Dubois Essay Talented Tenth

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the shimmering swirl of waters where many, many thoughts ago the slave-ship first saw the square tower of Jamestown, have flowed down to our day three streams of thinking: one swollen from the larger world here and overseas, saying, the multiplying of human wants in culture-lands calls for the world-wide coöperation of men in satisfying them.

Hence arises a new human unity, pulling the ends of earth nearer, and all men, black, yellow, and white.

They cannot be laughed away, nor always successfully stormed at, nor easily abolished by act of legislature.

And yet they must not be encouraged by being let alone.

Blacks needed a talented tenth to set a good moral example and to impart Western civilization.

I had to double check that he did not use the French colonial phrase “civilizing mission”!

Why college: Du Bois said it was necessary just to turn out the well-trained preachers and teachers blacks needed.

The numbers: Back then only one black person in 3,000 had a university degree. Even worse, only a third of black children of school age were going to school, and many of those only for a few months a year.

of those born in the South worked among blacks in the South.

Their education mainly benefited blacks, not whites. Woodson in “The Mis-Education of the Negro” (1933) has a much different take, but that is for another post.


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