Dubois Essay Talented Tenth

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The larger humanity strives to feel in this contact of living Nations and sleeping hordes a thrill of new life in the world, crying, “If the contact of Life and Sleep be Death, shame on such Life.” To be sure, behind this thought lurks the afterthought of force and dominion,—the making of brown men to delve when the temptation of beads and red calico cloys.

The second thought streaming from the death-ship and the curving river is the thought of the older South,—the sincere and passionate belief that somewhere between men and cattle, God created a tertium quid, and called it a Negro,—a clownish, simple creature, at times even lovable within its limitations, but straitly foreordained to walk within the Veil.

So here we stand among thoughts of human unity, even through conquest and slavery; the inferiority of black men, even if forced by fraud; a shriek in the night for the freedom of men who themselves are not yet sure of their right to demand it.

This is the tangle of thought and afterthought wherein we are called to solve the problem of training men for life.

Why college: Du Bois said it was necessary just to turn out the well-trained preachers and teachers blacks needed.

The numbers: Back then only one black person in 3,000 had a university degree. Even worse, only a third of black children of school age were going to school, and many of those only for a few months a year.Again, we may decry the color-prejudice of the South, yet it remains a heavy fact.Such curious kinks of the human mind exist and must be reckoned with soberly.of those born in the South worked among blacks in the South.Their education mainly benefited blacks, not whites. Woodson in “The Mis-Education of the Negro” (1933) has a much different take, but that is for another post.” To be sure, behind the thought lurks the afterthought,—suppose, after all, the World is right and we are less than men?Suppose this mad impulse within is all wrong, some mock mirage from the untrue?It was also needed to produce good leaders – otherwise: “a hundred half-trained demagogues will still hold the places they so largely occupy now, and hundreds of vociferous busy-bodies will multiply.You have no choice; either you must help furnish this race from within its own ranks with thoughtful men of trained leadership, or you must suffer the evil consequences of a headless misguided rabble.” But it went beyond the merely practical.the shimmering swirl of waters where many, many thoughts ago the slave-ship first saw the square tower of Jamestown, have flowed down to our day three streams of thinking: one swollen from the larger world here and overseas, saying, the multiplying of human wants in culture-lands calls for the world-wide coöperation of men in satisfying them.Hence arises a new human unity, pulling the ends of earth nearer, and all men, black, yellow, and white.


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