W.E.B. Du Bois is the narrator of the essays in the "Souls of Black Folk." Throughout the book, he provides personal and third-person accounts of the black experience during the period of slavery and Reconstruction.
W.E.B. Du Bois' wife plays a small part in this collection of essays. Having the role of wife and mother to Du Bois' child, however, she becomes an essential figure and symbol of strife.
Du Bois' first-born child, like his wife, plays a small part of the essay. Born within the shadow of the Veil, the son ultimately dies in infancy. His death results in his living "above the veil."
Booker T. Washington
Booker T. Washington was an African-American academic who advocated for the rise of the black man within the United States. In 1895, Washington delivered the Atlanta Compromise, which called for providing educational and training opportunities for the black American community instead of for fighting against segregation. Washington was an advocate of education, and held a prominent position at Fisk University.
Alexander Crummel was a priest who devoted his life's work to promoting racial equality within the black church. He was initially educated in a white school, and touched by his good fortune, responded to a calling for the priesthood. His membership in the clergy was at first very successful. Eventually, his congregation dwindled, and he moved to Philadelphia where he would be able to gather more black followers. He was turned away from representation in this city, and continued his pilgrimage throughout the world to fight for religious freedom. He moved to England, where he studied at Cambridge, while living in poverty and striving for religious tolerance. His journey ultimately took him to Africa, where he eventually died.
Josie was a 20 year old woman who sought an education. Living in a segregated black community in the country, she had not attended educational institutions until Du Bois came to town to teach the young people of the community. She was an arduous worker, whose family's strife eventually led to her demise.
The Souls of Black Folk Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Souls of Black Folk is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.