Du Bois was born February 23, 1868 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. In 1888, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Fisk University. He went on to Harvard University where he earned another Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, in 1890, a Master of Arts degree in 1891, and a Ph. D. in 1895, the first African American to earn a doctorate from the university.
Du Bois authored 22 books, including “The Philadelphia Negro” (1899), “Souls of Black Folks” (1903), and “Black Folk, Then and Now” (1939) and helped establish four academic journals. Du Bois was the most prominent intellectual leader and political activist on behalf of African Americans in the first half of the 20th century. In 1909, he helped found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and for 25 years served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Crisis Magazine. In 1963, Du Bois and his wife became citizens of Ghana, where he died.
After his death, the Ghanaian government honored him with a state funeral and the W. E. B. Du Bois Memorial Centre is located in Accra. The site of the house where Du Bois grew up in Great Barrington was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976 and in 1992 the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in his honor. Several structures at universities around the country are named in his honor. The many books about Du Bois include “W. E. B. Du Bois: Negro Leader in a Time of Crisis” (1959) and “W. E. B. Du Bois, American Prophet” (2007).