The Civil Rights Movement was established in the 1950s with the goal of promoting equal rights for the African Americans living in the United States. The movement advocated against segregation and promoted adherence to non-discriminatory patterns in the public life of black Americans. Du Bois’ work was influential in the advancement of the Civil Right Movement. He noted that the way to end the inequality in the country was to offer equal opportunities for the African Americans to advance their status economically, socially, and academically. Du Bois advocated for desegregation in schools whereby the black students would access quality basic and higher education, similar to the White students. However, the Civil Rights Movement faced challenges in its quest. For example, different political administrations slowed down the progress towards equality in the country.
In his book, The Soul of the Black Folk, Du Bois highlights the difficulties experienced in training the black man and calls for a progressive education system in the Southern rural areas (pg.190). He notes that allowing the Black students to continue with their education to the highest level would eliminate illiteracy the African American society and elevate its economic status. The Civil Rights Movement picked up on his work by advocating for desegregation in schools, which it termed “unconstitutional.” The movement filed court cases, such as Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka, which was a major success for their agenda of ending racism in schools, against the education system. The notion that Black and White’s students were “separate-but-equal” was challenged since the services in the respective schools were not equal. The issue of segregation in public schools was abolished with time thanks to the efforts that the Civil Rights Movement made.
The second way in which Du Bois work influenced the Civil Rights Movement was through proposed alterations to the political power regime in the 1950s and 1960s. While amendments had been made to the constitution, they had not been implemented at the local level. The activists championed the implementation process and ensured that the African American people enjoyed equal rights. The leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, such as Martin Luther King, used non-violent approaches to equality whereas others, such as that led by Malcolm X, used violence to air their grievances. The assassination of both Malcolm X and Martin Luther Kind only fueled the determination of the black people to gain equality. Both strategies yielded the desired results in that racism and segregation were abolished, and African Americans were recognized as equal citizens of the United States, not only constitutionally but also publicly. The African Americans were able to voice their concerns and yield political power through their votes.
Finally, the Civil Rights Movement was influenced by Du Bois in the social aspect. The segregation of Blacks in buses, schools, workplaces, and public places such as metropolitan cities meant that their social standing was undermined. The movement pushed for appreciation of African Americans’ culture and social way of life without being viewed as outsiders (Neiman, 1990, pg. 198). The motivation of those who took part in the movement went beyond the quest for civil rights to the personal desire to achieve freedom and social representation. Du Bois emphasized that African Americans should be free to interact in the society without limits on the people or regions. Therefore, the progress attained by the Civil Rights Movement was greatly attributed to the works of Du Bois whose approach to equality was based on education, political control, and social influence in the African American society.
Du Bois, W.E.B. “Of the training of Black Men.” The Souls of Black Folk, 2nd ed., Chicago, 1903, p. 109.
Neiman, Donald. “The Elusive Quest for Equality.” Promises to Keep. Oxford University Press, 1990, pp. 190-225.