In 1895, he became the very first African American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University. Du Bois wrote extensively and was the best known representative for African American rights during the initial half of the 20th century. He co-founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1909. Du Bois died in Ghana in 1963.
In 1885, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to attend Fisk University. It was there that he first fell upon Jim Crow laws. For the very first time, he started examining the serious problems of American racism.
After earning his bachelor’s degree at Fisk, Du Bois entered Harvard University. He paid his way with cash from summer jobs, scholarships and loans from friends. After finishing his master’s degree, he was chosen to get a study-abroad program in the University of Berlin. While a student in Germany, he studied with a number of the very prominent social scientists of his day and was exposed to political views which he touted for the rest of his life.
Du Bois became the very first African American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1895, and went on to register as a doctoral student at Friedrich Wilhelms Universitt (now Humboldt Universitt). (He’d be given an honorary doctoral degree from Humboldt decades later, in 1958.)
Not long after, Du Bois released his landmark study the first case study of an African American community The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study (1899), indicating the start of his grand writing career. In the study, he coined the phrase “the talented tenth,” a term that described the odds of one in 10 black men becoming leaders of the race.
Du Bois criticized Washington for not demanding equality for African Americans, as given by the 14th Amendment. Du Bois fought what he considered was an inferior strategy, later being a representative for complete and equal rights in every world of an individual ‘s life. In 1903, Du Bois released his seminal work, The Souls of Black Folk, a group of 14 essays. In the years following, he adamantly opposed the theory of biological white superiority and vocally supported women’s rights. A proponent of Pan Africanism, Du Bois helped coordinate several Pan-African Congresses to free African colonies from European powers.