Black Lives 1900: W.E.B. Du Bois at the Paris Exposition
How W.E.B. Du Bois combined photographs and infographics to communicate the everyday realities of Black lives and the inequities of race in America
At the 1900 Paris Exposition the pioneering sociologist and activist W.E.B. Du Bois presented an exhibit representing the progress of African Americans since the abolition of slavery. In striking graphic visualisations and photographs (taken by mostly anonymous photographers) he showed the changing status of a newly emancipated people across America and specifically in Georgia, the state with the largest Black population. This beautifully designed book reproduces the photographs alongside the revolutionary graphic works for the first time, and includes a marvelous essay by two celebrated art historians, Jacqueline Francis and Stephen G. Hall.Du Bois' hand-drawn charts, maps and graphs represented the achievements and economic conditions of African Americans in radically inventive forms, long before such data visualization was commonly used in social research. Their clarity and simplicity seems to anticipate the abstract art of the Russian constructivists and other modernist painters to come. The photographs were drawn from African American communities across the United States. Both the photographers and subjects are mostly anonymous. They show people engaged in various occupations or posing formally for group and studio portraits. Elegant and dignified, they refute the degrading stereotypes of Black people then prevalent in white America. Du Bois' exhibit at the Paris Exposition continues to resonate as a powerful affirmation of the equal rights of Black Americans to lives of freedom and fulfilment. Black Lives 1900 captures this singular work. American sociologist, historian, author, editor and activist W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963) was the most influential Black civil rights activist of the first half of the 20th century. He was a protagonist in the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909, and his 1903 bookThe Souls of Black Folk remains a classic and a landmark of African American literature.--Laura Snoad "It's Nice That"
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About the Author
W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963) was a black American author, sociologist, historian and civil rights activist. He was the first African American to earn a PhD from Harvard University and one of the founders of the NAACP. His writings include Black Reconstruction in America, commonly considered the original pioneering work of revisionist African American history, and The Souls of Black Folk, a powerful and enduringly influential examination of the African American condition. Dr. Du Bois devoted his life to working toward equal rights and opportunities for people of color in the USA and worldwide.
Shattered myths about Black America...--Jacqueline Francis "LitHub"
Thematic and poetic pairings... By recovering [W.E.B. Du Bois's] mode of presentation--illustrating impersonal forces besides portraits of individuals, their homes and their workplaces--this volume gives further evidence, if such is still needed, of Du Bois's rich dialectical method.--Ciaran Finlayson "Bookforum"
Rothenstein seeks to emphasize the relevance of Du Bois's work through juxtaposition: materials from the original exhibition are interspersed with excerpts from Du Bois's own writings and more... These interstitial selections seem intended to conjure a continuum of black voices, or perhaps to argue that the insurmountable prejudices of Du Bois's day linger in the present.--Hua Hsu "New Yorker"
This is an extraordinary book - an arrestingly beautiful combination of photographs and graphics.--Margaret Busby "New Yorker"
Focussing on the set of 63 infographics Du Bois presented at the 1900 Paris Exposition, [the book] shows the pioneering graphs, charts and maps Du Bois developed with a team of African American students from his sociology laboratory at Atlanta University to radically challenge racism and the arguments behind white supremacy.--Laura Snoad "It's Nice That"
contains reproduction of the images taken by mostly anonymous photographers showing the changing status of a newly emancipated people across America.--Charles Caesar "Galerie"
A handsome new book that tells a lesser-known but fascinating story about the 1900 fair: the staging of the American Negro Exhibit at the grand Palace of Social Economy.--Sukhdev Sandhu "Guardian"