haiti, Liberia, in Western camps, in the Sequoia forests of California, and finally with Pershing in Mexico--in every case he triumphed. Just at the time we were looking to the government to call him to head the colored officers training at Des Moines, he was retired from the army because of "high blood pressure!" There is no disputing army surgeons and their judgment in this case may have been justified, but coming at the time it did, every Negro in the United States believed that the "high blood pressure" that retired Colonel Young was in the prejudiced heads of the southern army oligarchy who were determined that no Negro should ever wear the star of a general.

To say that Negroes of the United States were disheartened at the retirement of Colonel Young is to put it mildly; but there was more trouble. The provision that Negro troops must be trained separately looked simple and was simple in places where there were large Negro contingents; but in the North with solitary Negroes drafted here and there we had some extraordinary developments. Regiments appeared with one Negro and he had to be separated like a pest and put in a house or even a village by himself, while the commander frantically telegraphed to Washington. Small wonder that one poor black fellow in Ohio solved the problem by cutting his throat. The whole process of drafting Negroes had to be held up until the government could find methods and places for assembling them.

On the top of this came Houston. In a moment the nation forgot the whole record of one of the most celebrated regiments in the U.S. Army and their splendid service in the Indian Wars and in the Philippines. It was the first regiment mobilized in the Spanish American War and it was the regiment that volunteered to a man to clean up the yellow fever camps when others hesitated. It was one of the regiments to which Pershing said:

"Men, I am authorized by Congress to tell you all that our people back in the States are mighty glad and proud at the way the soldiers have conducted themselves while in Mexico, and I, General Pershing, can say with pride that a finer body of men never stood under the flag of our nation than we find here tonight."

The nation also forgot the deep resentment mixed with the pale ghost of fear which Negro soldiers call up in the breasts of the white South. It is not so much that they fear the Negro will strike if he gets a chance, but rather that they assume with curious unanimity that he has reason to strike; that any other person in his circumstances or treated as he is would rebel. Instead of seeking to relieve the cause of such a possible feeling, most of them strain every effort to bottle up the black man's resentment. Is it inconceivable that now and then it bursts all bounds?

So, in the midst of this mental turmoil came Houston and East St. Louis, in 1917. At Houston, black soldiers, goaded and insulted, suddenly went wild and "shot up" the town. At East St. Louis, white strikers on war work killed and mobbed Negro workingmen. And this is the result:

17 white persons killed125 Negroes killed
19 colored soldiers hanged9 white men imprisoned 5-15 years
51 colored soldiers imprisoned for life11 white men imprisoned 1 year
40 colored soldiers imprisoned18 white men fined
 10 colored men imprisoned 14 years

My career had at this time a certain sense of drama. I had never before seen Theodore Roosevelt but in November 1918 I presided at a meeting in Carnegie Hall where he made his last public speech, appearing together with Irwin Cobb and a representative of the French High Commission. I remember my introduction: "I have the honor to present Theodore Roosevelt." Then on my 50th birthday there was a public celebration and many kindly messages. The Crisis had reached a monthly circulation of 68,000 and during the year I had a little dinner with Glendowen Evans, Margaret DeLand and William James; and Albert Bushnell Hart wrote the words: "Out of his fifty years of life I have followed a good thirty--and have counted him always among the ablest and keenest of our teacher-scholars, an American who viewed his country broadly."

The most important work of the decade as I now look back upon it was my travel. Before 1918 I had made three trips to Europe; but now between 1918 and 1928 I made four trips of extraordinary meaning: to France directly after the close of the war and during the Congress of Versailles; to England, Belgium, France and Geneva in the earliest days of the League of Nations; to Spain, Portugal and Africa in 1923 and 1924; and to Germany, Russia, and Constantinople in 1926. I could scarcely have encompassed a more vital part of the modern world picture than in those stirring journeys. They gave me a depth of knowledge and a breadth of view which was of incalculable value for realizing and judging modern conditions, and above all the problem of race in America.

But this was only part of my work. In the United States I was still fighting the battle of liberalism against race prejudice; trying to adjust war and postwar problems to the questions of racial justice; trying to show from the injustices of war time what the new vision must encompass; fighting mobs and lynchings; encouraging Negro migration; helping woman suffrage; encouraging the new rush of young blacks to college; watching and explaining the political situation and traveling and lecturing over thousands of miles and in hundreds of centers.

