The Souls of Black Folks by W.E.B Du Bois
Reconsidered for the era of Obama, Trump, and Black Lives Matter, the new edition of the W.E.B Du Bois classic The Souls of Black Folk includes an incisive introduction from rising cultural critic Vann R. Newkirk II and stunning illustrations by the artist Steve Prince.
Striking in their psychological precision and political foresight, the fourteen chapters of The Souls of Black Folk move between historical and sociological essays, song and poetry, personal recollection and fiction, laying out the foundational ideas of “double-consciousness”—an inner conflict created by the seemingly irreconcilable “black” and “American” identities—and “the veil,” through which African-Americans must see a spectrum of economic, social, and political opportunities entirely differently from their white counterparts.
For anyone interested in understanding race in America, or in the literary lineage that Du Bois generated—from James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, to Toni Morrison’s Sula, to Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me—The Souls of Black Folk is essential reading.
“Du Bois… wrote knowing full well that what he said was neither palatable nor negotiable, that a large portion of the country would not be swayed, and that the truth, in and of itself, must be enough. It is often said that this space lacks for hope. Here is your bone for the day: In the academy, Du Bois was victorious. He did not live to see that victory, but it is his view on the centrality of white supremacy that now carries the day.”
“What Dr. Du Bois showed is that he had enormous courage. I would encourage young men and women, black and white and Asian and Spanish speaking and all, all to look at Dr. Du Bois and realize that courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can’t be consistently fair or kind or generous or forgiving any of those without courage.”
Restless Books Classics 2017