The Souls of Black Folk
, by W. E. B. Du Bois
Burghardt and Yolande
The Lost and the Found
Herein lie buried many things which if read with patience may show the
strange meaning of being black here at 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. I
pray you, then, receive my little book in all charity, studying my words
with me, forgiving mistake and foible for sake of the faith and passion
that is in me, and seeking the grain of truth hidden there.
I have sought here to sketch, in vague, uncertain outline, the spiritual
world in which ten thousand thousand Americans live and strive. First, in
two chapters I have tried to show what Emancipation meant to them, and
what was its aftermath. In a third chapter I have pointed out the
slow rise of personal leadership, and criticized candidly the leader who
bears the chief burden of his race to-day. Then, in two other chapters I
have sketched in swift outline the two worlds within and without the Veil,
and thus have come to the central problem of training men for life.
Venturing now into deeper detail, I have in two chapters studied the
struggles of the massed millions of the black peasantry, and in another
have sought to make clear the present relations of the sons of master and
man. Leaving, then, the white world, I have stepped within the Veil,
raising it that you may view faintly its deeper recesses,--the meaning of
its religion, the passion of its human sorrow, and the struggle of its
greater souls. All this I have ended with a tale twice told but seldom
written, and a chapter of song.
Some of these thoughts of mine have seen the light before in other guise.
For kindly consenting to their republication here, in altered and extended
form, I must thank the publishers of the Atlantic Monthly, The World's
Work, the Dial, The New World, and the Annals of the American Academy of
Political and Social Science. Before each chapter, as now printed, stands
a bar of the Sorrow Songs,--some echo of haunting melody from the only
American music which welled up from black souls in the dark past. And,
finally, need I add that I who speak here am bone of the bone and flesh of
the flesh of them that live within the Veil?
W.E.B Du B.
ATLANTA, GA., FEB. 1, 1903.