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WEB Du Bois was born a free man in his small village of Great Barington Massachusetts three years after the Civil War For generations the Du Bois family had been an accepted part of the community since before his great-grandfather had fought in the American Revolution Early on Du Bois was given an awareness of his African-heritage through the ancient songs his grandmother taught him This awareness set him apart from his New England community with an ancestry shrouded in mystery in sharp contrast to the precisely accounted history of the Western world This difference would be the foundation for his desire to change the way African-Americans co-existed in America As a student Du Bois was considered something of a prodigy who excelled beyond the capabilities of his white peers He found work as a correspondent for New York newspapers and slowly began to realize the inhibitions of social boundaries he was expected to observe every step of the way When racism tried to take his pride and dignity he became more determined to make sure society recognized his achievements Clearly Du Bois showed great promise and some influential members of his community Although Du Bois dreamt of attending Harvard these influential individuals arranged for his education at Fisk University in Nashville His experiences at Fisk changed his life and he discovered his fate as a leader of the black struggle to free his people from oppression At Fisk Du Bois became acquainted with many sons and daughters of former slaves who felt the pain of oppression and shared his sense of cultural and spiritual tradition In the South he saw his people being driven to a status of little difference from slavery and saw them terrorized at the polls He taught school during the summers in the eastern portion of Tennessee and saw the suffering firsthand He then resolved to dedicate his life to fighting the terrible racial oppression that held the black people
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