Transcript of Today’s “Democracy Now!” Discussion With Angela Davis

Amid a worldwide uprising against police brutality and racism, we discuss the historic moment with legendary scholar and activist Angela Davis. She also responds to the destruction and removal of racist monuments in cities across the United States; President Trump’s upcoming rally on Juneteenth in Tulsa, the site of a white mob’s massacre of Black people; and the 2020 election, in which two parties “connected to corporate capitalism” will compete for the presidency and people will have to be persuaded to vote “so the current occupant of the White House is forever ousted.”


AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report, The Quarantine Report. I’m Amy Goodman. As the nationwide uprising against police brutality and racism continues to roil the nation and the world, bringing down Confederate statues and forcing a reckoning in city halls and on the streets, President Trump defended law enforcement Thursday, dismissing growing calls to defund the police. He spoke at a campaign-style event at a church in Dallas, Texas, announcing a new executive order advising police departments to adopt national standards for use of force. Trump did not invite the top three law enforcement officials in Dallas, who are all African American. The move comes after Trump called protesters ”THUGS” and threatened to deploy the U.S. military to end, quote, “riots and lawlessness.” This is Trump speaking Thursday.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: They want to get rid of the police forces. They actually want to get rid of it. And that’s what they do, and that’s where they’d go. And you know that, because at the top position, there’s not going to be much leadership. There’s not much leadership left.

Instead, we have to go the opposite way. We must invest more energy and resources in police training and recruiting and community engagement. We have to respect our police. We have to take care of our police. They’re protecting us. And if they’re allowed to do their job, they’ll do a great job. And you always have a bad apple no matter where you go. You have bad apples. And there are not too many of them. And I can tell you there are not too many of them in the police department. We all know a lot of members of the police.

AMY GOODMAN: Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is also calling for an increase to police funding. In an op-ed in USA Today, he called for police departments to receive an additional $300 million to, quote, “reinvigorate community policing in our country.” On Wednesday night, Biden discussed police funding on The Daily Show.

JOE BIDEN: I don’t believe police should be defunded, but I think the conditions should be placed upon them where departments are having to take significant reforms relating to that. We should set up a national use-of-force standard.

AMY GOODMAN: But many argue reform will not fix the inherently racist system of policing. Since the global protest movement began, Minneapolis has pledged to dismantle its police department, the mayors of Los Angeles and New York City have promised to slash police department budgets, and calls to “defund the police” are being heard in spaces that would have been unthinkable just a few weeks ago.

Well, for more on this historic moment, we are spending the hour with the legendary activist and scholar Angela Davis, professor emerita at the University of California, Santa Cruz. For half a century, Angela Davis has been one of the most influential activists and intellectuals in the United States, an icon of the Black liberation movement. Angela Davis’s work around issues of gender, race, class and prisons has influenced critical thought and social movements across several generations. She’s a leading advocate for prison abolition, a position informed by her own experience as a prisoner and a fugitive on the FBI’s top 10 wanted list more than 40 years ago. Once caught, she faced the death penalty in California. After being acquitted on all charges, she’s spent her life fighting to change the criminal justice system.

Angela Davis, welcome back to Democracy Now! It’s great to have you with us today for the hour.

ANGELA DAVIS: Thank you very much, Amy. It’s wonderful to be here.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, do you think this moment is a tipping point, a turning point? You, who have been involved in activism for almost half a century, do you see this moment as different, perhaps more different than any period of time you have lived through?

ANGELA DAVIS: Absolutely. This is an extraordinary moment. I have never experienced anything like the conditions we are currently experiencing, the conjuncture created by the COVID-19 pandemic and the recognition of the systemic racism that has been rendered visible under these conditions because of the disproportionate deaths in Black and Latinx communities. And this is a moment I don’t know whether I ever expected to experience.

When the protests began, of course, around the murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery and Tony McDade and many others who have lost their lives to racist state violence and vigilante violence — when these protests erupted, I remembered something that I’ve said many times to encourage activists, who often feel that the work that they do is not leading to tangible results. I often ask them to consider the very long trajectory of Black struggles. And what has been most important is the forging of legacies, the new arenas of struggle that can be handed down to younger generations.

But I’ve often said one never knows when conditions may give rise to a conjuncture such as the current one that rapidly shifts popular consciousness and suddenly allows us to move in the direction of radical change. If one does not engage in the ongoing work when such a moment arises, we cannot take advantage of the opportunities to change. And, of course, this moment will pass. The intensity of the current demonstrations cannot be sustained over time, but we will have to be ready to shift gears and address these issues in different arenas, including, of course, the electoral arena.

AMY GOODMAN: Angela Davis, you have long been a leader of the critical resistance movement, the abolition movement. And I’m wondering if you can explain the demand, as you see it, what you feel needs to be done, around defunding the police, and then around prison abolition.

ANGELA DAVIS: Well, the call to defund the police is, I think, an abolitionist demand, but it reflects only one aspect of the process represented by the demand. Defunding the police is not simply about withdrawing funding for law enforcement and doing nothing else. And it appears as if this is the rather superficial understanding that has caused Biden to move in the direction he’s moving in.

It’s about shifting public funds to new services and new institutions — mental health counselors, who can respond to people who are in crisis without arms. It’s about shifting funding to education, to housing, to recreation. All of these things help to create security and safety. It’s about learning that safety, safeguarded by violence, is not really safety.

And I would say that abolition is not primarily a negative strategy. It’s not primarily about dismantling, getting rid of, but it’s about re-envisioning. It’s about building anew. And I would argue that abolition is a feminist strategy. And one sees in these abolitionist demands that are emerging the pivotal influence of feminist theories and practices.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain that further.

ANGELA DAVIS: Well, I want us to see feminism not only as addressing issues of gender, but rather as a methodological approach of understanding the intersectionality of struggles and issues. Abolition feminism counters carceral feminism, which has unfortunately assumed that issues such as violence against women can be effectively addressed by using police force, by using imprisonment as a solution. And of course we know that Joseph Biden, in 1994, who claims that the Violence Against Women Act was such an important moment in his career — the Violence Against Women Act was couched within the 1994 Crime Act, the Clinton Crime Act.

And what we’re calling for is a process of decriminalization, not — recognizing that threats to safety, threats to security, come not primarily from what is defined as crime, but rather from the failure of institutions in our country to address issues of health, issues of violence, education, etc. So, abolition is really about rethinking the kind of future we want, the social future, the economic future, the political future. It’s about revolution, I would argue.

AMY GOODMAN: You write in Freedom Is a Constant Struggle, “Neoliberal ideology drives us to focus on individuals, ourselves, individual victims, individual perpetrators. But how is it possible to solve the massive problem of racist state violence by calling upon individual police officers to bear the burden of that history and to assume that by prosecuting them, by exacting our revenge on them, we would have somehow made progress in eradicating racism?” So, explain what exactly you’re demanding.

