Education Has an Element of Danger… – Thoughts from Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk

The Souls of Black FolkI read at least two books a month on social justice, poverty, race issues…  Yesterday, I presented a synopsis of the true classic, The Souls of Black Folk, by W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt) Du Bois, for the Urban Engagement Book Club, sponsored by CitySquare.  Dr. Du Bois, co-founder of the NAACP, first African American to earn a Doctorate at Harvard, wrote this book in 1903.  It is worth your time to read!

The most famous line in the book, which he repeats numerous times throughout the book, is this:

for the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line…

But I especially liked/appreciated this excerpt:

The opposition to Negro education in the South was at first bitter, and showed itself in ashes, insult, and blood; for the South believed an educated Negro to be a dangerous Negro.

And the South was not wholly wrong; for education among all kinds of men always has had, and always will have, an element of danger and revolution, of dissatisfaction and discontent. Nevertheless, men strive to know.

Education – an “element of danger, and revolution.”  It does create “dissatisfaction, and discontent.”  which leads to breakthroughs in all sorts of ways.

(I thought back to the book I read decades ago by Neil Postman, Teaching as a Subversive Activity).

And in this book, Dr. Du Bois described the enormous struggle it was for the black folk to even be “allowed” to provide education to their children.

Race is still an issue, in far too many ways.  Education is still dangerous, because with education, people know more, learn more, want to be and do more.

More power to them.


You can read this book (it is, really, a collection of essays) one essay at a time on-line for free here.  And you can get a free copy of the book for your Kindle App here.


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