The timing is perfect: It's Black History month, America has its first African-American president, and the NAACP is celebrating its 100th anniversary. Could there be a better moment for a new edition of W.E.B Du Bois's 1924 book "The Gifts of Black People"?
Du Bois, who was born just after the US Civil War, had an amazing career as a civil rights activist, public intellectual, Pan-Africanist, professor of sociology, historian, author ("The Souls of Black Folk," among many other books and articles), and editor. He was also one of the founders of the NAACP.
According to his biographer, David Levering Lewis, Du Bois "attempted virtually every possible solution to the problem of twentieth-century racism."
He remained actively committed to his cause up through his 90s. In the last year of his life he left the US for Ghana where he became a naturalized citizen. He died there at the age of 95, the day before Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.
"The Gift of Black Folk" explores the contributions of black Americans from colonial settlements through WWI and the early 1920s.
Many of Du Bois's numerous writings are today out of print.
Square One Publishers is offering its paperbook edition of the book, which includes a new introduction, for $14.95. Discovering the book and deciding to publish it, publisher Randy Shur told Publishers Weekly, was "almost like finding a hidden treasure.... And the timing couldn’t have been better”