ANGELA DAVIS: Well, neoliberal logic assumes that the fundamental unit of society is the individual, and I would say the abstract individual. According to that logic, Black people can combat racism by pulling themselves up by their own individual bootstraps. That logic recognizes — or fails, rather, to recognize that there are institutional barriers that cannot be brought down by individual determination. If a Black person is materially unable to attend the university, the solution is not affirmative action, they argue, but rather the person simply needs to work harder, get good grades and do what is necessary in order to acquire the funds to pay for tuition. Neoliberal logic deters us from thinking about the simpler solution, which is free education.

I’m thinking about the fact that we have been aware of the need for these institutional strategies at least since 1935 — but of course before, but I’m choosing 1935 because that was the year when W.E.B. Du Bois published his germinal Black Reconstruction in America. And the question was not what should individual Black people do, but rather how to reorganize and restructure post-slavery society in order to guarantee the incorporation of those who had been formerly enslaved. The society could not remain the same — or should not have remained the same. Neoliberalism resists change at the individual level. It asks the individual to adapt to conditions of capitalism, to conditions of racism.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you, Angela Davis, about the monuments to racists, colonizers, Confederates, that are continuing to fall across the United States and around the world. In St. Paul, Minnesota, Wednesday, activists with the American Indian Movement tied a rope around a statue of Christopher Columbus and pulled it from its pedestal on the state Capitol grounds. The AIM members then held a ceremony over the fallen monument. In Massachusetts, officials said they’ll remove a Columbus statue from a park in Boston’s North End, after it was beheaded by protesters early Wednesday morning. In Richmond, Virginia, protesters toppled a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis from Monument Avenue Wednesday night. In the nearby city of Portsmouth, protesters used sledgehammers to destroy a monument to Confederate soldiers. One person sustained a serious injury, was hospitalized after a statue fell on his head. In Washington, D.C., House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined other lawmakers demanding the removal of 11 Confederate statues from the National Statuary Hall in the Capitol.

Meanwhile, President Trump said he will “not even consider” renaming U.S. Army bases named after Confederate military officers. There are 10 such bases, all of them in Southern states. Trump tweeted Wednesday, “These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom,” unquote. Trump’s tweet contradicted Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair General Mark Milley, who suggested they’re open to discussion about renaming the bases. And a Republican committee in the Senate just voted to rename these bases, like Benning and Bragg and Hood, that are named for Confederate leaders.

Meanwhile, in your hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, Angela, comedian Jermaine Johnson is pleading not guilty to charges of “inciting a riot” after he urged protesters at May 31st rally to march on a statue of Charles Linn, a former officer in the Confederate Navy.

Did you think you would ever see this? You think about Bree Newsome after the horror at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina, who shimmied up that flagpole on the grounds of the South Carolina Legislature and took down the Confederate flag, and they put it right on back up. What about what we’re seeing today?

ANGELA DAVIS: Well, of course, Bree Newsome was a wonderful pioneer. And I think it’s important to link this trend to the campaign in South Africa: “roads must fall.” And, of course, I think this reflects the extent to which we are being called upon to deeply reflect on the role of historical racisms that have brought us to the point where we are today.

You know, racism should have been immediately confronted in the aftermath of the end of slavery. This is what Dr. Du Bois’s analysis was all about, not so much in terms of, “Well, what we were going to do about these poor people who have been enslaved so many generations?” but, rather, “How can we reorganize our society in order to guarantee the incorporation of previously enslaved people?”

Now attention is being turned towards the symbols of slavery, the symbols of colonialism. And, of course, any campaigns against racism in this country have to address, in the very first place, the conditions of Indigenous people. I think it’s important that we’re seeing these demonstrations, but I think at the same time we have to recognize that we cannot simply get rid of the history. We have to recognize the devastatingly negative role that that history has played in charting the trajectory of the United States of America. And so, I think that these assaults on statues represent an attempt to begin to think through what we have to do to bring down institutions and re-envision them, reorganize them, create new institutions that can attend to the needs of all people.

AMY GOODMAN: And what do you think should be done with statues, for example, to, oh, slaveholding Founding Fathers, like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson?

ANGELA DAVIS: Well, you know, museums can play an important educational role. And I don’t think we should get rid of all of the vestiges of the past, but we need to figure out context within which people can understand the nature of U.S. history and the role that racism and capitalism and heteropatriarchy have played in forging that history.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about racism and capitalism? You often write and speak about how they are intimately connected. And talk about a world that you envision.

ANGELA DAVIS: Yeah, racism is integrally linked to capitalism. And I think it’s a mistake to assume that we can combat racism by leaving capitalism in place. As Cedric Robinson pointed out in his book Black Marxism, capitalism is racial capitalism. And, of course, to just say for a moment, that Marx pointed out that what he called primitive accumulation, capital doesn’t just appear from nowhere. The original capital was provided by the labor of slaves. The Industrial Revolution, which pivoted around the production of capital, was enabled by slave labor in the U.S. So, I am convinced that the ultimate eradication of racism is going to require us to move toward a more socialist organization of our economies, of our other institutions. I think we have a long way to go before we can begin to talk about an economic system that is not based on exploitation and on the super-exploitation of Black people, Latinx people and other racialized populations.

But I do think that we now have the conceptual means to engage in discussions, popular discussions, about capitalism. Occupy gave us new language. The notion of the prison-industrial complex requires us to understand the globalization of capitalism. Anti-capitalist consciousness helps us to understand the predicament of immigrants, who are barred from the U.S. by the wall that has been created by the current occupant. These conditions have been created by global capitalism. And I think this is a period during which we need to begin that process of popular education, which will allow people to understand the interconnections of racism, heteropatriarchy, capitalism.

AMY GOODMAN: Angela, do you think we need a truth and reconciliation commission here in this country?

ANGELA DAVIS: Well, that might be one way to begin, but I know we’re going to need a lot more than truth and reconciliation. But certainly we need truth. I’m not sure how soon reconciliation is going to emerge. But I think that the whole notion of truth and reconciliation allows us to think differently about the criminal legal system. It allows us to imagine a form of justice that is not based on revenge, a form of justice that is not retributive. So I think that those ideas can help us begin to imagine new ways of structuring our institutions, such as — well, not structuring the prison, because the whole point is that we have to abolish that institution in order to begin to envision new ways of addressing the conditions that lead to mass incarceration, that lead to such horrendous tragedies as the murder of George Floyd.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to come back to this discussion and also talk about President Trump going to Tulsa on Juneteenth. We’re speaking with Angela Davis, the world-renowned abolitionist, author, activist and professor emerita at the University of California, Santa Cruz, author of many books, including Freedom Is a Constant Struggle. Stay with us.


AMY GOODMAN: “Shanty Tones” by Filastine. This is Democracy Now! The Quarantine Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we spend the hour with the legendary activist, scholar, Angela Davis, professor emerita at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

President Trump has announced he’s holding his first campaign rally since the quarantine, since lockdowns across the country, since the pandemic. He’s holding it in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 19th — a highly symbolic day. It was June 19, 1865, that enslaved Africans in Texas first learned they were free, two years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The day is now celebrated as Juneteenth. California Senator Kamala Harris tweeted in response, “This isn’t just a wink to white supremacists — he’s throwing them a welcome home party,” unquote.

