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These are heartfelt essays about discrimination, injustice and denial. Du Bois analyzes the problem of 'color line' and the importance of 'dwelling above the veil' of prejudice in terms of sociology, history, religion, music and psychology.
From the start, the first chapter 'Of our spiritual strivings' moved me deeply. It focuses on the stereotype of an African American as "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 SoBF is a universally acknowledged literary masterpiece, a blend of poignant fiction, critique and autobiography. It creates powerful imagery that stays etched in your memory.
The book is made up of the following essays:
Of Our Spiritual Strivings
Of the Dawn of Freedom
Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others
Of the Meaning of Progress
Of the Wings of Atalanta
Of the Training of Black Men
Of the Black Belt
Of the Quest of the Golden Fleece
Of the Sons of Master and Man
Of the Faith of the Fathers
Of the Passing of the First-Born
Of Alexander Crummell
Of the Coming of John
The Sorrow Songs
Each of the essays is introduced by a passage from poems and songs. The last section, which I found particularly insightful, interprets the message of African American folk songs.
39 of 39 people found this review helpful
I listened to this book after listening to Booker T Washington's "Up from Slavery" because I wanted to know more about these great men. My eyes were opened W.E.B. DuBois let us peek at the soul crushing ways poverty and racism change people. In addition I have discovered he was a real artist, unlike Booker T Washington a pragmatist. I loved DuBois used language in his prose. I now understand his more radical at that time attitude toward black people obtaining political and human rights because the artist soul can't be contained. I encourage readers to read both books and discover the genius of both these different men.
26 of 26 people found this review helpful
This is such an important and insightful book to come to understand the world we live in and specifically the circumstances and conditions of African Americans living in the USA. The narrator does an amazing job of bringing the text to life with true emotion when it could have so easily have been a bookish and depressing read. Both the author and the narrator have an eloquence that makes this book a wonder to read, despite the distressing nature of its subject. I highly recommend it.