This Week In Black History

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For the Week of August 27-September 2

August 27

1963—African-American activist and intellectual giant W.E.B. DuBois dies in Accra, Ghana, at the age of 95. Born in Great Barrington, Mass., DuBois was one of the most dominant figures in the African-American struggle against racial oppression for nearly 40 years. He helped found the Niagara Movement (precursor to the NAACP) in 1906 and helped organize the first Pan African Conference in London. An educational product of Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., he also taught at Atlanta University in Atlanta, Ga., and edited the NAACP’s Crisis magazine. DuBois was a major opponent of Booker T. Washington’s grand “compromise” with Whites and he argued frequently with Marcus Garvey’s Black separatist ideology. However, the “attacker of injustice and defender of freedom” would eventually become frustrated with the slow, legalistic tactics of the NAACP and the tenacity of American racism. He turned to socialism and late in life went into self-imposed exile in the West African nation of Ghana. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would write of him: “History cannot ignore W.E.B. Dubois because history has to reflect the truth and Dr. DuBois was a tireless explorer of the truth.”

Haile-Selassie

HAILE SELASSIE

1975—Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie dies at the age of 83. He had worked to modernize the East African nation and rescue his land from foreign White control. Forced to flee Ethiopia when the Italians invaded in 1936, he would later return to lead a resistance movement which freed the country from European domination in 1941. Selassie traced his heritage all the way back to the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon of the Christian Bible. Many Blacks worldwide considered him a holy figure. Indeed, the Rastafarian religion gets its name from his original name Ras Tafari Makonnen. Selassie’s full title was “His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, Conquering Lion of Judah, King of Kings of Ethiopia and elect of God.”

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