In addition to this I was encouraging the writing of others and trying to help develop Negro art and literature. Besides editing The Crisis continuously, I published Darkwater in 1920; The Gift of Black Folk in 1924; and the essay on Georgia in These United States in 1924. This Georgia fought bitterly to keep from appearing. Ernest Gruening, now senator from Alaska, who edited the series, accepted it. I also wrote the concluding chapter in The New Negro edited by Alain Locke in 1925, besides a number of magazine articles. Most of the young writers who began what was called the renaissance of Negro literature in the 20's saw their first publication in The Crisis magazine.

Above all in these days I made two efforts toward which I look back with infinite satisfaction: the two-year attempt in the Brownie's Book to furnish a little magazine for Negro children in which my efforts were ably seconded by Augustus Dill and Jessie Fauset; and most especially my single-handed production of the pageant "The Star of Ethiopia." The pageant was an attempt to put into dramatic form for the benefit of large masses of people, a history of the Negro race. It was first attempted in the New York celebration of Emancipation in 1913; it was repeated with magnificent and breath-taking success in Washington with 1,200 participants; it was given again in Philadelphia in 1916; and in Los Angeles in 1924. Finally I attempted a little theatre movement which went far enough to secure for our little group second prize in an international competition in New York.

When President Wilson was planning to attend the Congress of Versailles, I wrote him a letter, saying:

"The International Peace Congress that is to decide whether or not peoples shall have the right to dispose of themselves will find in its midst delegates from a nation which champions the principle of the 'consent of the governed' and 'government by representation.' That nation is our own, and includes in itself more than twelve million souls whose consent to be governed is never asked. They have no members in the legislatures of states where they are in the majority, and not a single representative in the national Congress."

In 1918 I was asked rather suddenly by the NAACP to go to Europe right after the Armistice, to investigate the treatment of Negro soldiers and keep the record straight; and then at the behest of a group of American Negroes I considered that the interests of Africa ought to be represented during the peace efforts following the war. With infinite difficulty and through the cooperation of Blaise Diagne, the French Deputy from Senegal, I succeeded in gathering in February 1919, at the Grand Hotel in Paris, a Pan-African Congress of 57 delegates including 16 American Negroes, 20 West Indians and 12 Africans. France, Belgium and Portugal were represented by officials. This was to my mind but a beginning and in 1921 I returned and held a Second Pan-African Congress in London, Brussels and Paris from August 28 to September 6. There were 113 accredited delegates from 26 different groups, including 35 from the United States, 39 from Africa and the rest from the West Indies and Europe. Among the speakers were Sir Sidney, afterward Lord Olivier; Florence Kelley, Bishop Hurst, Paul Otlet, often called the father of the League of Nations; Senator La Fontaine of Belgium, Dr. Vitellian, former physician to Menelik of Abyssinia; General Sorelas, Blaise Diagne, Norman Laya, and others.

The attention which the congress evoked all over Europe was astonishing. It was discussed in the London Times, Observer and Daily Graphic; in the Paris Petit Parisian, Matin and Tempe; in the Manchester Guardian and in practically all the daily papers of Belgium. It led to heated debate in Brussels touching the rights of these delegates to discuss the relation of colonies, and it emphasized in the minds of all of us the consequent importance of such discussions.

Two of us visited the League of Nations and the International Labor Office with petitions and suggestions. In 1923 a Third Pan-African Congress, less broadly representative than the second, but nevertheless of some importance, was held in London, Paris and Lisbon; and thence I went to Africa and for the first time saw the homeland of the black race.

It was the time when the United States had disappointed Liberia by not granting her a promised loan, and a gesture of goodwill was in order. At the suggestion of William H. Lewis, Assistant Attorney-General in Washington, I was therefore designated by cable as special minister plenipotentiary and envoy extraordinary to represent President Coolidge at the inauguration of President King. In the presence of the diplomatic and consular representatives of England, France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Holland and Panama of whom I was Dean, I had the honor to tell the President of Liberia: "Your Excellency: . . . I am sure that in this special mark of the President's favor, he has had in mind the wishes and hopes of Negro Americans. He knows how proud they are of the hundred years of independence which you have maintained by force of arms and brawn and brain upon the edge of this mighty continent; he knows that in the great battle against color caste in America the ability of Negroes to rule in Africa has been and ever will be a great and encouraging reinforcement."

