W. E. B. Du Bois, author of Black Reconstruction in America, was a public intellectual, sociologist, and activist on behalf of the African American community. He profoundly shaped black political culture in the United States through his founding role in the NAACP, as well as internationally through the Pan-African movement. Du Bois's sociological and historical research on African-American communities and culture broke ground in many areas, including the history of the post-Civil War Reconstruction period. Du Bois was also a prolific author of novels, autobiographical accounts, innumerable editorials and journalistic pieces, and several works of history.
Black Reconstruction in America tells and interprets the story of the twenty years of Reconstruction from the point of view of newly liberated African Americans. Though lambasted by critics at the time of its publication in 1935, Black Reconstruction has only grown in historical and literary importance. In the 1960s it joined the canon of the most influential revisionist historical works. Its greatest achievement is weaving a credible, lyrical historical narrative of the hostile and politically fraught years of 1860-1880 with a powerful critical analysis of the harmful effects of democracy, including Jim Crow laws and other injustices. With a series introduction by editor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and an introduction by David Levering Lewis, this edition is essential for anyone interested in African American history.
From February 11, 2022, Our Composite Nation: Frederick Douglass' America shines a light on the late 1860s—at a moment of great hope for the promise of equality under the law. The famed orator and once-enslaved abolitionist Frederick Douglass took his “Our Composite Nation” speech on the road to argue for a plural American democracy. The mission of this new nation, he declared, was to provide the world “a composite, perfect illustration of the unity of the human family.” For what was the U.S., he said, but “the most conspicuous example of composite nationality in the world?” This special installation features artifacts, images, and a theatrical design that bring Douglass’ compelling speech to life and explores his vision of freedom, citizenship, and equal rights that remains urgently relevant today, as a hopeful plea for America to live up to its founding ideals.