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Slave CultureNationalist Theory and the Foundations of Black America$
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Sterling Stuckey

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199931675

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199931675.001.0001

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W. E. B. Du Bois: Black Cultural Reality and the Meaning of Freedom

W. E. B. Du Bois: Black Cultural Reality and the Meaning of Freedom

(p.275) 5 W. E. B. Du Bois: Black Cultural Reality and the Meaning of Freedom
Slave Culture

Sterling Stuckey

Oxford University Press

To W. E. B. Du Bois, the slave church was African rather than Christian, thus allowing slaves of different backgrounds to find a common spiritual vision and a pan-African identity. His conception of double consciousness—the sense of being divided, an American, a Negro—was derived from Frederick Douglass's conception that “gloom” and “cheer” so burdened slaves that they were almost torn asunder. Yet Du Bois argues that the reliance of slaves on themselves yielded art that called into question the charge that they were inferior to whites. In addition, Du Bois added, in The Souls of Black Folk and elsewhere, that the slave contribution to the nation's economy was so great that any history of labor in America should begin with slave labor. Du Bois revealed a deep antagonism to capitalism and considered socialism, with its roots in ancient African communal societies, preferable.

Keywords:   The Veil, Pan-Africanism, Black Reconstruction, Priests and medicine men, The talented tenth, Double consciousness, Egyptian civilization, Franz Boas, “Little Portraits of Africa”, The Niagara Movement

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