Well, Tulsa recently marked the 99th anniversary of one of the deadliest mass killings of African Americans in U.S. history. In 1921, a white mob killed as many as 300 people, most of them Black, after a Black man was accused of assaulting a white woman. The white mobs destroyed a thriving African American business district known at the time as the Black Wall Street of America.

Well, this all comes as a Tulsa police major is coming under fire after denying systemic racism in the police force there and saying African Americans probably should be shot more. Listen carefully. This is Major Travis Yates in an interview with KFAQ.

MJR. TRAVIS YATES: If a certain group is committing more crimes, more violent crimes, then that number is going to be higher. Who in the world in their right mind would think that our shootings should be right along the U.S. census line? All of the research says we’re shooting African Americans about 24% less than we probably ought to be, based on the crimes being committed.

AMY GOODMAN: “We’re shooting them less than they probably ought to be”? Tulsa’s mayor and police chief have both blasted Yates for the comment, but he remains on the force. And on Friday, President Trump will be there. Angela Davis, your thoughts on the significance of the moment, the place?

ANGELA DAVIS: Well, that’s — well, you know, I can’t even respond to anything he does anymore. It’s just so, so, so, so ridiculous. And it is, however, important to recognize that he represents a sector of the population in this country that wants to return to the past — “Make America great again” — with all of its white supremacy, with all of its misogyny. And I think that at this moment we are recognizing that we cannot be held back by such forces as those represented by the current occupant of the White House. I doubt very seriously whether the people who come out to hear him in Tulsa on this historic day — of course, all over the country, people of African descent will be observing Juneteenth as an emancipatory moment in our history.

But I think that our role is to start to begin to translate some of the energy and passion into transforming institutions. The process has already begun, and it can’t be turned back, at least not by the current occupant of the White House. I’m not suggesting that it’s easy to create lasting change, but at least now we can see that it is possible. When someone like Roger Goodell says “Black lives matter,” even though he did not mention Colin Kaepernick, and even though he may have — he probably did not really mean it, what that means is that the NFL recognizes that it has to begin a new process, that there is a further expansion of popular consciousness.

In New York, of course, you need to ask whether you really want to create new jails in the boroughs in the aftermath of closing Rikers, or whether you need new services. You know, I’ve been thinking about the case of Jussie Smollett, and I’m wondering why — in Chicago, given the conditions surrounding the murder of Laquan McDonald, the police department should be thoroughly investigated. And we need to ask: How is it that the public could so easily be rallied to the police narrative of what happened in the case of Jussie Smollett?

So, there is so much to be done. And I think that the rallies that the current occupant of the White House is holding will fade into — don’t even merit footnotes in history.

AMY GOODMAN: Angela Davis, I wanted to ask you about another event that’s taking place on Juneteenth, on June 19th. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is finally going to issue you the Fred L. Shuttlesworth Award during a virtual event on Juneteenth. And I wanted to ask you about this, because you returned to your hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, last February after the institute had at first rescinded the award due to your support for BDS — Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement — and your support of Palestinians. After outcry, the institute reversed its decision. More than 3,000 people gathered to see you talk at an alternative event to honor you, which was hosted by the Birmingham Committee for Truth and Reconciliation. This is a clip of your comments that day.

ANGELA DAVIS: It became clear to me that this might actually be a teachable moment.


ANGELA DAVIS: … That we might seize this moment to reflect on what it means to live on this planet in the 21st century and our responsibilities not only to people in our immediate community, but to people all over the planet.

AMY GOODMAN: We were there covering this amazing moment, where the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute had rescinded the award to you, the Fred L. Shuttlesworth Award, went through enormous turmoil. The mayor of Birmingham, so many people across the spectrum criticized them for it, but then this process happened, and you are going to be awarded this. Can you talk about the significance of this moment? And what do you plan to say on Juneteenth, the day that President Trump will be in Tulsa?

ANGELA DAVIS: Well, thank you for reminding me that these two events are happening on the same day. And, of course, that was, I think, the last time I actually saw you in person, Amy, in Birmingham. A lot has happened over the last period, including within the context of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. They have completely reorganized. They have reorganized their board. They have been involved in conversations with the community. Of course, as you know, the mayor of Birmingham was threatening to withdraw funding from the institute. There was a generalized uprising in the Black community.

And, you know, while at first it was a total shock to me that they offered this award to me, and then they rescinded it, I’m realizing now that that was an important moment, because it encouraged people to think about the meaning of human rights and why is it that Palestinians could be excluded from the process of working toward human rights. Palestinian activists have long supported Black people’s struggle against racism. When I was in jail, solidarity coming from Palestine was a major source of courage for me. In Ferguson, Palestinians were the first to express international solidarity. And there has been this very important connection between the two struggles for many decades, so that I’m going to be really happy to receive the award, which now represents a rethinking of the rather backward position that the institute assumed, that Palestinians could be excluded from the circle of those working toward a future of justice, equality and human rights.

AMY GOODMAN: Speaking about what’s going on in the West Bank right now and about the whole issue of international solidarity, the global response to the killing of George Floyd. In the occupied West Bank, protesters denounced Floyd’s murder and the recent killing of Iyad el-Hallak, a 32-year-old Palestinian special needs student who was shot to death by Israeli forces in occupied East Jerusalem. He was reportedly chanting “Black lives matter” and “Palestinian lives matter,” when Israeli police gunned him down, claiming he was armed. These links that you’re seeing, not only in Palestine and the United States, but around the world, the kind of global response, the tens of thousands of people who marched in Spain, who marched in England, in Berlin, in Munich, all over the world, as this touches a chord and they make demands in their own countries, not only in solidarity with what’s happening in the United States? And then I want to ask you about the U.S. election that’s coming up in November.

ANGELA DAVIS: Well, yes, Palestinian activists have long supported Black people’s struggle against racism, as I pointed out. And I’m hoping that today’s young activists recognize how important Palestinian solidarity has been to the Black cause, and that they recognize that we have a profound responsibility to support Palestinian struggles, as well.

I think it’s also important for us to look in the direction of Brazil, whose current political leader competes with our current political leader in many dangerous ways, I would say. Brazil — if we think we have a problem with racist police violence in the United States of America, look at Brazil. Marielle Franco was assassinated because she was challenging the militarization of the police and the racist violence unleashed there. I think 4,000 people were killed last year alone by the police in Brazil. So, I’m saying this because —

AMY GOODMAN: And, of course, the president of Brazil, a close ally of President Trump. We only have two minutes, and I want to get to the election. When I interviewed you in 2016, you said you wouldn’t support either main-party candidate at the time. What are your thoughts today for 2020?

ANGELA DAVIS: Well, my position really hasn’t changed. I’m not going to actually support either of the major candidates. But I do think we have to participate in the election. I mean, that isn’t to say that I won’t vote for the Democratic candidate. What I’m saying is that in our electoral system as it exists, neither party represents the future that we need in this country. Both parties remain connected to corporate capitalism. But the election will not so much be about who gets to lead the country to a better future, but rather how we can support ourselves and our own ability to continue to organize and place pressure on those in power. And I don’t think there’s a question about which candidate would allow that process to unfold.

