Harvard sociology conference to give W.E.B. Du Bois his due – Harvard Gazette


GAZETTE: Du Bois famously declared at the First Pan African Conference in 1900, “The problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color line.” What would Du Bois have to say about where things stand today in America?

BOBO: On the one hand, I think he would marvel at the degree to which what he called “the talented tenth” has moved into mainstream corridors of power and privilege, and, arguably, comfort and influence. But I think he would bemoan, and even rightly claim that he could have forecast or at least laid the foundations for understanding, that we weren’t really ever wrestling with that intersection of economic poverty and race that put African-Americans at this unusually vulnerable place in the social order.

In 1899, Du Bois created a complicated class-structure view…

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