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"The Souls of Black Folk" turns 100

UC Riverside Celebrates Centennial of “The Souls of Black Folk.”

Free Public Program May 3 on Importance of Book by W.E.B. Du Bois

(May 1, 2003)

W.E.B. Du Bois

W.E.B. Du Bois

RIVERSIDE, Calif. -- To celebrate the 100th anniversary of W.E.B. Du Bois’s book, The Souls of Black Folk, UCLA researcher and editor Robert Hill and actress Vinie Burrows will give a free public program at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 3, in room 1500 of the Humanities and Social Sciences building at the University of California, Riverside.

Du Bois (pronounced DO-BOYS), born shortly after the end of slavery, attended Harvard University and received a Ph.D in history. In 1903 his book, The Souls of Black Folk, argued that blacks should not be relegated to second-class citizenship. Not long afterward, he co-founded the NAACP. He was a public intellectual who accurately predicted that “the problem of the 20th Century is the problem of the color line.”

“It was the single most important book on black culture and the American racial crisis to appear in the 20th century,” said Sterling Stuckey, a professor of history at UC Riverside who has written extensively about slavery and the experience of Africans in America. “Du Bois provided unrivaled intellectual leadership of the Civil Rights movement for nearly sixty years. He was a true visionary.”

Stuckey said this centennial is an opportunity for scholars of American culture to focus in a new and sustained way on the benefits for those who draw on the source material in The Souls of Black Folk. “The riches of the book appear to be inexhaustible,” Stuckey said.

This event is part of the Africa Diaspora Series, sponsored by the History Department with support from the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and The Center for Ideas and Society, through a generous grant from the Ford Foundation on “Intellectual Diversity and Excellence.” The Center fosters collaborative and interdisciplinary research, performances and conferences in areas that advance the understanding of human experience.

Hill, an elegant interpreter of historic texts, will be presenting a paper on Du Bois and his influence. Hill studies Afro-American and Caribbean History and he heads the Marcus Garvey Collection at UCLA. Born in Jamaica, he studied at the University of London, the University of Toronto and The University of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica.

Burrows, a gifted dramatic reader, will read selections from The Souls of Black Folk and other works by Du Bois. Burrows began her career as a child actress on Broadway with Helen Hayes and later worked with Ossie Davis and Claude Raines. She has been a visiting Professor at New York University.

A reception will follow the presentations. Maps and directions to the event are available at UCR information kiosks located at University Avenue and the Canyon Crest Drive campus entrances, or on the website at Visitor parking costs $6 per vehicle.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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