So I think that we’re going to have to translate some of the passion that has characterized these demonstrations into work within the electoral arena, recognizing that the electoral arena is not the best place for the expression of radical politics. But if we want to continue this work, we certainly need a person in office who will be more amenable to our mass pressure. And to me, that is the only thing that someone like a Joe Biden represents. But we have to persuade people to go out and vote to guarantee that the current occupant of the White House is forever ousted.

AMY GOODMAN: Angela Davis, I want to thank you so much for this hour, world-renowned abolitionist, author, activist, professor emerita at the University of California, Santa Cruz, author of many books, including Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement. I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks so much for joining us. Stay safe.



My New “People’s Biography” On Ida B. Wells-Barnett……

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My Root Article On Black Leader/Luminary Hate History……..



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2014 Backed-Up Article: (When) Should Black People Voluntarily Segregate Themselves? W.E.B. Du Bois’ Battle With The NAACP In The Pages Of The Crisis Magazine

The Crisis

I wrote this article for a newsletter that is presently continuing under new leadership.


(When) Should Black People Voluntarily Segregate Themselves? W.E.B. Du Bois’ Battle With The NAACP In The Pages Of The Crisis Magazine

The 80th anniversary of one of the greatest intellectual discussions in the 20th century history of the Black American press came and went last year, with absolutely no fanfare or notice.

The 1934 Crisis magazine debate about voluntary Black self-segregation—the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People couldn’t bear to call it Black nationalism—was almost as powerful in print as it was behind the scenes, in memos between the major players—W.E.B. Du Bois, the founder and editor of The Crisis, NAACP Executive Secretary Walter White and NAACP Chairman Joel Elias Spingarn, the latter a white man.

At the end of the six-month debate, Du Bois, the founder of The Crisis magazine, would resign from the NAACP organ. His often-fiery battles with White would be over. Roy Wilkins, a future NAACP Executive Secretary, would advance within White’s NAACP. And Marcus Garvey, one of the Du Bois’ greatest foes, would openly, and appropriately, gloat.

This article quotes from rarely seen carbons of then-confidential correspondence from the NAACP’s archived papers, located in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress.


The year 1934 started with rumors of Du Bois leaving The Crisis and the NAACP. An open letter to the NAACP Board of Directors demanding answers at the next board meeting was sent to Mary White Ovington, the white woman who was one of the organization’s co-founders, board member Carl Murphy, the publisher of the powerful Afro-American newspaper chain, and even U.S. Senator Arthur Capper (R-Kan.). The letter was the product of a committee formed after Du Bois told some allies that the operation of the NAACP had been taken from him and given to Roy Wilkins and George Streator, two NAACP staffers. [i]

This issue was of great significance because Du Bois had set up a unique arrangement with the founders of the NAACP. Under the unwritten agreement, Du Bois would found, and then be given complete editorial control over, The Crisis. From the first issue in 1910 to the end of 1933, Du Bois was not interfered with in any way. The Crisis was simultaneously the organ of both the NAACP and Du Bois. But when Walter Francis White became the NAACP’s executive secretary in 1931, he and Du Bois began to clash, with each man testing the other’s power and resolve.

The letter emphasized that the NAACP and The Crisis “are the children of Dr. Du Bois’ brain and earlier efforts” and that he should not be voted out of the organization lest “catastrophe” develop. “Dr. Du Bois’s name, due partly to this fact, is indelibly associated in the minds of the colored people all over this broad land with the two organizations. They would soon think of the United States withouts [SIC] its Mississippi River as they would think of the two organizations without Dr. Du Bois” (Letter to NAACP Board Members).

Walter White, in a letter to one of the signatories, the suffragist Martha Gruening, explained the situation: Du Bois was temporarily at Atlanta University, and was still contracted by the NAACP to write editorials, while Wilkins and Streator were doing “the actual detail work” of getting out the magazine (White Letter to Gruening).

Proof positive that Du Bois was indeed writing the editorials came in the January issue, in the “Postscripts” signed editorial section, under the headline “Segregation,” the lead editorial:

The thinking colored people of the United States must stop being stampeded by the word segregation. The opposition to racial segregation is not or should not be any distaste or unwillingness of colored people to work with each other, to cooperate with each other, to live with each other. The opposition to segregation is an opposition to discrimination. The experience in the United States has been that usually when there is racial segregation there is also racial discrimination.

But the two things do not necessarily go together, and there should never be an opposition to segregation pure and simple unless that segregation does involve discrimination. Not only is there no objection to colored people if the surroundings and treatment involve no discrimination, if streets are well lighted, if there is water, sewerage and police protection, and if anybody of any color who wishes can live in that neighborhood. The same way in schools: there is no objection to schools attended by colored pupils and taught by colored teachers. On the contrary, colored pupils can by own contention be as fine human beings as any other sort of children, and we certainly know that there are no teachers better than trained colored teachers. But if the existence of such a school is made reason and cause for giving it worse housing, poorer facilities, poorer equipment and poorer teachers, then we do object, and the objection is not against the color of the pupils’ or teachers’ skins, but against the discrimination.

In the recent endeavor of the United States Government to redistribute capital so that some of the disadvantaged groups may get a chance for development, the American Negro should voluntarily and insistently demand his share. Groups of communities and farms inhabited by colored folk should be voluntarily formed. In no case should there be any discrimination against whites and blacks. But, at the same time, colored people should come forward, should organize and conduct enterprises, and their only insistence should be that the same provisions be made for the success of their enterprise that is being made for the success of any other enterprise. It must be remembered that in the last quarter of a century the advance of the colored people has been mainly in the lines where they themselves, working by and for themselves, have accomplished the greatest advance.

There is no doubt that numbers of white people, perhaps the majority of Americans, stand ready to take the most distinct advantage of voluntary segregation and cooperation among colored people. Just as soon as they get a group of black folk segregated, they use it as a point of attack and discrimination. Our counterattack should be, therefore, against this discrimination; against the refusal of the South to spend the same amount of money on the black child as on the white child for its education; against the inability of black groups to use public capital; against the monopoly of credit by white groups. But never in the world should our fight be against association without ourselves, because by that very token we give up the whole argument that we are worth associating with.

Doubtless, and in the long run, the greatest human development is going to take place under experiences of widest individual contact. Nevertheless, today such individual contact is made difficult and almost impossible by petty prejudice, deliberate and almost criminal propaganda and various survivals from prehistoric heathenism. It is impossible, therefore, to wait for the millennium of free and normal intercourse before we united, to cooperate among ourselves in groups of like-minded people and in groups of people suffering from the same disadvantages and the same hatreds.

It is the class-conscious workingman uniting together who will eventually emancipate labor throughout the world. It is the race-conscious black man cooperating together in his own institutions and movements who will eventually emancipate the colored race, and the great step ahead today is for the American Negro to accomplish his economic emancipation through voluntary determined cooperative effort (W.E.B. Du Bois, January, 1934, 20).

