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WEB Du Bois WEB Du Bois was a black American historian and sociologist who conducted the initial research on the black experience in the United States His work established the way for the civil rights African and Black Power movements in the United States William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was born in Great Barrington Massachusetts 1868 three years after the end of the Civil War Unlike most black Americans his family had not just emerged from slavery His great-grandfather had fought in the American Revolution and the Burghardts had been an accepted part of the community for generations Du Bois is a descendant of African American French and Dutch ancestors After he was born his father left He was raised by his mother who taught him the sense of a special destiny She encouraged his studies and his devotion to the Victorian virtues and characteristic of rural New England in the 19th century Du Bois in turn gravely accepted a sense of duty toward his mother that transcended all other loyalties Du Bois excelled at school and outshined his white contemporaries While in high school he worked as a correspondent for New York newspapers and became something of a prodigy in the eyes of the community As he reached adolescence he began to become aware of the subtle social boundaries which he was expected to observe This made him all the more determined to force the community to recognize his academic achievements He demonstrated his intellectual gifts at an early age He graduated from high school at age 16 the valedictorian and only black in his graduating class of 12 He was orphaned shortly after his graduation and was forced to fund his own college education He won a scholarship to Fisk University in Nashville Tennessee where he also excelled Du Bois left Fisk in the fall of 1885 it was the last time he would call Great Barrington
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