W. E. B. Dubois's Exhibit of American Negroes: African Americans at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century

Product Details
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Publish Date
5.9 X 9.1 X 0.8 inches | 1.1 pounds

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About the Author
Eugene F. Provenzo, Jr. is a professor in the School of Education at the University of Miami. He is the author or editor of a number of books, including DuBois on Education and The Illustrated Souls of Black Folk.
Denied an invitation to exhibit at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, black scholars and leaders were able to get an invitation for the Exhibit of American Negroes at the 1900 Paris Exposition. It was a chance to show the world how African Americans had progressed since emancipation, and its organizer, W. E. B. Du Bois, took full advantage of the opportunity. On display, as well, were his own skills as a sociologist, documenting and analyzing the cultural lives of black Americans through their homes, colleges, churches, businesses, arts, and literature. This was three years before Du Bois wrote his seminal work, The Souls of Black Folks, and before he began his contentious debate with Booker T. Washington on the best way forward for educating black Americans. Drawing on archival material, Provenzo offers more than 200 black-and-white images of displays as well as the statistics and data, also on display, documenting the history and then-current condition of African Americans. This is an important snapshot of life for black Americans at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Perhaps best known for The Souls of Black Folk (1903), W. E. B. Du Bois was more than an author. His efforts as one of the founders of the NAACP, his editing of the periodical the Crisis, and his revisionist interpretation of the Dunning School of Reconstruction historiography, Black Reconstruction in America (1935), are other examples of his worth that attest to his varied concerns and triumphs during his lifetime. Until now, an important episode that frequently has been omitted from classes and texts is the major effort by Du Bois to assemble materials for an exhibit of various aspects of African American cultural progress in Georgia from Reconstruction through the Gilded Age (the photographs are most impressive) for the 1900 Paris Exposition. Provenzo (education, Univ. of Miami) brings renewed attention to Du Bois through insights in the preface and introduction. Those concerned with African American history will benefit from this work and may wish to also consult Provenzo's The Illustrated Souls of Black Folk (2004) for a companion read. Summing Up: Recommended.
The 1900 Paris Exhibition was a chance for African Americans to show the world that they had, against all odds, developed a vibrant intellectual, educational and religious culture in the former slave states of America. Ten years before he founded the NAACP, W.E.B. DuBois used his role in the Exhibition to begin the long, fruitful process of achieving equality.
Eugene F. Provenzo, Jr. allows readers to journey through black America at the beginning of the twentieth century with W.E.B. DuBois as our guide. Provenzo shows us that 'The Exhibit of American Negroes' at the 1900 Paris Exposition can be seen as a precis of DuBois's monumental Atlanta University Studies, and as the first draft of The Souls of Black Folk. This is a journey well worth taking.