This Crisis editorial represented Du Bois’ growing socialism as well as his reaction to the New Deal’s failure (as of late 1933) to systematically include African-Americans in the national programs assisting the citizens of the nation. The editorial was a significant evolution in Du Bois’ public philosophy; in the pages of The Crisis, from 1910 to 1933, Du Bois raged against racial segregation, but had begun to question the goal of racial integration. [ii]  As Henry Lee Moon explained of Du Bois’ earlier writing:

He recognized compulsory separation of the races as the most effective instrument to keep the Negro subjugated in a state of dependency upon the white population. In brilliant articles and searing editorials he bitterly assailed this substitute for slavery as the mainstay of white supremacy (Moon, 1972, Introduction, 31).

But that would change by the 1930s, Moon wrote: “Despairing of any early leveling of racial barriers, Du Bois began in the early thirties to embrace the doctrine of ‘fighting segregation with segregation’” (33). Du Bois’s idea, as he stated in the January editorial, was to push Blacks to form farming economic cooperatives—to be producers and consumers of what they produce.

With Du Bois’ initial intellectual Molotov cocktail thrown, White went immediately into damage-control mode. Spingarn suggests in a memo to White that he only express opinions as a person, not as an NAACP leader. The chair suggests to Secretary White—a very lightskinned Black man with European features—to tread carefully, since “hundreds of Negroes think you are really a white man whose natural desire is to associate with white men” (Spingarn to White, January 10).

In a telegram, White wrote Du Bois asking him to carry a rebuttal in the February Crisis. Du Bois told him that although next month’s issue is full, “I am going to contribute the discussion of segregation throughout the year and would be very glad to welcome from you or anyone else a contribution to the March CRISIS on the subject of segregation” (Du Bois to White, January 10). Du Bois sent a telegram to White the next day, with a more harsh rebuttal: “I will not allow your statement to be published in the February Crisis. It is untrue and unfair. You may publish your opinion in the March Crisis if you will” (Du Bois to White, January 11). White sent Du Bois a formal letter, explaining that certain conservative New Dealers were using the editorial to stop Blacks from getting services.[iii] In a formal letter to White acknowledging the receipt of White’s manuscript, Du Bois chided him, saying

 you have no more right than I have to speak for the Association, and your statement that the Association has never budged on segregation is false. If and when the Association makes an official pronouncement as to its positon on segregation, a thing which it has never yet done, THE CRISIS will, of course, print it and give it the utmost prominence. But you are not the Board of Directors and you have no business to speak for them (Du Bois to White, January 11).

And that “official position” was just what White and Spingarn were exploring. In a January 12 letter, Spingarn discussed the following with White:

As to your suggestion that the board “define anew its position on segregation” and that “we should in no wise change our attitude,” this creates a more difficult problem than you appear to think. The Board has never “defined” its attitude on this subject; it has merely authorized certain concrete steps. The word has become a sort of shibboleth, and unthinking people may use it indiscriminately; but surely we cannot attack segregation in the abstract without attacking the Negro college, the Negro church, etc. To distinguish merely between voluntary and involuntary segregation is another way in which unintelligent people try to avoid the difficulty, but that raises more problems than it solves. I disagree with the direction in which Dr. Du Bois seems to be heading, but I think he is doing a service in trying to make the real meaning of the problem clearer than it has been and certainly a hot controversy on the subject will help to keep interest in the N.A.A.C.P. more lively than ever. I should be very glad to see whatever you may suggest as a proper action for the Board, but of course no action of the Board at this given time can prevent a member or officer from agitating further in favor of a future change of policy (Spingarn to White, January 12).

Meanwhile, White again clarified his position to Du Bois in a January 15 letter: “….[W]hile it may appear that the Association has not made specific pronouncements of segregation nevertheless position has been one of opposition to segregation.” He also asked Du Bois to tell him what was untrue in the statement so he could make revisions (White to Du Bois, January 15). In a January 17th response to White, Du Bois pointed out that White’s article assumed that it was the same as the NAACP’s first statement on the issue. Du Bois pointed out that the NAACP “advocated and strongly advocated a segregated Negro officer’s camp after we found that we were not allowed to enter the regular officer’s camp during the war.  And in other cases where the opposition has been strong and the need for united segregated effort apparent, we have not hesitated.” The NAACP, then, Du Bois told White, does not want race separation, but has in the past accepted it. He said he would  be very glad “to have you or any other officer of the Association in future numbers of THE CRISIS” to show the NAACP’s record on segregation and express “their own personal opinion” on the issue. “Of course, in my editorial and in your letter, it is manifest that we are not both speaking of the same thing. I am using segregation in the broader sense of separate racial effort caused by outer social repulsions, whether those repulsions are a matter of law or custom or mere desire. You are using the word segregation simply as applying to compulsory separations. Evidently the matter of difference here will require thought and explanation” (Du Bois to White, January 17).

White responded to Spingarn’s January 10th letter. He told Spingarn that if he desired to associate with whites, he would just pass as white and remain that way. As far as segregation was concerned,

If the Association’s attitude is not one opposition to segregation, then, I have misinterpreted it for nearly twenty years. I am frankly not interested in the Association unless that is its policy, not only because of the ideals involved but because all my experience has convinced me that whatever the Negro may do in his churches, lodges or private affairs he must continue to fight for integration in public matters and against segregation. Were any other course followed by the Association I could not with a clear conscience continue to work in its cause. I do not in any sense put this as an ultimatum but simply as an honest and frank discussion of opinion.

“Cultural nationalism” or “racialism” is in my opinion a vastly different thing from acceptance of segregation without protest from the United States government or the states. Right now we have to accept Jim Crow schools in the South but I do believe that they are an evil and eventually must go. You and I may never live to see it but I am convinced that we must continue to oppose them not only for our own sakes but for the sakes of white people and colored people of future generations (White to Spingarn, January 15).


Du Bois used up the entire two-page “Postscript” section in the February Crisis defending and explaining his philosophy of editing The Crisis, and explaining the NAACP’s complex relationship with racial segregation.

In the first item “A Free Forum,” Du Bois, writing in the second person, explained to his readers how he sought to allow a variety of opinions in The Crisis, including “radically antagonistic” ones. Most important of all, he continued, he

has sought not to make the N.A.A.C.P. responsible for his individual ideas.

To some this has seemed an anomaly. They have thought that the National Organ of an organization should always express officially what that organization thinks. But a moment of reflection will show that this is impossible. The thought of an organization is always in flux and is never definitely recorded until after long consideration. Meantime, a living periodical reflects opinions and not decisions. And it is for this reason that the editorials of THE CRISIS have always appeared as signed editorial opinions of the Editor and not as the recorded decisions of the N.A.A.C.P. This has given vividness and flexibility to the magazine and at the same time has allowed differences of opinion to be thoroughly threshed out (Du Bois, The Crisis, February, 52).