At the London meeting of the Third Pan-African Congress, Harold Laski, H. G. Wells, and Sir Sidney Olivier spoke. Ramsay MacDonald had promised to speak to us but was hindered by the sudden opening of the campaign which eventually made him prime minister of England. Among other efforts, at this time we held conferences with members of the Labour Party of England at which Mrs. Sidney Webb, Mr. John Robert Clynes and others were present. We emphasized the importance of labor solidarity between white and black labor in England, America and elsewhere. They were not particularly impressed. In Portugal our meeting was attended by cabinet ministers and deputies and though small was of great interest.

To return again to the fight in the United States, there arose early in this decade the case of Marcus Garvey. I heard of him first when I was in Jamaica in 1915 when he sent a letter "presenting his compliments" and giving me "a hearty welcome to Jamaica, on the part of the United Improvement and Conservation Association." Later he came to the United States. In his case, as in the case of others, I have repeatedly been accused of enmity and jealousy, which have been so far from my thought that the accusations have been a rather bitter experience.

In 1920 when his movement was beginning to grow in America I said in The Crisis that he was "an extraordinary leader of men" and declared that he had "with singular success capitalized and made vocal the great and long suffering grievances and spirit of protest among the West Indian peasantry." On the other hand, I noted his difficulties of temperament and training, inability to get on with his fellow workers, and denied categorically that I had ever interfered in any way with his work. Later when he began to collect money for his steamship line I characterized him as a sincere and hard-working idealist but called his methods bombastic, wasteful, illogical and almost illegal and begged his friends not to allow him foolishly to overwhelm with bankruptcy and disaster one of the most interesting spiritual movements of the modern world.

But he went ahead, wasted his money, got into trouble with the authorities and was deported. As I said at the time: When Garvey was sent to Atlanta, no word or action of ours accomplished the result. His release and deportation were a matter of law which no deed or wish of ours influenced in the slightest degree. We have today, no enmity against Marcus Garvey. He has a great and worthy dream. We wish him well. He is free; he has a following; he still has a chance to carry on his work in his own home and among his own people and to accomplish some of his ideas. Let him do it. We will be the first to applaud any success that he may have."

I felt for a moment as the war progressed that I could be without reservation a patriotic American. The government was making sincere efforts to meet our demands. It had commissioned over 700 Negro officers; I had had a personal interview with Newton Baker, Secretary of War, and he had made categorical promises; Wilson had spoken out against lynching; and I myself had been offered a captaincy in the Intelligence Service, afterwards, to be sure, rather incontinently withdrawn as the higher command realized just who I was. Nevertheless, I tried to stand by the country and wrote the widely discussed editorial "Close Ranks" in which I said to the Negroes: "Forget your grievances for the moment and stand by your country."

I am not sure that I was right but certainly my intentions were. I did not believe in war, but I thought that in a fight with America against militarism and for democracy we would be fighting for the emancipation of the Negro race. With the Armistice came disillusion. I saw the mud and dirt of the trenches; I heard from the mouths of soldiers the kind of treatment that black men got in the American army; I was convinced and said that American white officers fought more valiantly against Negroes within our ranks than they did against the Germans. I still believe this was largely true. I collected some astonishing documents of systematic slander and attack upon Negroes and demands upon the French for insulting attitudes toward them, and when I published these documents in America the government started to interfere by refusing The Crisis mailing facilities; then, realizing that this was an admission of guilt, they quickly withdrew their prohibition.

I was especially upset by the mobs and lynchings during this time: by that extraordinary upheaval wherein for several hours black men fighting against a mob practically held the city of Washington in their hands; then the riot and murder in Chicago. [13] We fought back through the NAACP, the columns of The Crisis, through lectures and articles, with every force at hand. Mary Talbert started the Anti-Lynching Crusaders and with her help and that of our secretary, James Weldon Johnson, we raised a defense fund of $70,000 and put the Dyer Lynch Bill through the House of Representatives and on to the floor of the Senate. It was not until years after that I knew what killed that anti-lynching bill. It was a bargain between the South and the West by which lynching was permitted on condition that the Japanese were excluded.

