The Souls of Black Folk

The Souls of Black Folk Study Guide

The Souls of Black Folk, published in 1903, is one of the most prominent pieces of sociological American literature, and one of the most important pieces of African-American literature. Previously published in Atlantic Monthly, the work is a collection of essays compiled by W.E.B Du Bois in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

"The Souls of Black Folk" was highly praised, particularly because of Du Bois' steadfast defense of blacks in the United States. In this collection of essays, Du Bois exemplified his negation and disapproval of Booker T. Washington's contention that all blacks must remain subservient members of society. Instead, Du Bois took the publishing of his literature as an opportunity to praise Washington on his contributions, and to urge Washington to speak out against racial injustice.

"The Souls of Black Folk" thus marks W.E.B. Du Bois' conversion from dedicated scholar to vocal advocate for the empowerment of the black race. It was, quite literally, an evolution from theory to practice. In this collection of essays, Du Bois was able to introduce the idea of "double consciousness" and "the veil," which have provided a framework for how African-Americans experience society.