In the second item, “The N.A.A.C.P. And Race Segregation,” Du Bois reminds his readers—and the NAACP!—that it had “no general stand and adopted no general philosophy” on the segregation issue.  The NAACP’s original mission included civil and human rights, and uplift, he recalled, using documents of the group’s founding.  Segregation, argued Du Bois, “comes in only by implication.” The NAACP was clearly against “special rules which discriminated against the color of employees or patrons,” but not necessarily the rights of African-Americans to have, say, their own towns.  The NAACP took stands on equality of education, the editor wrote, but not on whether Blacks should have their own schools. The organization, then, would attack “specific instances” without “a general rule.” The complex reality was this:

No matter what we may wish or say, the vast majority of the Negroes in the United States are born in colored homes, educated in separate colored schools, attend separate colored churches, marry colored mates, and find their amusement in colored Y.M.C.A.’s and Y.W.C.A.’s. Even in their economic life, they are gradually being forced out of the place in industry which they occupied in the white world and are being compelled to seek their living among themselves. Here is segregation with a vengeance, and its problems must be met and its course guided. It would be idiotic simply to sit on the side lines and yell: “No segregation” in an increasingly segregated world.

On the other hand, the danger of easily and eagerly yielding to suggested racial segregation without reason or pressure stares us ever in the face (Du Bois, The Crisis, February, 52-53).

At the end of the item and the section, Du Bois promised to continue to explore the issue during 1934. Much to the chagrin of Spingarn, White and the NAACP board, he kept his word.


On March 12, White sent a memorandum to the NAACP Board of Directors clarifying the relationship between The Crisis and the Association. The clarification was in response to charges within and without the Association that the NAACP was imposing itself on the magazine.  The memo emphasized the independence that the magazine—and its editor—had, free of the interference of the NAACP and its board. White portrayed the NAACP and a compliant friend of Du Bois, ignoring complaints branches may have had about his charging fees to speak to them and the magazine’s content. “The motives of the Association and its attitude towards the Crisis have been persistently misinterpreted,” it said, with “resentment” from Du Bois as its reward for helping the magazine with its financial difficulties (“N.A.A.C.P Dictatorship”).

Meanwhile, The Crisis had a “symposium” on segregation in its March issue. (Du Bois continued to emphasize his segregation arguments in the “Postscript;” three of the four items—“Subsistence Homestead Colonies,” “Segregation And Self-Respect” and “History of Segregation Philosophy” [iv] –were about Black segregation.) The symposium’s contributors were: Spingarn; White; Leslie Pickney Hill, president of the Cheney Training School for Teachers; David H. Pierce of Cleveland Heights, Ohio; Clarke Foreman, U.S. Department of the Interior; Clarence E. Pickett, Division of Subsistence Homesteads of the Department of the Interior; S.H. Archer, president of Morehouse College and Dr. Will Alexander of the Commission on Inter-Racial Co-operation. In his article, Spingarn pointed out that the NAACP “never accepted the distinction between discrimination and segregation which Dr. Du Bois makes in his January editorial. That distinction was created, not by us, but by the Southern lawyers who wished to show that it was legal and constitutional to Jim Crow the Negro.” Segregation—an “evil,” with voluntary segregation begin a “necessary” one, Spingarn conceded—automatically meant discrimination in the eyes of the NAACP. The future of the Association, he postulated, would depend on how the NAACP would view that evil, pragmatically or uncompromisingly (Spingarn symposium, March, 79).  Pierce wrote that Du Bois was not struggling, but retreating, and there had been too much compromise already. “The Negro has been altogether too respectful in the face of a social order which stacks the cards against him” (Pierce symposium, March, 79). White, in his piece, pointed out that segregation automatically means “inferior accommodations and a distinctly inferior position in the national and communal life” and “means spiritual atrophy for the group segregated.” Blacks must oppose segregation from without because if they don’t, it will permanently legalize second-class citizenship and resources. “Like cancer, segregation grows and must be, in my opinion, resisted whenever it shows its head….The Negro must, without yielding, continue the grim struggle for integration and against discrimination” (White symposium, March, 80;81).  Pinckney Hill echoed Du Bois’ argument: that segregation of the races was a fact, and that Blacks should take that disadvantage and turn it into an advantage; segregated unity will prepare Blacks for a unity with others. “In place of the doctrine of inferiority and superiority, we may exemplify and teach a fundamental equality” (Pinckney Hill symposium, March, 82). Foreman talked about a solution not being Du Bois’ idea of agricultural economic cooperatives, but Black towns incorporating themselves, which would allow for both the relief of the New Deal’s Public Work Administration grants and a form of African-American economic power (Foreman symposium, March, 82). Pickett, part of the Interior Department’s division that gave small plots of land to families to farm to live, enjoyed Du Bois’s idea for a separate “Homesteads colony for Negroes.” In what seems like a letter to Du Bois instead of an article, Pickett says of the idea: “It now seems likely that we will establish one, and perhaps others, on this basis. Since, however, the fund is experimental, I am hoping that we can also develop some without the element of segregation involved” (Pickett, March, 82). Archer and Alexander congratulated Du Bois for his Black farm cooperative idea.


Du Bois continued to dedicate the vast majority of his “Postscript” signed editorial section to self-segregation. Five of the six items in the April issue were about segregation versus integration. In the lead item, he took issue with others bringing up his past statements. “I am talking about conditions in 1934 and not in 1910. I do not care what I said in 1910 or 1810 or in B.C. 700.” He went after his opponents—Walter White, the prominent scholar Kelly Miller and the journalist George Schuyler, all African-Americans—with great gusto. Miller and Schuyler’s views “are historically based on the amiable assumption that there is little or no segregation in the North, and that agitation and a firm stand is making this disappear; that obvious desert and accomplishment by Negroes can break down prejudice,” an idea Du Bois called “a fable.” As for his arch-foe White, Du Bois provided his most potent public venom since his fights with Marcus Garvey a decade earlier:

In the first place, Walter White is white. He has more white companions and friends than colored. He goes where he will in New York City and naturally meets no Color Line, for the simple and sufficient reason that he isn’t “colored;” he feels his new freedom in bitter contrast to what he was born to in Georgia. This is perfectly natural and he does what anyone else of his complexion would do.

In response to Spingarn’s idea that the NAACP should “change its attitude toward segregation. The point that he does not realize is that segregation has changed its attitude toward the N.A.A.C.P. The higher the Negro climbs or tries to climb, the more pitiless and unyielding the color ban.”  Du Bois again called for Blacks to organize “our economic and social power, no matter how much segregation it involves” (Du Bois, April, 115).

Meanwhile, the NAACP Board passed a resolution condemning enforced segregation, the first time it had done that.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is opposed both to the principle and the practice of enforced segregation of human beings on the basis of race and color.

Enforced segregation by its very significance carries with it the implication of a superior and inferior group and invariably results in the imposition of a lower status on the group deemed inferior. Thus both principle and practice necessitate unyielding opposition to any and every form of segregation (as printed by Du Bois, May, 1934, 149).