Court cases kept pressing upon us: there were the Elaine riots and the Arkansas cases; there was the Sweet case in Detroit; [14] and equally significant to my mind but to few other Negroes the Sacco-Vanzetti case in Massachusetts. We continued winning court victories and yet somehow, despite them, we did not seem to be getting very far. We added to the Grandfather Case of 1915 and the Segregation Case of 1917, the victories in the Arkansas cases, the white primary case and another segregation case in the high courts, in addition to the eventual freeing of Dr. Sweet and his family. Still injustice prevailed. In the case of the Mississippi flood, the Red Cross allowed the Negroes to be treated as slaves and peons, and in Oklahoma, the Episcopal church refused to prosecute a white murderer on its own school grounds. Above all there came disquieting situations among Negro students: a strike at Hampton, disturbed conditions at Wilberforce, turmoil at Howard, and an uprising at Fisk.

It was thus a decade of infinite effort and discouraging turmoil. I suppose it had to be. I suppose that with the best will, it would have been impossible for me to concentrate on a few great lines of creative effort. I had to be a part of the revolution through which the world was going and to feel in my own soul the scars of its battles. Two events made a sort of finale to the decade: the Fourth Pan-African Congress held in New York in 1927 with Dantes Bellegarde, George Vylvain and other speakers; and the Congress of British West Africa which began its meetings in 1920 and forced the British government to the greatest step toward democratic method ever taken up to that time in black colonies.

Finally, to my surprise and quite against my best judgment, there was given for me upon my return from Africa at the Cafe Savarin in New York, a dinner. Among the speakers were Heywood Broun, Walter Hampden and Mrs. Mary McCleod Bethune, and tributes were sent by Witter Bynner, Zona Gale and Eugene O'Neil. It was a very beautiful and touching tribute.


12. The Secretaries of the NAACP were as follows: Frances Blascoe (1910-1911); Mary White Ovington (1911-1912); May Childs Nerney (1912-1916); Mary White Ovington (January 1916 to February 1916); Royal Freeman Nash (1916-1917); James Weldon Johnson (1917 to January 1, 1918); John R. Shillady (1918-1920); James Weldon Johnson (1920- January, 1931); thereafter Walter White (until his death in 1955) and presently Roy Wilkins.

13. In the summer of 1919 white mobs, with large contingents of soldiers and sailors, attacked the Negro communities in Washington and in Chicago. Dozens were killed and scores seriously injured; in both cases, after the original assault, Negroes formed self-defense units and fought back with great effectiveness. Many other pogroms occurred in what became known as the "Red Summer" of 1919; one of these is discussed in the note that follows.

14. Negro farmers and sharecroppers in and around Elaine, Arkansas, in 1919 formed an organization for the purpose of bargaining collectively with the plantation owners; they intended to obtain wages and improvements approaching conditions suitable for human beings and also a termination of peonage. A sheriffís posse attacked their meeting; in the resistance, one deputy was shot and killed. Terror followed for three days throughout Phillips County and about 250 Negroes were killed. In a ìtrialî--it lasted about 45 minutes--12 Negroes were sentenced to die and 67 were given long prison sentences. In Moore v. Dempsey (1923), brought by the NAACP, these convictions were reversed. Du Bois wrote of this case several times; notably in The Crisis, February, 1920, XIX, 169ff.

The Sweet case refers to the attack by a mob in Detroit in 1925 upon the home of a Negro physician, Dr. O.H. Sweet, recently purchased in a ìwhiteî neighborhood. Armed resistance from the house resulted in the killing of one of the attacking mob. Dr. Sweet, his brother and some of his friends were brought to trial. The NAACP led the defense; their attorneys were Clarence Darrow and Arthur Garfield Hayes, and all were finally acquitted. Du Boisí comments on the event and the trial are in The Crisis, January and July, 1926, XXX, 60f., XXXI, 114.

From W.E.B. DuBois, The Autobiography of W.E.B. DuBois: A Soliloquy on Viewing My Life from the Last Decade of Its First Century. New York, NY: International Publishers Co. Inc., 1968, pp. 254-276.