W.E.B. Du Bois and the Next President

DuBois_Face07_GrayScale_Mod05Yesterday, OnBeing.org, aired a tribute to the late W.E.B. Du Bois. Maya Angelou (recording from one of her last interviews), Elizabeth Alexander, and Arnold Rampersad reflect on the life and writing of Du Bois.

Alexander and Rampersad in particular point to the role of education which Dr. Du Bois described as the foundation of a life. His belief is that by focusing on the character building and treasure trove of great ideas and mentors in our history, the qualification for jobs naturally follows on. The quote below is from his book, The Negro Problem: A Series of Articles by Representative Negroes of To-day.

The Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men. The problem of education, then, among Negroes must first of all deal with the Talented Tenth; it is the problem of developing the Best of this race that they may guide the Mass away from the contamination and death of the Worst, in their own and other races. Now the training of men is a difficult and intricate task. Its technique is a matter for educational experts, but its object is for the vision of seers. If we make money the object of man-training, we shall develop money-makers but not necessarily men; if we make technical skill the object of education, we may possess artisans but not, in nature, men. Men we shall have only as we make manhood the object of the work of the schools—intelligence, broad sympathy, knowledge of the world that was and is, and of the relation of men to it—this is the curriculum of that Higher Education which must underlie true life. On this foundation we may build bread winning, skill of hand and quickness of brain, with never a fear lest the child and man mistake the means of living for the object of life. . . .

As I think about the line-up of Presidential candidates, I believe we should look at each candidate’s education. I’ll be gathering that information to this blog over the next few months. Be sure to visit the OnBeing.org site to read the links to Dubois’ works, and to listen to the interviews. Its worth it for many reasons, but mostly to hear Maya Angelou at the pinnacle of her life and wisdom.

 

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