Spingarn wrote White about the board’s action. The NAACP chairman said if he had to impose the logic of the board, he would do so immediately; therefore, he wrote that until the next meeting of the Board, all communication and collaboration between the NAACP and any Black school or college be immediately terminated (Spingarn to White, April 25).

Meanwhile, the anti-Du Bois sentiment was building within the Association. At the April Board meeting, Du Bois’ firing was brought up as a discussion item. Branches were writing into the national office, declaring their support or condemnation of Du Bois and passing their own resolutions—as did the Bloomington, Indiana branch, the Montgomery, West Virginia branch, and the Illinois State Conference, three which condemned him. [v]


The May issue of The Crisis was not subtitled “A Record of the Darker Races,” its cover subtitle since its premiere issue in 1910, but “Edited by W.E.B. Du Bois.” [vi] There were two “Postscript” items on segregation: the lead item, “Segregation,” in which Du Bois said, “I fight Segregation with Segregation, and I do not consider this compromise, I consider this common sense.” (Du Bois, May, 147) Item No. Six (of seven) of “Postscript” was headlined, “The Board Of Directors On Segregation.” After printing the board’s anti-enforced-segregation resolution, Du Bois, bringing up in public the argument Spingarn warned White of in private, asked if this meant that the Black church, Black colleges, the Black press, Black businesses and even Negro spirituals were all illegitimate in the board’s eyes? Does it believe in Black institutions? “And if it does believe in these things is the Board of Directors of the N.A.A.C.P. afraid to say so?” (149) With that italicized question, Du Bois had openly criticized the NAACP board in the NAACP’s organ.

Meanwhile, the Association had had enough internal wrangling on the issue. On May 14, the Board passed the following resolution:

On the motion of Dr. Wright, duly seconded, it was VOTED, That The Crisis is the organ of the Association and no salaried officer of the Association shall criticize the policy, work, or officers of the Association in the pages of The Crisis; that any such criticism be brought directly to the Board of Directors and its publication approved or disapproved (as quoted in Du Bois Memorandum, June 1).


In the June Crisis issue, Du Bois carried a harsh criticism of him and his segregation editorials. The article was written by Francis J. Grimke, a founder of the NAACP and a pastor of a major Washington, D.C. church. Grimke contended that if Du Bois believes Blacks should accept segregation, “then his leadership among us is at an end; we can follow no such leader” (Grimke, 1934, 173). The minister then emphasized, as White did in his symposium article, that Blacks must resist the malicious nature of segregation because, in theory and practice, it is synonymous with inferiority. In an attached post-script to Grimke’s article, Du Bois said he published Grimke’s article “with great pleasure.” He then argued that Grimke’s very own church—the 15th Street Presbyterian Church, with its congregation being what Du Bois called “a Who’s Who of Colored Washington and a roll of honor of the Negro in America”—is a successful segregated institution. Such successful Black establishments, Du Bois contended, are where “we are going to get into our hands a weapon which in the long run is bound to kill and discredit segregation if human reason lasts… In fine, we can only regret that Dr. Grimke sees in the 15the Street Presbyterian Church only the insult that caused its founding, and has no word for the magnificence of the opportunity which he has had in leading and developing it” (Du Bois, Untitled Grimke Postscript, The Crisis, June, 174).

All seven items in his “Post-Script” section defended his segregation posture. He would not back down, not one inch. To hell with White and the NAACP board.

So when Du Bois saw the success of the May vote of the NAACP board, he promptly resigned.

I regret to say that I am unable to comply with this vote. I do not for a moment question the right of the Board to take this action or its duty to do so whenever differences of opinion among its officers become so wide as to threaten the organization. Naturally, I seriously question the wisdom or right of any distinction between the opinions of salaried and unsalaried officials.

On the other hand, in thirty-five years of public service, my contribution to the settlement of the Negro problems has been mainly candid criticism based on a careful effort to know the facts. I have not always been right, but I have been sincere, and I am unwilling at this late day to be limited in the expression of my honest opinions in the way in which the Board proposes. In fact, THE CRISIS never was and never was intended to be an organ of the Association in the sense of simply reflecting its official opinion. I could point to a dozen actions of the Board confirming this. My ideal for THE CRISIS has always been that anyone’s opinion, no matter how antagonistic to mine, or to that of the Association, could to a reasonable extent, find there free and uncensored expression. I will not edit THE CRISIS unless that policy can be continued (Du Bois Memorandum, June 1).

There was a June 10 board resolution asking Du Bois to reconsider his action, saying that common ground should be attempted. White wrote a memo to Spingarn about this, upset that the board was trying to reverse its decision. “I am thoroughly nauseated at the lack of moral courage on the part of some members of the present Board” (White, June 12).

But it was over. Du Bois would now extend his stay at Atlanta University, and said he would “allow my nominal connection with THE CRISIS to extend to July 1” (Du Bois, June 26). By this time, White had already recommended in a memorandum to Board of Directors that The Crisis was given to Streator and Wilkins to run as managing editors (White to Board, June 19). [vii] On July 9, the Board accepted Du Bois’ resignation, and eventually Wilkins became The Crisis’ editor. [viii]

Reaction from NAACP leaders was swift and nationwide. Letters poured into the Association, pro and con. Board member Carl Murphy of The Baltimore Afro-American wrote White, telling the board not to worry about the situation. He let White know he supported the board.

Du Bois’ “new” position on Black economic segregation ringed familiar to the followers of the deported Marcus Garvey. Du Bois the integrationist and Garvey the nationalist battled in print over the future of Pan-Africanism during the 1920s. Du Bois famously called Garvey “a lunatic or a traitor” for his controversial Black nationalistic/Pan Africanist visions.  (Du Bois, The Crisis, May 1924, quoted in Vincent, 105). Garvey scholar Tony Martin quotes Garvey’s response to the controversy: “It is no wonder Du Bois has resigned from the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People. He can go no farther. Can he continue abusing the white man when the American Negro is at the white man’s Soup Kitchen?” (Martin, 310) [ix]  The irony of W.E.B. Du Bois, who battled hard to delegitimize Garvey among Black Americans in the 1920s, taking a public (and uncredited) Garveyite posture in the 1930s was not lost on Pan-Africanists and Black nationalists, then and now.

David Levering Lewis, W.E.B. Du Bois’ premier biographer, wrote in the second volume of his masterwork biography of his subject, W. E. B. Du Bois, 1919-1963: The Fight for Equality and the American Century, New York: Henry Holt, 2000, that perhaps Du Bois’ position on segregation was more practical than ideological. A main reason Du Bois took the pro-segregation stand, Lewis claimed, was to get institutional support from his now-permanent headquarters, the relatively conservative Atlanta University, to work on his seminal book, Black Reconstruction in America, 1860-1880. “Du Bois certainly did not see his manufactured controversy as motivated by Jesuitical opportunism, of course. He was simply taking the Negro race to another place, more congenial and better salaried, from which to continue to the battle for civil rights” (Lewis, 348).

With the university and its resources as a base, Du Bois launched himself into finishing what is now a 20th century classic of Marxist history. Black Reconstruction was published in 1935. So White’s victory became Du Bois’ as well. Wilkins, obviously, was a huge winner: he would go on to succeed White in 1955 and become a major leader of the Civil Rights Movement.

