THE REPENTANCE PROJECT / AN AMERICAN LENT
of Double Consciousness
of Double Consciousness
WEEK III / DAY VI
Saturday, March 3, 2018
Excerpt from The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois — Originally Published in 1903
“Herein lie buried many things which if read with patience may show the strange meaning of being black here [in America] in the dawning of The Twentieth Century. This meaning is not without interest to you, Gentle Reader; for the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line." (Du Bois, 2003:3)
“After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton [a Germanic tribe] and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world, — a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness, — an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.
“The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife, - this longing to attain self-conscious manhood [personhood], to merge his double self into a better and truer self. In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost. He would not Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa. He would not bleach his Negro soul in a flood of white Americanism, for he knows that Negro blood has a message for the world. He simply wishes to make it possible for a man [or woman] to be both Negro and American, without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of Opportunity closed roughly in his face.” (Du Bois, 2003:9)
About The Author
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was born on February 23, 1868, in Great Barrington, MA, and was raised by his mother in New England. Du Bois displayed an academic prowess that led him to earn a scholarship to the leading African-American University of the time, Fisk, where he found his life’s passion for African-American history. Du Bois earned his second bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and eventually became the first African-American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University. Du Bois penned influential books and essays. He served a stint as professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania and a professor of economics and history at Atlanta University in Georgia. In 1909, Du Bois co-founded the NAACP. He worked tirelessly in the field of social research until his death on August 27, 1963; the day before the epic 1963 march on Washington.
Du Bois, W.E.B. (2003) The Souls of Black Folk. New York City: Barnes & Noble Books. (Original work published 1903)
Compiled by Demetrius Summerville