The dialogue between the two extremes of self-segregation (nationalism) and integration has been muted in the interdependent, worldwide 21st century because Black America, individually and collectively, constantly vacillates between the two philosophies, depending on its situational interests. Black Americans are both nationalistic (in cultural and political expression and personal lifestyles, whenever and in whatever ways they can) and integrationist (in desiring and acquiring professional and economic resources from White America, the undisputed world leader of an unapologetic white supremacist, capitalistic economy). Blacks have learned to live with both philosophies in an often-unhappy medium, forever warring in their individual bodies, no longer needing a magazine to debate the point.


Du Bois, W.E. B., “Postscript by W.E.B. Du Bois,” “Segregation,” The Crisis, January, 1934.

— “Postscript by W.E.B. Du Bois,” “A Free Forum,” The Crisis, February, 1934.

— “Postscript by W.E.B. Du Bois,” “The N.A.A.C.P. And Race Segregation,” The Crisis, February 1934.

— “Postscript by W.E.B. Du Bois,” “Segregation In The North,” The Crisis, April, 1934.

— “Postscript by W.E.B. Du Bois,” “Segregation,” The Crisis, May, 1934.

— “Postscript by W.E.B. Du Bois,” “The Board of Directors on Segregation,” The Crisis, May, 1934.

— “Postscript by W.E.B. Du Bois,” “The Board of Directors On Segregation,” The Crisis, May, 1934.

— “Postscript by W.E.B. Du Bois,” Untitled Post-Script to Grimke “Segregation” article, The Crisis, June, 1934.

— to NAACP Board of Directors, June 1, 1934. Memorandum.

— to NAACP Board of Directors, June 26, 1934. Memorandum.

— to Walter White, January 10, 1934. Telegram.

— to Walter White, January 11, 1934. Letter.

— to Walter White, January 17, 1934. Letter.

— to Walter White, Postal Telegraph cable, January 11, 1934.

Foreman, C. “Segregation—A Symposium” article, The Crisis, March, 1934, 82.

Grimke, F.J. “Segregation,” The Crisis, May, 1934.

Letter to NAACP Board Members, January 5, 1934.

Lewis, D.L. (2000). W.E.B. Du Bois, 1919-1963: The fight for equality and the American century. New York: Henry Holt.

Martin, T. (1986). Race first: the ideological and organizational struggles of Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association. Dover, Massachusetts: The Majority Press.  Originally published by Greenwood Press in 1976.


[i] In a January 16, 1934 response letter to Harry E. Davis, who was asking clarification about  “a movement under way to oust you from the N.A.A.C.P. and presumably from the editorship of The Crisis,” Du Bois responded: “The outline of the facts is that when the N.A.A.C.P.  and The Crisis got in financial difficulties last year, I offered to ease the burden by teaching a part of the year at Atlanta University at half salary, and then again for this year I offered to reduce my salary further so that we could hire a business manager. I think we have got a good one in George Streator. But somehow while this legislation was being put together by the Board, I found to my surprise that they had put ‘sole and complete control’ of The Crisis in the hands of the Business Manager and Wilkins. I talked the matter over with frankly with the Spingarns, who seemed to have engineered the move, and refused to accept the arrangement and offered my resignation. They demurred and persuaded me to outline an acceptable vote by the Board. I did so and the Board passed it, so that I am still carrying on. Nevertheless, it has left a bitter taste, both in their mouths and mine. It all goes back to the fact that I have believed for two or three years that Walter White is not the proper person to head the Association. I have told the Board frankly this in his presence.” As quoted in Aptheker, H. (ed). The Correspondence of W.E.B. Du Bois. Amherst, Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Press, 1973, 474.

[ii] Du Bois forecast his 1934 segregation editorials somewhat in an essay, “On Being Ashamed of Oneself: An Essay on Race Pride,” in the September, 1933 Crisis: “What are we really aiming at? The building of a new nation or the integration of a new group into an old nation? The latter has long been our ideal. Must it be changed? Should it be changed? If we seek new group loyalty, new pride of race, new racial integrity—how, where, and by what method shall these things be attained? A new plan must be built up. It cannot be the mere rodomontade and fatuous propaganda on which Garveyism was based. It has got to be far-sighted planning. It will involve increased segregation and perhaps migration. It will be pounced upon and aided and encouraged by every ‘nigger-hater’ in the land” (199). The essay ends: “We can refuse deliberately to lie about our history, while at the same time taking just pride in Nefertari, Askia, Moshesh, Toussaint and Frederick Douglass, and testing and encouraging belief in our own ability by organized economic and social action [my emphasis]. There is no other way; let us not be deceived. American Negroes will be beaten into submission and degradation if they merely wait unorganized to find some place voluntarily given them in the new reconstruction of the economic world. They must themselves force their race into the new economic set-up and bring with them the millions of West Indians and Africans by peaceful organization for normative action or else drift into greater poverty, greater crime, greater helplessness until there is no resort but the last red alternative of revolt, revenge and war (200).”

[iii] White also sent Du Bois a January 11, 1934 Western Union telegram explaining this.

[iv] Much of what Du Bois discusses in this large item—the establishment of free Black institutions in America in the 18th and 19th centuries—would be expanded in The shaping of Black America, New York: Penguin Books, 1993 reprint of 1991 revised ed., Lerone Bennett Jr’s classic Black history text detailing what he calls the “founding of Black America.”

[v] Nettie J. Asberry, Acting Secretary of the Takoma, Washington NAACP branch, in a May 8, 1934 letter, stated the issue thusly: “Our official organ must support the views of the N.A.A.C.P. or else we cease to publish it. We cannot have an independent editor. He must voice the sentiments of the organization or else resign and run a segregation magazine of his own. We are becoming a laughing stock.”

[vi] This subtitle would stay on The Crisis cover through July, the last issue Du Bois would edit.  The August issue carried no subtitle.

[vii]  Streator resigned from his Crisis post shortly after because of internal politics. He charged that his opposition to the way Du Bois was being treated was considered an act of disloyalty to White. In a July 11 memo from White to Spingarn, White said of the issue: “Mr. Wilkins and I had a long talk with Mr. Streator yesterday. I told him very frankly that I did not approve of many of his activities and of his attitude since he had been here. I told him what I said about him at the Board meeting on Monday (learning from him, however, that all of this had already been reported to him by the Board. I told him that despite these conditions I was willing to work with him provided he played the game squarely, fairly and honestly.” Wilkins was subsequently named the editor of The Crisis.

[viii] Du Bois’s June 26th resignation and the July 9th board resolution were published in the August Crisis, under the headline “Du Bois Resigns: The full text of his letter and the resolution of the N.A.A.C.P. board accepting his resignation,” 245-246.

[ix] Martin continues: “Du Bois, meanwhile, while steadfastly refraining from giving Garvey credit for his new position, sought to make his peace with the ghost of Booker T. Washington, claiming now that he had not opposed Washington on segregation grounds” (310).